How To Milk A Cow

      I grew up on a dairy farm – today I would call it a gift, at the time, I  felt like an indentured servant. We  moved to a farm when I was 10.  When I was 12 we started milking.   Twice a day, 7 days a week 365 days a year.   Ours was a small dairy herd, 18-20 cows.    My brother Steve  fed the silage, scraped the yard,  scattering the fresh bedding in the cattle shed,  my job was to do the actual milking.   We had a grade b dairy farm.   I can still remember heading outside to do the chores after opening presents one Christmas morning.  I’m thinking to myself…”This isn’t fair, why don’t Kim and Karen have to come outside in this sub zero weather to do chores too?” (they were my two younger sisters) 

       Go here if you are interested in the specifics of how to milk a cow.

      My brother and I are 15 months apart.  Occassionally  we would get in a fight while we were milking, neither one of us had enough sense to take the milking machine off the poor cow while we duked it out.   What a circus.

     I remember one morning when we flipped the lights on in the barn.  We had left the cows in the stanchions over night because it was so cold.  There, running around on top of the stanchions were 3 raccoons.  “Quick, get the gun!”   I dropped one – he wasn’t dead so I took  my dad’s Steven’s 22 rifle and clubbed him- snapped the maple stock right in half. Boy did I catch it later.

        I never had any desire to go into farming after I got on my own.  You have to be willing to go in debt 100’s of thousands of dollars in our area if you’re just starting out.     There is a saying, ” You can take the boy off the farm, but you can’t take the farming out of the boy.”   -It’s true.

      A few years ago, I wrote mom and dad  a letter-  thanked them for the opportunity to grow up on a farm.   I met a fellow blogger recently who is considering moving their young family to a farm- as a young person who got to do exactly that, I would tell them, if there is any way possible you can pull it off, you’ll never regret it. 

     Your thoughts?   

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8 Responses to How To Milk A Cow

  1. lawyerchik1 says:

    Hey, DM – It’s funny: my mom’s parents both grew up on farms and left for more citified places, but when my grandfather could, he bought a house with enough room for a small truck farm in the backyard. He grew all of the family’s vegetables from the time he got the garden in until they sold the house & downsized to an apartment. I always thought that growing things was magic – especially since I seem to have a black thumb, myself – but I think I would learn if I had the opportunity.

    Only questions I have are, what do you do if you want to go someplace out of state, like a vacation or something? And, could cows be trained to not need milking until, maybe, 9:00-ish? 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this slice of rurality with us city-folk! 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    My husband’s family is from a long line of farmers and his uncles still have a dairy farm and beef cattle farm. When I first met my husband I had never seen a cow up close in person. I thought it would be neat to go visit one. He didn’t understand the desire or my excitement but he played along.

    I got to give a baby cow a bottle. That was fun, although I was very upset that the baby cow didn’t get to stay with its mama. Husband kept saying, “it’s just a cow.” I also didn’t understand the electric fence, but Husband assured me that it was better to get a slight shock from a fence than to be in a collision with a car. I didn’t realize how “shocking” things could be until I saw his puppy check out the fence with it’s tail. Woo-hee that dog could run!

    At the end of the day, we walked back to his house. The puppy, better by now, came running up to us, excited and jumping — all over me. Complete with his cow-patty covered feet. That about ended my fascination with cows.

  3. lawyerchik1 says:

    DM – just saw this on Yahoo! today – seemed in keeping with the theme of your post:


  4. Hope says:

    I praise God for farmers and growers of all kinds. I could NEVER live on a farm. I can smell a dog fart from a mile away and feel the need to hurl my cookies. When I say I’m a city girl…I mean it. I don’t even plant a garden in my backyard because I hate dirt. There are bugs in dirt … too many to mention. But, I love milk, I love steak, I love chicken and not so much veggies but I can make room for potatoes and tomatoes and lots of berries. I can’t for a minute begin to comprehend why anyone would willingly live the life of a farmer. The work is hard, it doesn’t pay as it should and everything depends on the elements and the market which farmers have no control over. They have to deal with competition from imports coming from other countries. Honestly, praise God for all of you. Anyone I’ve met who works the land or even lives in the country cannot understand how I could live in the cement city. And it seems a contradiction that I love for a river bank to sooth my soul when it’s weary. The wonderful things is that God made us so alike and so different. If it wasn’t for farmers, I’d starve. If I didn’t live in the city and buy their products, they’d starve. What a community!

