Testing for pathogens

mastitis samplingWe are still working on getting our somatic cell count lower.

Somatic cells are indicators of an infection in the udder.

 Each time a cow contracts mastitis, I take a sample of her milk and put it in the incubator.

If I did it correctly, I will get a result in 12 – 24 hours.

Then I know which medication to use for treatment.

I will post my results later.

Just call me Scientist Kerry!

It’s a Debbie-Downer kind of day

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This is me immediately after milking the cows this morning. It’s not always fun and games being a dairy farmer. Today I am frustrated. Continue reading to see what’s up in my world.

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.

Icky!

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!)

With age comes issues

Steve and I were a sight for sore eyes Tuesday morning while we milked together.

As we find ourselves getting older, we find that we are much slower at many things than we used to be when we were youngsters in our 20s.

Being tied down to the couch because of illness isn’t just a one day ordeal anymore. Heck, when we were young we still worked like mad when we were ill.

Hacking because of a cough, didn’t slow down the well-oiled machines we were.

A sprained ankle? Forget about!

Cast on the foot? Cover that baby with a bread bag.

We had to carry milking units between cows, throw feed to the cows using a silage fork-I miss seeing my biceps bulge – and unloaded 13 wagons of small-square bales one at a time.

Five loads with almost 200 bales on it were wimp-work for us.

Being out of our prime became very apparent this particular Tuesday morning.

Steve was feeling under the weather. His cold was throwing him under the John Deere tractor in our shed.

He finished milking with me and even helped finish all the chores after milking. He felt “good enough” to help with cleaning the manure out of the holding area. We put fresh bedding in the second barn.

His body allowed him to attend a meeting in the morning with the Farm Business Management lady.

He sounded like crap when he talked. His voice was all gargley. I told him he should not go to the teachers house; she probably didn’t want him spreading sick germs anywhere near her young children.

They had their meeting in the garage!

I can’t say too much.

I wasn’t in all that great of shape Tuesday a.m. either.

While milking, during his moments of cold-induced weakness, a cow kicked the teat-dip cup out of Steve’s hand. It flew toward the front of the cow, just out of arm’s length.

“Here, just a minute,”I said, “I will get it for you.”

I tossed the water hose, with a spray nozzle on the end, near the teat dipper. It’s very handy to use the handle on the nozzle as a hook.

Just as I tossed it forward, the cow kicked in the perfect direction to land her foot directly on the top of my arm.

This happens quite frequently in the milking parlor. Most of the time the 1800-pound beast will feel the uneven ground and step off my forearm.

No harm done.

It just so happens that in this particular melee, Steve was standing right next to me, and he gave this beast a shove.

He shoved her as hard as he could.

Well, if you don’t know cows like I know cows, here’s what happens when you push a cow.

She pushes back with all her might. When you stop pushing, she stops pushing. One time, an employee was pinned between a cow and a post and he yelled for me to help him. I just looked at him and calmly said, “Quit pushing her.”

She quit trying to turn him into a pancake and he walked away a little red in the face.

So…when my doting husband tried to push the beast off the love of his life, well she dug in – right into my forearm. and I mean she dug and tried extra hard by grinding her left hoof into my skin.

All I could do was scream, “Ow! Ow! Ow!”

My arm was toast. It felt like ground-up toast.

I have no idea what ground-up toast feels like, but my arm really hurt.

My right arm was out of commission. Steve was slower than molasses.

We were a sad sight, but with no other bodies them to help finish, we were stuck with each other gimping along.

It’s several days later and my forearm is the size of the sausage stick I saw in the deli case at Cashwise. It’s probably going to turn the same color too.

Age sure makes illness and injury a problem.

Till next time…HUGS!

Won’t it fix itself?

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.
It worked.
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.

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