Saturday, October 24, 2009

The ongoing saga of Lucy

Lucy did so well Friday morning!  I had high hopes that we could milk all four quarters with the machine on Friday night.  I tried.  I failed.  She went pretty nuts.  Is it possible to get bruises on top of bruises?  If so, I am going to have a very colorful left wrist!

I have some idea how Lucy feels.  The first time she didn't know what I was going to do, so it came as a surprise and I had some small advantage when I put the milker on.  But now she knows, she knows in advance that it is going to hurt.

And I know in advance that those flailing hooves are going to get me, and they are going to hurt me.  I start hurting before I even put my hands up to milk her (purely psychological, I know), and I can understand perfectly why she is beginning to hate the sight of me.

It is mutual. I DON'T love Lucy at this moment in time. We will both get over it once the healing is done, once my wrists are no longer tender, once we both forget about all of this.

Today's fiasco is my own fault. I didn't really do my job last night, due to the skittishness on the part of both Lucy and me. This morning Leifschon and her husband Jason both came over to help me. Leifschon knew how crazy Lucy had been the night before and thought having three of us there might be a good idea. It was a very good idea indeed.

The reason that we milk Lucy twice a day is to keep the milk duct open. If it heals shut and scars over, then we will lose that quarter forever. Many farmers do that, but if you have 50 or 150 cows, it is no big deal. We have six cows, which is 24 quarters, and we have 36 shareholders. You do the math - we need every one of them to be in working order! It is not easy on the cow to have the udder dry up, since it will swell before it dries up and possibly become infected.

I realized how serious it was that I had not milked her out last night when I tried to milk her this morning. It took forever for the milk duct to break open. By the time it did, Lucy had made a mess, knocked down a pipe and hit that big bruise once again! She calmed down once the milk started to flow, and between the three of us, I was able to milk out the quarter.

Tonight, the milk duct broke free almost immediately. But I learned my lesson. I didn't try to put on the milking machine, and I made sure that she was milked out completely before letting her back out into the pasture. Tomorrow morning, we will go at it again.

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