Monday, June 21, 2010

The Milking Curve part 1

I would love to have pictures of what I'm writing about, but my hands are quite busy as I milk, so I hope your imagination is handy.

Early every morning, I get up, and a few minutes later Jason gets up. We put on dirty clothes and I make sure my hands are clean. I get a tub of warm water with a squirt of soap in it and the milk bucket. Jason grabs two carrots and as of today, the essential oil stuff to discourage flies. We put on shoes and wander down the driveway. We hope and wish that Violet will have Clover in the barn.

When we get to the field, we quickly scan for the cows, and if we don't see them, we make a mad dash through the gate, while trying to appear very calm and collected, and we lock Violet and Clover in the barn. That would be a good time for a happy dance.

What usually happens is we see Violet contentedly grazing with Clover acting up her calf-ness to the fullest. It's really adorable as she scampers and hightails her way around the pasture or rubs her head determinedly against anything (I guess new horns itch). We watch her for a minute, though not exactly in admiration. We are quietly and calmly making a plan for getting this rambunctious thing into the barn so her mother will stand placidly to be milked. I'll tell you something, Violet sure knows how to be un-placid.

This is the point in the morning when I'm glad there's no video camera. Jason pulls a carrot from his pocket and Violet pretty much follows him like a trained dog, or cow. Clover walks sweetly beside her mother right until her third or fourth rib is into the barn and then she makes a mad dash to scamper around the field again. Violet doesn't seem to mind for about ten seconds and then she turns around and walks halfway out of the barn. She gives a solicitous moo toward her offspring and Clover seems again like she's headed for the barn, but just as she reaches it, she cuts right and turns and careers around the pasture again.

Maybe we should laugh at this point, but at barely 6:00 am, it is not actually all that funny to be standing beside an anxious bovine mother.

Violet scampers after her child at some point. We scamper and wave sticks to try turn the wild thing back toward the barn. We stand still and see if she'll listen to her mother. We urge her mother back toward the barn hoping Clover will follow. And eventually, she does. We know there has to be a better way, but we don't know it yet.

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