Milking a Cow in Winter

Milking a Cow in Winter

Like much of the United States, we got some snow.  Since it’s been a nice, mild winter here so far, the little snowstorm has been happily received at our home.

snow 8

The kids are going outside to play like it’s spring time.

snow 1The hound dog actually woke up and bounded around in the snow drifts like a puppy.  I think he over did it a bit because he hasn’t moved today.  When we forced him to get up and go outside to go potty this morning he was limping.  Poor Duke.

A few weeks of sleeping by the fire and I’m sure he’ll be good as new.

We are milking again.  Which is another story entirely.

Milking the cow makes my life better.  There’s nothing like a brisk walk in sub-zero temperatures first thing in the morning.  There’s no one else I want to be with, or anywhere else I want to be.  The cow barn takes the place of my garden in the dead of winter.  It’s my happy place.  It’s like the garden, except it’s freezing and smells like a cow.

When we (my oldest daughter and I) got up to the cow barn this morning to milk the cow everything was covered in …… not snow…… not ice………. everything was covered with cute little ice crystals.

I took some pictures.

The sun was rising.

snow 5

Everything was covered in delicate, sparkly, ice crystals.  Have you seen the movie, Santa Clause 3?  The one with Jack Frost?  Whenever he froze something with his frosty powers it looked just like this.

The fence was frosty.

snow 4

The fence posts were frosty.

snow 3

The gates were frosty.

The chains were frosty.

Even the cow was frosty.  She had a beard this morning.

When you milk a cow by hand, the proper positioning includes leaning your head into the cow’s flank (side).  This allows the milker (person doing the milking) to feel the cow’s movements before she actually moves.

It does work.  When I lean into the cow I can feel her tense up if she is about to take a step, shift her weight, or kick.  Whenever you feel the movement coming, you grab the bucket.  Quick.  This ensures you won’t end up with spilled milk, a kicked bucket, or a cow standing in the middle of your milk.

Which may have happened this morning.   Because…….

snow 6

I did not want to lean into this.  That is ice, snow and whatever she was sleeping in last night.  I didn’t want it on my face.

I should have been leaning into the cow’s flank, but I was not, so I did not feel the kick coming.  She has a cut on one teat from our beloved, hungry calf.  It is just a tiny nick, but she does not want me to touch it.

Unfortunately, it is pretty much impossible for me to milk the cow without touching her teat, so I touched it.  She kicked to show her disapproval.

After saying something like, “shoot” but maybe not as polite, I lifted the now empty, milk bucket off the floor.  Faith was re-positioning her kicking foot about the time I was righting the bucket, which resulted in crash number 2.  If you’ve never been in a small space with a cow’s hoof slamming into a stainless steel bucket, you will have a hard time understanding the power of the sound.  It’s loud.

All ears in the barn are ringing.   Including the cow’s.  Which startled her as much as the rest of us. The sweet cow is trying to figure out what is where her foot is supposed to be and attempting to knock the bucket (currently in her way) into the next county.  I am trying to get the bucket it out from under the dancing cow.

At this point, the cow is standing in the milk bucket.  Which means I can’t milk.

It’s pretty much impossible to get a bucket out from under a cow when her foot is in it.  I really, really wanted to help the girl, but with her 800 pound self standing in my milk bucket I was helpless.

She promptly decided that since kicking, stomping and dancing didn’t get rid of the horrid new shoe, she would shake it off.  We now had a cow shaking her foot inside a stainless steel bucket, and it sounded like church bells. Except louder.  And not as pretty.  In the milk barn.

Who wants a cow?

To get old fashioned stories, farm tips and homesteading fun delivered straight to you be sure to subscribe via email (here),



No Responses

Write a response

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: