Thursday, July 9, 2015

Majestic Milk

Training the Family Milk Cow

Day One - July 4
Majesty delivers Queenie.  That's her 'official' name. She might grow into it.  Or she might be "Our Little Princess" forever.  We moved Queenie into the Milk House (aka 'the old chicken coop').  Majesty abandoned us halfway there and went to tell her mother.

Majesty came up to check on Queenie 3 times, walking over a broken section of fence to come and go as she pleased.  she stayed in the pen with her overnight.

Day Two - July 5
Queenie is extremely well fed, appearing to have doubled in size.  We go shopping for feed and supplies.  Majesty comes and goes as she pleases.

Day Three - July 6
#1 catches Majesty and Queenie in the milk room and locks the door.  We fix the fence and set up electric fence along it.  We let them out of the milk room, and Majesty stays in the pen all day.  She allows a few pets.

Day Four - July 7
#1 manages to squeeze a few squirts from each teat.  Majesty is very full, and so is Queenie.  She calls for Queenie, but Queenie does not want to eat anymore.

Day Five - July 8
Majesty is still very full.  She allows me to slide my hands across her without moving.  Her udder is quite warm.  I get the milk bucket.  She allows me to begin milking one side, until Queenie comes to the other side and begins nursing.  Once the pressure is off, she starts fidgeting and then walks away.

Day Six - July 9
I take my milk buckets and cloth out in the morning.  I feed her.  She doesn't stir when I wash her teats.  I begin milking her left side.  The front teat empties quickly.  I continue with the rear, and reach across to the other side.  It's awkward, so I decide to try moving to her right side.  She is too close to the wall.  I push her over gently, but she doesn't react.  I push her hard, and she moves an inch.  I push her hard again and she pulls her head out of the feed box to look at me.  She repositions herself and I start milking her right side.
Everything is going well, until #1 walks in.  When he opens the door it spooks her.  We then spend 10 minutes waltzing around the milk room, getting the evil eye.  She does not get aggressive at all, never lowering her head or threatening us, just backing away and watching her daughter.  I tell #1 to leave.

Another five minutes and she settles and goes back to eating.  I resume milking and drain the front right side.  I resume cross milking both back teats until she becomes fidgety again.  That's enough for today.
I take the milk bucket in, strain and measure.

1 2/3 Cups of milk with very little effort.  I am very pleased.  I wasn't really expecting to be bringing any milk to the house at this point.

Majesty was raised by her mother, Dorie.  Other than tagging her ear, and the occasional nose pat when she got curious, we have been completely hands off with her.  Last summer I kept asking the boys to catch her and bring her up to the milk pen so I could work on taming, petting, and haltering her while they were gone to camp.  It never happened.

I expected this milking adventure to involve wrangling a halter on her, tying her to a tree, and waiting for her to figure out there was no escape.  Then spending many attempts to milk her getting pushed around and the bucket kicked over.  I am amazed that she is being so agreeable.

We will continue taking things slowly as she learns the routine.

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