Thursday, October 10, 2013

Milking Two Cows--My Morning Routine

This morning, I hand milked both of our milk cows for the first time.  I still need to work the kinks out of my routine, but this is how it went this morning...

5:00 am: My alarm went off for the first time.  Grabbed Simon and started nursing so he would sleep through my milking and not wake up the whole house.  Except, I also fell back asleep.
5:30 am: Thank goodness for backup alarms!  I made sure Simon had a clean diaper and put him in his playpen.  Thankfully, he fell right back asleep--must say I was a bit envious of that! :)
5:45 am: Have equipment gathered and am heading out into the dark morning to gather Maggie. I succeed in getting her in, but realize that little Samurai (the newest calf) has managed to escape his pen, so I chase him down and put him back in. It went really smoothly, thankfully!
5:50 am: Go back into the milking parlor and see that Maggie has eaten all of her grain and is NOT happy with the fact that I haven't milked yet.  Lock her in the stanchion and clean her teats.  I give three squirts from each teat to get out the milk most likely to contain bacteria, and begin milking.  She paces back and forth in the stanchion.  Singing helps, so I start belting out some of the hymns that the kids and I have memorized. My hands still aren't used to this milking thing after having the summer off, but I keep at it. 
6:00 am: Give Maggie a pat and spray her teats with anti-mastitis spray.  Let her out of the stanchion and run ahead of her to open the gate.  Head into the house and take care of her milk--straining it through cheesecloth into a gallon jar. Rinse out the pail and refill my bleach water and go back to the barn.
6:10 am: Succeed in getting Epie into the milking parlor.  She's not too happy to be there, but she does a much better job than Maggie  at standing still once in place. I resume singing and she milks out quickly, and I get the gates opened.  Yea! Both cows are milked and back where they belong.  Now just Epie's milk to take care of.  Since there is still some colostrum, it goes to the calf bottles. I throw some hay out for the milk cows and our meat cows, and check water levels.
6:25 am: Clean the barn and realize that I need to start at least half an hour earlier in the morning so I'm back in the house at 6 not 6:30.  That's a bummer...Get both bottles set out for Jayme to take out at 6:30, and start getting myself cleaned up.

That's about it.  I'm hoping that once my hands remember the milking process they stop hurting so much and the actual milking goes more quickly. There are definitely still some kinks to work out, but eventually my goal is to be back in the house and preferably showered by 6.  We shall see...

Here is Maggie, tethered out enjoying the last of the autumn grass. Once the sun comes up, the kids and I tie out both milk cows to help save on hay expenses since our field has been depleted of green grass for the season.

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