Shades of Ireland

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jersey Project: Day 2

I really did not know what to expect to find at the barn this morning. These girls had skipped two milkings and really SHOULD have had full udders. Since they are so thin, I didn't think that they would have much milk and I was right. Just looking over the fence at them, I could see very small udders.I began trying to talk myself out of milking them at all. Just dry them off, let them get well, put on some weight and grow. At the same time, I knew that dairy research shows that if you do this on a first or early lactation, the cow will have a tendency to dry off early and not produce to her potential for the rest of her life.

I called my friend, Pam, who is going to take one of these girls for her home milker. She is of the same opinion that I am...... I DON"T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!! I call my hubby and he says they are too young and thin-----dry them off and just give them TLC. Seth walks over and says, " They don't have any milk. We still need to get them in and put them in the stantions." So that is the plan.

First, these girls are in a pen not connected to the barn or our homemade milking stantions. They are not halter broke. They are gentle but not tame enough to pet or handle. In their minds, people are things to move AWAY from, not come to or follow.

Second, we find a couple of rope halters. Then we push a path through our stored junk from the door to the milking stantions. We rigg it up as best we can not to kill us or the cows getting in.

Then we block the girls into the stall and wade in there to get halters on them. They are quite sure that we plan to murder them by strangling them with these ropes....... Seth gets them wedged in a corner and I manage to get the halters over their heads and snugged up. They are caught!! Now what?????

The goats are watching all this with great interest and if we open that door to get the cows in, the entire herd will rush in and then it will be pandemonium in the barn. Seth stays with the cows and I bait the goats into another holding pen with a feed bribe.

All clear and ready to launch toward the barn door----- not the big garage doors--- a PEOPLE sized door. Up a couple of steps..... Open a fence panel and off we go...... or not. They refused to budge. Basically we, pushed, pulled, dragged and drove these two across the goat lot and up into the barn. Like some kind of reality TV junky, I brought my camera and got a few pictures for your enjoyment.

This girl, Number 63 ( I haven't decided just who is Nichole and who is Noelle, yet), is the calmest but I can already tell that she is not the brightest bulb in the box......

"  Meanwhile, Seth was ahead of me with Number 64. She is a bit flightier and put up more of a struggle. This is one of the many reasons that I love having teenage boys around.......

We got them in and they discovered that this was not the slaughter house but there was actual FEED  in those troughs.

Giddy with the success we had already had-- or oxygen depletion had affected my brain--- I decided to give hand milking a try. Just to see what we had under there.

Given my cow milking phobia, you all would be very proud of me for easing my way in there. As you can see, it didn't take long for the cats to figure out what was going on. This is Number 63 who has a damaged udder. In the crowded conditions of her former home, one of the other cows stepped on one of her teats and basically ruined it. Sore is an understatement. I can still see the big cut and that "quarter" is hard and probably ruined and dead . She will freely let me milk out the two right quarters but the thrid quarter next to the injury is also sore. Bless her sweet heart, she doesn't like it but allowed me to milk down that sore quarter, too.

 After about 5 squirts, the rest of the barn cats mobbed us, too. She didn't seem to mind them.

Number 64 was not as calm but she also allowed me to milk all four quarters. I just gave them relief. As soon as I was finished, they stopped eating and acted as if they really HAD to leave the barn. That was their routine at the dairy and it will take them a while to adjust to a slower pace.

I know that they look bad but..... they are alert, eating, and not on death's door. We managed to get them back out the door and into the catch pen. Seth de-wormed them before we got them off of the trailer. We are putting in a big round bale of grass hay this morning. They will have full access to water and minerals. Their grain rations will be slowly increased. I am limit feeding them alfalfa.

They SHOULD have kicked our heads off this morning. As they get healthier, I am sure that they will get spunkier.

Pam is as big of a sucker for an underdog ( or cow..) as I am. She has already put in for #63 with her udder problems. Pam hand milks and a 2 or 3 teated Jersey will work out just fine at her farm.

What touches me the most is that even though they are frightened, stressed and even in some pain, they are still incredibly sweet and gentle natured.

I just can't wait until they are cleaned up, fattened up and happy!

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