I don't know whether it's because my expectations were exceedingly low or whether it's because Mark seems to have a natural skill for milking a cow, but the whole milking thing has been going much better than anticipated, on my end at least.
This morning marks the 5th milking and most of what we've heard suggests that within a day or two the milk will take the turn from thick, sticky, yellow colostrum to drinkable, creamy Jersey milk.
I'm blaming my large belly on my lack of natural aptitude for milking, but I think I just need to suck it up and spend some more time trying, because mostly it's just my hands that tire out. We also haven't found the right size bucket or box for either one of us, so in these early days of time consuming milkings, it's not the most comfortable situation. Also, we have a nice stainless steel bucket, but it's too slippery to hold between our knees, so it ends up just sitting on the straw beneath the cow, which isn't ideal by any means. She doesn't move much, but some movement is inevitable and having the bucket in prime stepping range is tricky business.
The other challenge has been our previously friendly cow Rosie turning into a child-hating demon. We don't let the kids in the barn with her, but she will charge the door and gate if they are on the other side and paw at the straw like a bull in a movie. She seems to be threatened by Lucy even more than our dog. And Lucy has actually been really good about being calm and quiet around the barn for now. So, just another little challenge with wee ones around.
NOTE: Was interrupted at this point while writing this for a phone call from a man unloading grain over at the farm to tell me that Mark broke his hand and needs a drive to the hospital. Thankfully, the x-rays showed no breaks, just severe bruising. It was from a crank that raises and lowers the augers that snapped back around, caught Mark's hand and stopped when it hit his elbow. He got a stitch or two on his elbow since the crank hit hard enough to break the skin through 3 layers of heavy clothing, but there was ZERO wait at the hospital and things went smoothly. So as per expected, Mark is out and about on the farm, with a wrapped hand and bandaged elbow and full of painkillers, waiting for the frost to finally dry off so he can get the last 20 acres of soybeans off the field. We'll see how THAT goes.
Anyway, sadly enough, my first thought when I got that phone call was, "OH NO! I'm going to have to milk that cow all by myself!!!!" Hahaha. You can see that the sympathy runs pretty deep around here.
In other news, while I was waiting at the pharmacy to pick up Mark's prescription, I got a chance to (finally) pick up a copy of the latest Saltscapes magazine (a beautiful glossy paged magazine featuring unique and interesting articles about the Atlantic Provinces) and had a few minutes to browse through a great feature on organic and no-spray farming by Jodi DeLong. Jodi had contacted us a few months ago about the article and a photographer had come by to take some pictures a few weeks ago, so we were looking forward to seeing it and as with everytime we're in some kind of publication, you can never really prepare yourself with how it will look in the final version. There are three photos of the farm, including one of us near the grain tanks, Mark holding some grain and a hen, posing coquettishly. The article includes a profile of two other young organic and/or no-spray farms as well as an overview of new/young farmers and opportunities in the Maritimes. I recommend you pick it up, if for no other reason that check out the pics of Barnyard Organics of course!! And to tell me that I DO look pregnant, not just fat. hahahahahaha!!
Well, I'd best be off to do some hand strengthening exercises in preparation for tonight's milking. We'll see if the next milking update blog post is nearly as optimistic as this one started out! Bah. :)
Hope this finds you healthy and able-bodied.