  5. anitz says:

    Thanks for the post!

    Hey, two questions: Do I know the young family?

    and: How did the bread turn out?

  6. DM says:

    Anitz- you asked did I know the young family…and how did the bread turn out..first question…only slightly :-)…I was referring to you 🙂 (didn’t know if this was something confidential or not ?)

    Second question…the bread..well, we made 4 loaves the other day….3 of them collapsed after we turned the heat up..the 4th was so-so…things did go better though by adding a little sugar w/ the yeast at the beginning….I came in right while my wife was trying to divide the dough…had a complete mess on her hands…if looks could kill I”d be dead right now..anyway, I helped her get it worked into a better consistency…watched it raise again, and everything was looking pretty good but when we took them out of the oven..they had as I said collapsed :-(..oh well…anyway, keep me posted on your plans of farming…I just read an article about young families from the Netherlands relocating to Iowa as dairy farmers…they have to make some major committments but then the state of Iowa helps them get settled.

  7. Renee says:

    In the 25 years I milked cows I had many “fascinated city folk” that wanted to stop by with their kids and questions. The fascination always seemed to end when they got a taste of how demanding and dirty of a job it can be. You have to really love and enjoy working the animals to endure the “not so fun ” part, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    My suggestion to the young family…….. if you’ve never farmed but think it’s something you’d like to do, try working for a farmer first. The experience could be helpful. There is no “text book” method, not every thing works the same for every one.

    I’m still struggling with the idea that you SHOT A GUN IN BARN FULL OF COWS??? you’ve got to be kidding!

  8. anitz says:

    I thought I knew the family!

    And, well, the bread will turn out… one more hint: it should be dry enough for children to play with without grosing the mother out… like playdoe. If it is too moist, then keep “dusting” it with flour. No need to go wash your hands, you should be dusting and kneeding until the dough is saturated enough that it begins to “clean you hands” for you (the sticky stuff is removed from your fingers and incorperated in the dough).

    If all else fails, grab a few 4 year olds, they LOVE to help in the kitchen!!!

    @ Renee Yes, we are simi-city folk. We live in a very small town (10K) on the edge and out behind us are three farms within walking distance (I am writing from Germany… loads of people, not so much land… smaller farms than way out your way!). We have spent a few summer holidays on a farm and we go visit the ones out here often… we say: see that cow over there? We will take that one home (in the form of beef)…

    So, no we only have a vague idea of what farming is really about. But we are not real city slickers. Plus we are not interested in (how do you say this?) bulk farming. We are more interested in sustaining ourselves and perhaps a few families (like my parents, sister and her family) with milk, meat etc. We are not vegetarians, yet we do eat very little meat and we are aware that you need less land to feed a family if there is no cattle on it… wheat does not need as much “room”. So this summer we hope to have our “garden” (large for German standards, avg. for suburb house in the States) filled with wheat to see how much corn you get per square meter… we experiment like that.

    Presently we feed my in-laws (2), sometimes my sister-in-law (3) and our brood of 7 from the produce in our garden (we also have a second garden for this)… so fresh produce would definitly be within our realizable dreams.

    And I have wanted chickens for a long time. As well as rabbits (for meat). But we would have to keep them here at the house and we have foxes around here and my mother in law is concerned that this could get nasty. If we move to a farm, then we will leave my inlaws here 😉 !

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