Saturday, April 24, 2010

The perils of farming

Smarty Pants is the mother of Caramel.  She is a first time mother, and she is getting very hard to handle now that she has been separated from her calf.  We keep the new calves close to the barn.  All of the moms stop to see their kids on their way into the milking parlor.  Usually, this is good news.  It seems to relieve their separation anxiety a bit, and if they stand there and moo, so be it.  There is usually much nose touching, and then things are okay and the moms go into the barn without protest.  Within a week, it's one kiss and they walk on by.

Smarty Pants is obsessed with getting back to her child.  It is heartrending - one of the more unpleasant things about this business.  But that is how it works.  The kids get plenty of milk and plenty of attention, but it is from us, the milkers, not from the moms after those first three days in the nursing pen.

Smarty Pants is a real handful.  I milk alone in the mornings.  Yesterday I just simply could not get her in the barn.  She is very aggressive towards Lucky, for some reason. Maybe because Lucky is so small and so easy to push around.  I left Smarty Pants in the holding pen while I milked the other cows, including Lucky.  Then I put Lucky out into the holding pen and tried to move in Smarty Pants.  She tried to gore Lucky.  I got them separated and put Lucky into the hay mow, anything to get them apart quickly.

Then I began working on Smarty Pants to no avail.  Lucky was making waves in the hay mow, and there was no way to keep her in there if she wanted to walk across the walkway and into the milk room!  I saw her nosing in a bag of kelp.  I grabbed a bucket, thinking I would fill it with kelp and keep her distracted while I got Smarty Pants into the milking parlor.

I leaned over to stick the bucket in the bag of kelp and Smarty Pants decided to go for kelp at the same time.  Her horn caught me under the left eye.  Thank goodness I had my glasses on, since she knocked them off.  I shudder to think where that horn would have hit if I hadn't worn my glasses.

Androo showed up for his work day and helped me get her in.  I milked her and headed out for the doctor while Androo finished the chores.  Gotta love women doctors!  First thing she said is, "Stitches will leave a scar.  Let's glue you together so that it heals neatly."  So I am super glued together. She said I would have a shiner, but it's not too bad this morning, just a little discoloration under the eye.  A little swelling - time for another ice pack before I head out for market.

Farming ranks pretty high on the list of dangerous occupations.  I was reminded of that yesterday morning.

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