If you recall, last week (Well, I think it was last week.) Steve and I had placed a bet in the milking parlor regarding the quality of our milk.
He switched the teat dip we use on the cow before and after they are milked. Remember, the post dip smells like a Dreamsicle.
It still does and that color of orange that it is, well that’s enough to make a person smile every morning.
Well, it appears to me that I am winning the bet. I haven’t started counting my money jars and loose change at the bottom of my purse.
Even though I am ahead in the contest, I couldn’t be more frustrated.
I am the kind of girl that says, “Well, that’s not working. Let’s move on. Can we switch back to the iodine dips now?”
“No. I want information. We are waiting until the milk tester comes in 10 days to see what is going on,” Steve said. “If there are a bunch of new infections in cows, we will switch.”
That’s what I find so frustrating.
We’ve been through teat-dip experiments before and they all end up the same way.
To me, it’s blatantly obvious the foaming pre-dip and popsicle-like post dip are not working. The filter that keeps all the gobledy-gook out of the bulk tank was full of infection indicators. Those little indicators look like curdled milk.
Through a piece of paper in front of me that contains a bunch of numbers and other information and it’s like my mind freezes up.
I don’t have time to analyze all that info.
We have tested the milking equipment and that has been adjusted accordingly. Apparently, the vacuum, which is needed to collect the milk from the cow and send it through the pipeline, was set a bit low for the speed at which our cows were letting their milk down.
Oh, they have little computers they can hook up to individual units that measure all the intricacies of a milking unit.
If you thought milking was just about putting a unit on the cow and chatting or discussing the low down on politicians, children and supper, think again.
That was the old days; back when Steve and I were young. Now we are old and there is no time for standing around in the milking parlor.
So, here it is mid-experiment, I have to deal with 10 more days of cows getting mastitis.
And that directly affects my personal goal of keeping the quality of our milk well ahead of where it is right now.
You see, it’s not all fun and laughter out here on the farm.
It’s hard working with your spouse, especially when two people have such different personalities.
Every day I find myself trying my hardest not to get into a full-blown “discussion” with my favorite man in the whole wide world.
So this morning, he went his way.
And I am going mine.
Steve, Russell, our herdsman Zachery, my father and several others are working on cleaning out the compost barn. This involves two full days of moving compost out of the barn and spreading it on the field.
Our compost is amazing. Not only does it have a ton of food for this next year’s crops, it doesn’t smell all that much either.
Oh, living on the farm place allows one to totally appreciate the smell of organic fertilizer.
Those that live around the field where that fertilizer is spread can hardly smell anything.
Believe me, that is a relief to Steve and I. We don’t need to upset our neighbors.
We do our best to keep them all happy.
(I know I promised a story on my construction project here at home – still working on it. Will share soon. Patience is a virtue and is one that i don’t possess!)
Well, I thought I lived on the safe side of the Minnesota River.
I mean, I know that the area of St. George is considered “God’s Country,” but I didn’t think the area around Searles was too far behind the land of amazing corn and soybean harvests.
We have pretty good harvests in our neighborhood too. By the way, a neighborhood in rural terms encompasses everything within a 10-mile radius of a farmer’s homestead.
It’s true, I have friends that live near Sigel ballpark that I consider neighbors. I would like to think Sigel residents feel the same way.
But I digress, which happens a lot to me when I sit down at my computer. Back to the matter at hand.
I feel like I live in a rather unassuming area. There is very little riff-raff that enters my expansive circle. If there were, I would have to create Steven Spielberg’s story “Under the Dome.”
Sure, we have the occasional wayward soul that seems to think it’s OK to dump garbage, animal carcasses and appliances in the neighborhood, but even that ugly activity has decreased as time moves forward.
My two theories concerning the decrease in riff-raff activity is this: 1. They are too old to lift the appliances out of the pickup bed; 2. We have actually caught one of these souls dumping garbage and he ended up getting ticketed for something way worse that littering. I bet word spreads fast in their “neighborhoods” on safe dumping grounds.
So, the other day, when I decided to take my two capable dogs for a run, using my bike, I was a bit dismayed at what happened to me.
I have one rather large Great Dane, who needs to diet and exercise. According to the latest dog medical magazine, Lilly is 20 percent overweight and obese. She passed that milestone over the winter. I tried to hide the story from her, but she is too tall and she managed to see all those pictures of overweight dogs.
All she could do was look at me with those sad-dog eyes.
On the other hand, I just adopted a pitbull-lab cross, and he has problems with too much energy. He subscribes to Dog Fit magazine. Ole needs to always have somewhere expansive to run and play. Usually he chooses to visit the Schlumpberger residence, which is only one mile away from the home fort in my 10-mile circle, to play with their rat terrier.
In an effort to appease both dogs, I hopped on my bike and took off down the road. Not soon enough. Steve came driving up behind me in his pickup and told me I had a flat tire.
No wonder it was taking all my energy to pedal my bike.
I was sweating like a dog! You do know dogs sweat by panting, right?
I hopped off my bike, laid it in the ditch for later retrieval and kept walking with my dogs.
Soon enough, Russell came by in his Jeep. He had our chocolate lab Bob in the backseat. He said, “Bob wanted to go for a walk too.” (She’s old and very slow.)
“Just wait,” I said, “I’m riding with you and running the dogs like city-folk do.”
I stuck my head out the window and offered cheers of support for both Lilly and Ole, while the wind blew through my summer-blonde hair.
Bob sat in the back seat happily panting as the breeze blew through her Hershey-colored dog hair. She was in heaven. This appeared to be her favorite walk EVER!
We ventured to Grandma Tadpole’s house and visited with Steve, Grandma, Russell, myself and three tired dogs.
One the way back home, I hopped into Steve’s pickup, because I wanted to pick up my bike on the drive home.
I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t find my bike. Within that hour, someone had lifted my bike!
I’m OK with that. I figure once the person uses it, they will put it back in the ditch.
If said riff-raff wants to return my bike, believe me, the only question I will ask, is this, “Why did you have to bring it back?”
Saturday night I felt a bit guilty for eating three full-sized graham crackers covered with left-over cheesecake filling before I sauntered upstairs to watch Netflix on my iPad.
I kind of swore that I wouldn’t partake in snacking before go up to relax in bed.
I puffed my pillows and settled into bed with my earphones in my ears.
I just about hit the ceiling when I felt some very strong fingers grab ahold of my foot. I was so enthralled in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, I was a bit freaked out.
Those hands were my husbands and I instantly knew it was going to be bad. He never grabs my feet any other time.
“There are beef cows and black and white Holsteins running around in your yard,” Steve said.
That’s like hearing, “Code blue!” “S.O.S.” or “Mayday!” or “He’s in v-tach!”
There’s no time to ask questions, or get answers for that matter, because Steve gives these long drawn-out answers. And by-god, those cows are ripping up my new grass seeding!
I quickly removed my pajamas and put on my smelly, dirty chores clothes. Grabbed my wool vest and was out the door before Steve even had socks on.
Yep. The cows were obliterating my new grass in front of the house. Oddly enough, the small electric-fence I created to keep the dogs off my lawn had trapped a big beef cow. She was on the inside of the fence and couldn’t figure out how to get on the outside of the fence. Cows can be so dumb.
I jumped on my super-sonic bicycle and started herding cows back toward the “escape tunnel.”
They ruined the fence right by the north-end of the barn.
Steve and I herded the all but one of the wild beasts into the correct pasture. Then we had to figure out how one other rogue cow trapped herself into another pasture area and bring her back to the other group.
Well, herding her worked as well as trying to catch a greased pig in a County Fair contest.
She managed to jump through a fence, and run through knee-high mud and manure and hide herself in the group of cows that are not being milked.
Steve, being the insane cow herder that he is, thought we should try to get her out of that group. I, being the sane cow herder, thought we should wait until morning.
I lost and I was headed into the mud and manure.
I stood in front of a vast mud hole. I pondered how I was going to cross and the only thought that came to my mind was to follow the cows’ tracks.
Well, that worked as slick as trying to catch two greased pigs at the County Fair.
Before I knew it, my rubber boots were making this awful sucking sound as I tried to take steps. My feet were coming out of my boots and my boots were disappearing in the brown goo.
By the time I weaseled my way out of my gooey mess, I had removed my boots and stuck my feet into the cold goo. My hands were also full of it, as I had to balance when I tried to pull my boots out of the mud.
They still stink.
Eventually I removed myself from the abysmal mud and started to walk to the milk house for a proper dousing in the large stainless steel sinks.
My feet were cold, manure and mud had squished between my toes and my hands were just as icky.
After I returned to the house, I thought, “Well, I don’t have to feel bad for snacking before I had gone to bed. I had worked it all off. In one hour I road my bike at super speed, ran around the grain bins like I was on a merry-go-round and used every muscle in my body to unstick myself from the manure-mud mixture.
Yep. I think I burned off the cheesecake filling.
It’s good to live on a farm.
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Sometimes I know when items such as gaskets, my oven and my car are worn out or broken.
Gaskets leak where two pipes meet, my oven never seems to sustain a constant temperature, and my car’s battery begs for an auto-like Redbull energy drink.
Sometimes I actually try to fix things as soon as I notice it has broken.
Sometimes I can secretly hope for several days that it will fix itself.
That never happens.
Such was the case this morning.
I knew the pressure washer was not working properly.
Our pressure washer sprays water so fast and hard, it will peel decals right off a car, skid loader, tractor…skin off my fingers.
If, I am not careful, when I pressure wash the skid loader, it could end up reading “kidloader” and I would get in a lot of trouble with child protective services.
God forbid they think I use farm equipment to move my children around the farm.
I am not even going to discuss the time one of my offspring fell out of the bucket of the skid loader and required several stitches to the back of his head.
I will, however, explain that Father was watching the children while I was in Las Vegas when this particular incident occurred.
Getting back to the pressure washer. On the end of the long hose that I drag through the parlor every morning after milking when it’s time wash the space, is a nozzle.
It doesn’t look at that special, but believe me it is.
It has some sort of mechanism inside that makes the jet of water spin in a circle. It’s hard to explain, but think Spirograph. It makes designs in dirt just as fantabulous.
Well, the thingamajig inside the nozzle hasn’t been working for more than a week.
I don’t like working on the pressure washer. It requires more tools than a person can legally carry without affecting a health-insurance policy.
Hence the wish for it to fix itself.
This morning, it still wasn’t working.
(I was also in a bad mood because the hoses on all our milking equipment are worn out and they haven’t replaced themselves either.)
I did the next best thing.
I batted my eyelashes at Hubby and asked him if he could “help” me fix the nozzle when he was done scraping manure out of the milking parlor and holding area.
I secretly know that asking Hubby to help means he will just take over and make the repair.
An old nozzle was put on the hose by Hubby, to allow me to continue to pressure wash. This nozzle was quite disappointing. It lacked the pressure clean the walls and floors to my satisfaction.
When I finished pseudo-washing the milking parlor, the first nozzle was repaired and ready to be replaced.
In essence, I guess the nozzle did kind of repair itself, via Hubby.
Now if only I could talk to Steve about those gnarly hoses on the milking unit.
Once again the farm is getting blanketed with the soft-white-fluffy-stuff.
I have always thought snow made the world a beautiful place.
Not that I like working in it all that much, but it sure changes the scenery.
That is one of the best aspects of living here on a dairy farm. Every day I get to look out one of my many windows and see all different types of things.
The other day a pheasant was just outside my kitchen window looking for corn to eat. This is highly unusual as we have to Rat Terriers, Eddie and Digger, that think chasing a pheasant is an Olympic sport. Because it was cold, both dogs were curled up on their bed in the milk house. That’s a no-no by the way, it’s against our inspector’s wishes, but hey, it’s really cold outside.
I have also seen evidence of a bunny taking up space in our calving barn. At this time there are four momma cows waiting in there to have their babies. What’s the big deal if a bunny stops in occasionally to fill its belly with a bit of dry hay.
He needs to eat too.
Speaking of eating. Our cows manage fairly well in the cold weather. They do drop off in milk production, but that’s only because they have to use more energy to keep their body temperature in line. Seriously, I can walk into the barn to bring them down to the parlor for morning milking and they look like they are as content as content can be – even if they are covered in frost.
One nice thing about the cold weather – as soon as they cows step outside the barn and realize how cold it is, they run to the milking parlor and I don’t have to struggle to get them into the holding area. They know it will be about 10 degrees warmer in the buildings than it is outside.
Working in these winter conditions toughens a person’s soul. Sure I like to get dressed up and looking like a woman, but working in negative weather conditions makes me feel like I could handle anything. I can even handle looking like a frump in my tan Carhart coveralls.