Sunday, August 29, 2010

How's that cow?

Things are pretty quiet these days, and I think we're beginning to be in the "enjoy" part of our cow relationship. Of course, we're also in the "reality striking" phase as well.

In the mornings, it is quite dark and we have to rouse dear Violet to get her chained up to milk. I guess this isn't perfect, but it's actually easier than what we were doing before. It does mean we have to get all the poo out of the barn after she's chained and before I kneel to milk. I have only been reduced to tears one morning as I pondered my poop covered knees in the faint blue glow of the LED tent light we're using in the barn right now. It was the very next morning that we began taking a flashlight with us to help find ALL the poo, even if it had straw thrown over it.

Jason guesses that milking takes me about 15 minutes now. I try not to think about time, but that's contrary to my nature, so I'm glad he's kind of keeping track. One perk is that I have strong forearms now. If you milk a cow 15 minutes every morning, your arms DO change. I will still stop in amazement when I go to scratch a mosquito bite on my arm; I have a flash of, "Is that my arm?"

Clover (known as Chappy to the over 30 set in our house) is getting friendlier. This is nice because that makes us feel more confident that we can handle an emergency should one arise. On the other hand, it will make killing her more difficult. And we are beefing her in the summer or fall of 2012.

Violet understands our routine now and is much easier to handle as she finds us less inscrutable. She walks fairly placidly to her pasture in the morning and fairly trots to the barn in the evening. The pasture is already better, and she grazes happily most of the morning and the early evening. She eats all her hay in the night when she has only limited access to pasture she does not really like. It turns out that cows will mostly not eat the grass in the lanes, the pathways that we use to move them from place to another. And her lane is all that's available at night because she wants to be able to be close to her calf who is locked in a pen in the barn.

We figured out that if we do not let the calf nurse before we walk them to their new pasture in the mornings, Chappy follows along very closely. This makes the morning operation MUCH smoother. Also, Chappy is quite clear on "What we do in the evening", so she makes for the barn and her pen in the evening with an ease we never would have predicted. It's nice to have our routine supporting us.

Right now, Violet is grazing just outside the back door again, and I like glancing up to see her there. She looks hopefully at us if we walk out. Jason has been bringing soft melons and overgrown squashes from work, and Violet thinks we're especially nice if we show up with one for her. I think we're all beginning to enjoy one another.


  1. tabitha's arms are very sore right now. i imagine another week or two until it stops.

  2. I mst have been pretty weak to start with. Though my arms do not ache anymore, my hands still give me fits.