Saturday, 15 March 2014

Reflections of hand milking

So I have been hand milking everyday, twice a day for nine days now. My arms have gone through the pain, tension and numbness of extreme exercise inflicked upon them for forty minutes at a time. 
They are now strong and more efficient, with milkings only taking twenty minutes.
I have cursed my hubby for not learning how to hand milk and I have felt self pity for carrying all the milking responsibility on my shoulders, I mean forearms!

Hand milking a cow is not as romantic as one might think. Yes, amber is very quiet and willing. She has never once gone to the toilet while inside the milk shed but hand milking is work, sweaty work! And I have to do it twice a day, everyday regardless of how much it doesn't suit my mood or schedule on that particular day.

I get up earlier than everyone else and head outside to check on the animals. The hens are waiting for me at the doorstep and follow me to the shed. I turn on the lights and get the feed ready. 

A scope of grain is thrown out in the yard for the hens to pick at, one bucket of nuts for the pony and a large amount of nuts for the cow. I have a bucket of milk and barley already soaked overnight for the pigs. 

The pigs are shouting for breakfast from their sty as soon as they hear me in the shed. I get their bucket and pour it into their trough. They are very excited!

Next into the cow yard, where max the pony and amber the jersey are. They have been waiting impatiently. Amber mooing very loudly. I gave the pony his nuts in the yard while amber makes her way into the milk house.
She stands into her stall where her breakfast is waiting. I tie her in and take a seat down at her udder.
I usually take off my jumper or jacket. Milking is hard work! 
I clean off her udder and wash and dry it. I put a bucket under her and milk hard for twenty minutes. Once Amber's nuts are eaten, she starts on her hay. She looks back at me frequently while chewing. Once I have milked her out, I put her back into the yard or if the fields are dry she might go out for a few hours. I leave the bucket of warm milk outside the shed where our dogs are waiting. They drink 2-3 litres at each milking. The rest I use to soak barley for the pigs next meal.
We are not using much of the milk at the moment. Because she has a rear teat that has two openings, it makes hand milking very messy as it sprays everywhere. She needs to be machine milked to produce milk of a good hygiene  standard for our home.
I occasionally milk a few litres from her front teats into a bottle for the house.

We have a milking machine! I have being begging and pleading with hubby to get it functional as soon as possible. There is a problem with either the motor or vacuum pump.
Hubby is gone away today to a neighbouring dairy farm to figure out how to fix the machine and get spare parts. I, hopefully, will be a very pleased wife this evening when the milk machine is fully functioning. 

Fingers crossed!

And then I can consider making some Greek yogurt or some soft cheeses. Or even taking a bath in milk :-) I always wanted to do that !


  1. Gosh I don't envy you that routine EVERY day. Some days it can be quite nice to potter around and get all the animals feeding and happy, other days I used to find it a terrible chore banging the buckets and generally feeling totally sorry for myself. At the moment I feel I am on a break with only the chickens, dogs and cats pressing for my time first thing.

    Even so that first cup of coffee when everyone else is settled always feels like 'about bloody time' :-)

    I'm glad she is giving you good milk though. Tell your Hubby to pull his finger out and get the milking machine fixed or else you'll be handing over the morning milking session to him, that should make him get a move on.

  2. Thanks Sue, after me insisting that he learn to hand milk, Hubby spent all day today working in the machine and still not enough vacuum pressure.
    He has a friend coming in the morning, so fingers crossed :-)

    I think small holding and livestock always sound so attractive but the day to day of it is not so much fun at times.

  3. Must feel like a 'real farm' with Amber! I am jealous :) I can see its a huge commitment, another milker would make the difference if you ever want a lie in again!
    'm looking forward to getting this years pigs soon. I also liked your pig sty, will have to build one for having pigs over winter.

    Enjoying your blog.

  4. Ps. I have heard milking machines take a good bit of cleaning after each milking.
    I'd be interested to hear if it ends up saving you any time, but it'll save your hands for sure.

  5. A cow really makes the 'farm'. She brings a lot of routine, milk and manure to the place. Her milking times are the highlight of everyone else's day. The dogs wait impatiently for it, the pigs and the hens.
    Yeah we really like our pig sty but maybe wish we design it to connect to a summer small 'paddock'.
    The reason I really want the milk machine is so that I only have to milk in the mornings. It was our agreement before getting another cow, that I won't be the only milker. Hubby is suppose to do evening chores. It would also be easier to get help from neighbours if we want to go away for a few days.
    Also, because she has kinda 5 teats she needs to be machine milked to empty that quarter fully. The rear teat sprays everywhere making hand milking a messy and unclean job. The milk is only fit for the animals at the moment which is really annoying me as I want to make Greek yogurt and cheeses. Although the pigs have put on a great deal of weight in the last two weeks. I agree that it will not be quicker to machine milk but it will be easier and in a few years my older boys should be able to help.


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