Those who have been following this blog know that Lucy had a mishap. One of her teats was stepped on by another cow (I didn't see it, but according to Mat, our vet, it is fairly common and my description of the injury was a pretty sure indication that this was what had happened). The gory details are in a previous post, and I will not repeat them here. So those of faint heart can keep reading.
The vet said in order to save that teat - and that whole quarter - Lucy must be milked out on that quarter at least twice a day. I started milking her two days after the incident. It was a trial. She has always been a bit testy when being milked, quick to kick. I have the bruises on both wrists as evidence that this whole ordeal brought out her kicking skills to the max!
Twice a day, someone had to hold her tail over her back, which makes it harder albeit not impossible for her to kick, while I reached under her and milked her as best I could, being careful not to touch the exposed and very raw skin on the lower portion of the teat. There were good days and bad days. Twice I tried to use the machine, and it only led to more kicking and irritation to the injury. I told Kathy to make sure that I didn't milk her for at least a week, because I know myself, and I knew I would want to try to milk her just as soon as she would let me.
Two nights ago, I said, "Kathy, I'm going to give it a try with the milker."
"No, you're not." she countered. Yup I would have tried, yup she stopped me, and yup it was a good thing she did.
Lucy is obviously feeling much less pain. I can see the value in letting the teat heal with as little touching as possible. I had to touch it to milk it, to get the flow going each morning and night which was necessary to keep the milk duct open so that we wouldn't lose that quarter forever. Sometimes it was really tough, quite a few tugs before milk appeared, which was just more pain for her and more chance of being kicked for me. Someone had to drive over here every morning to hold her tail over her back just long enough for me to get the milk going.
A miracle happened last night. I went out to milk Lucy, timing my entry to the milking parlor so that Kathy would be about done with the others and would be milking out Lucy's three good quarters. As I entered the parlor, Kathy put her finger to her lips and said, "Shhhhhhhhh!" There was a steady stream of milk flowing from the injured teat! Kathy said it didn't start until she put the milker on the other three. Plenty of milk flowed, so much that when I tried to milk her out a bit by hand after Kathy had pulled off the machine, she was done.
This is big news! And good news!! The milk duct stayed open without any manual milking. That quarter emptied out. And she didn't leak until the milker was on the other three quarters. Why is that important? One of the things we feared was that the injury would affect the sphincter valve in that teat and she would leak all the time. That means milk coming out and bacteria going in pretty much continuously, and all of our work would have been for naught.
I didn't have to do anything tonight, no hand milking. We just let it flow, nice, clear, clean milk. Lucy is doing it all by herself. Perhaps this is her way of saying, "You can keep your hands off me, Susan! I am tired of being jerked around!! Now go away."
And I did. :)