A small, diverse permaculture farm in beautiful SE Minnesota - our dream come true life focused on Local Food, Local Art, Local Music.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
In Training for Milking
The vacuum pump arrived for the bucket milker and over the weekend Rog and I got it hooked up in the barn. I don't know if LaFonda has ever been milked by a machine before (the people we got her from acquired her at a livestock auction), so I decided to get her into the routine of coming into the barn morning and night for her ration of grain and accustomed to the noise of the milker. Sunday morning, LaFonda came inside happily, just like the good old days last summer when we were hand-milking, and did not flinch when I turned on the loud vacuum pump.
Sunday evening, when I went out to do the chores LaFonda was already waiting for me at the barn door, peering in. She seems quite eager to get back into the miking routine.
The kind farmer I get hay from gave me an old bucket milker that had been in his attic for 30 years. It was bafffling and challenging to figure out and find all the parts I needed - until I located Marv, a dairy equipment rep. He helped me select a vacuum pump and new pulsator and refurbished the "claw" - the octopus-like contraption that attaches to the cow's udder. This morning he stopped by to show me how it all works, adjust the vacuum level and showed me how to clean it easily. I feel fairly ready now.
LaFonda must feel very ready. Her udder is so large now that she has to walk with her back legs awkwardly stretched apart to straddle it. She seems enormous to me - especially for a cow that was bred with a mini cow so she would have a small calf. Tonight our dairy farmer neighbor stopped by and I wondered if it is be possible she has twins. Mark responded, " I was thinking the same thing." He said he could be wrong, but now my worry level has elevated considerably. Twin calves are much more likely to have problem births, with one of the pair being born in the wrong position -- a medical emergency.
In September 2008, we dived into our dream of creating a small, sustainable farm. Neither of us has previous farming experience, but we have enthusiasm and many ideas for this little 10-acre farmstead.