Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cows, Peep Shows and Milking

Yesterday I left work to go see the Jersey Cows at an Amish Farm about an hour from here. Once I finally found the place (not mapquest/google maps accessible) i drove up to a sea of beauties. So many Jersey cows relaxing in the shade. I was greeted by the tinies little dog with the loudest wheeze, he sounded like one of the pigs but couldn't be more than 7 pounds. Turns out the wife of this dairy farmer got a ride to Wichita and along the way was informed that she had acquired the dog in return for the trip :( Anyway, I got out to the milking parlor (which is one of the reasons I took a late lunch, so I could be there). He pointed out the 3 options and I watched as they were being handled for milking.

The first in line, an older girl was very calm and was so full she was practically milking herself. He name is Zilla, she is 10 years old and calved on the 4th of July and has a very nicely attached udder. We moved on the lioness, she is only 3 quartered (only 3 teats work) but is a beautiful 4 year old cow, again with a very nicely attached udder. She is a little antsy about being milked in that when she feels she's done, she kicks off the teat cups, lol. The thing is that she has one teat that milks slower and so she usually has to be hoooked up again. Last but not least is Treva, a 5 yr old with all four quarters working, nicely attached udder, though she seems to have an "extra" teat (no it doesn't give milk too). Her back teats are shorter than the front. I was told she is a little frisky and has a little kick to her, though she didn't mind being milked.

Now that I had seen them get milked it was time to really meet the girls. I walked out to meet Zilly, the sweetest cow you ever did meet and if you thought I mistyped zilla I didn't. Zilly is from Zilla's line, which told me that zilla was a keeper. Zilly - not for sale :( - is a beautiful young cow that loves to meet new people. She walked up to me and before I knew it she had sniffed me and began actively licking me. lol.

Anyway, this is not about Zilly, no matter how wonderful she is and how great she would be to own :( But seriously, I had to make a choice on the other two as I couldn't afford them both. As previously mentioned cow buying is not a quick sort of thing. Oh and I should mention that all of these cows are dehorned (I think I will be dehorning my others). Dh finally showed up and was greeted by the friendly miss Emma, a cow who vigorously licked his shirt, lol. Anyway, I called him over to meet the girls and as he wandered around them lioness seemed not to like him too much, while Treva smelled him and licked him. (Guess which on we got, lol).

We talked a bit more and then the wife suggested that we try to get them haltered, I immediately liked her thinking. She had mentioned that the oldest boy tries to halter train the cows, tries is the operative word. Zilla was not going to do it willingly though she did not put up too much of a fight, Treva on the other hand took off running. We decided to wait a little longer to try again. The farm has a very interesting way of loading animals and I will definitely be trying this if I have to load an animal again, walk them up to the gate, have 2 movable gates on either side of the trailer (creating sort of a triangle), 2 people in the spaces inside the triangle and close the gate, which pushes the animal forward gently. Both girls were loaded without incident. Once inside the dairy farmer climbed in and haltered Treva.

It was then I asked about the records and he mentioned something about the date Treva was bred. I stopped. "What? I didn't know she was bred." He looked at his wife and they asked, "did you not want her bred?" I was ecstatic. This was a great bonus, then as he went to get the papers she asked if we wanted them to transfer the registrations. Again, I stopped. "These are registered Jersey's?" Well I tell ya, God is a funny God, we found this awesome deal and didn't even think twice about asking any questions, but he worked it all out.

Zilla, went to some friends as they are to be hand milking and of the two cows, she was identified as the most receptive to that idea. I hear she's done wonderfully with it ;) Treva came home and the others were immediately interested. We locked them into the arena and unloaded her, not such an easy task with a 900 pound animal, but for sweet feed she was definitely considering it. lol. Once in the double Corral we locked her in and she immediately started to eat the grass. The dairy did not have a lot of pasture for the 70+ cows they had. She was in heaven. Lot and the ladies mooed like crazy as they checked her out, it looked like some kind of peep show as they peered through the fence and gate. They were checking her out from all available angles, lol.

At that point dh and I were don for the night and went to bed excited to start the new day and our first try at milking. The alarm went off at 5:00 and we were actually both awake and not hitting the snooze button. We puttered around for a bit getting things ready, after figuring out a few details, like what we would sit on, we were off. Then turned back to get our jackets, it's cold at that hour. The sun was not up, nor was it even thinking of getting up yet.

The cows were in the arena and so once again we shut the gate. The stanchion was moved to the doorway and the doors closed on either side. it was time to get Treva in. While she did not mind us getting the rope on her halter, she was not going to go anywhere with us without some encouragement. It was like watching a 900 pound temper tantrum though I've seen worse tantrums, lol. Not once did she lock up on us and refuse to move. We got her to the door way and then she did not wish to go any further, it was time to get out the incentive - sweet feed. It piqued her interest some but she wasn't hungry. Finally, after several more tries she was in and I shut the head gate. She tamed, immediately.

Just to be on the safe side though I asked dh to tie her leg to the back post of the stanchion, as I didn't want to take any chances of her kicking either of us. We began milking, squirt (pause) (pause) squirt, it was slow going, actually very slow going for a while. Then I went in front of her and offered her the sweet feed again, nothing. I picked it up and she ate it all out of my hands. Now she was interested. :) Long (LONG) story short we were finally able to get her milked out by 8:30. Picks of this beauty will be up a little later when I get home from work and get a nap. :) Oh, we got about 2 gallons of milk, I will investigate the butter possibilities when I get home also.

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