Stubborn. Just pure stubborn. I suppose it could have rubbed off on her, as I can be fairly stubborn myself. Dennis at Rivertown Market says that it’s just because she is a ‘woman’ – which ended up getting him quite a bit of grief from me. But trust me when I say this – she only thinks ‘stubborn’, because I am the master.
It took almost four days to get Bossy to milk. First, the clanging of the handle against the milk pail startled her. Immediately following that loud clank, the dogs tried to get through the gate. As a protective Mama, she was more worried about her calf than eating. Once we finally got her in the head gate on the stanchion, the dogs decided to make a second try, which just freaked her out. Before we could loosen the head gate, she went down on her knees and just about tore the front of the stanchion apart. Worried she would choke herself or break her neck, we scrambled to get the gate off and out of her way, all in the same motion. It was a tricky dance, but we managed.
We finally decided that Randy would be the one to get started. Each day he went in the barn and while gently rubbing her sides and back, he spoke quietly and soothingly. Finally, she went back into the gate, but he didn’t latch it. With slow and steady hands, he began rubbing her bag and milking out a bit. When she would pull back, he would sit still and wait. Cautiously, she would go back to eating.
Last night he shifted the gate to make it a bit wider so it wouldn’t be so tight. He latched the gate. No problem. She ate contentedly, but there was a flash of something smug in her eyes. Randy eased the stool in place, put the bucket under the udder, and started with the back quarter. And got ‘strawberry’ milk.
He stopped, as he had never seen that before. Without making a big ordeal out of it, he quickly unlatched the head gate and hurried to the house. I took one look and started immediate research. It seems that ‘strawberry’ milk – a pale pink in color, as the name suggests – is caused by capillaries that have broken. This is due to the sudden swelling of the udder because of quickly filling with milk. It’s not harmful, and in actuality they say you can drink the milk – if you can get past the ‘yuck’ factor. It doesn’t hurt the cow or calf, thank goodness. Still, I wanted to double check my information, so I called Ayn, who grew up around dairy cows. I was relieved to know I was right, and poured the milk down the drain; I prefer chocolate milk, thank you very much.
I haven’t given up. Tonight, we will regroup and take two buckets – one for the back quarter, as we need to milk that out for about two weeks – and one for the ‘real’ milk. Not only is this part of my stubborn streak, but it also gives a full hit to my frugal side. I just ordered a whole box of cheese making supplies, and I have no desire to waste one grain of culture, just because my cow won’t milk.
To be a Farm Wife, one of your best assets is stubbornness. Throw in a good helping of determination, two or three handfuls of tenacity, a sprinkling of fearlessness and a solid splat of knowledge, and you just might succeed. You’ll be even more successful if you perfect the evil eye, and can stare down your stubbornness protégé to the point where she’ll just let the milk pour into the buckets without you ever having to go into the barn. I’m working on that. And I have just enough stubbornness, determination and tenacity to be successful.