Saturday, December 18, 2010

Milking Cows

Today was a big day for me. I woke up very excited after a fitful night's sleep. Yes, I was going to milk some cows! I know that for some this isn't really a big deal but if you're like me and grew up in a city, the closest you've probably been to cows is at a county fair or in the meat aisle of your local market. This was big. Chiquinquirá, cows, and me...a trio made in heaven!

As you can probably guess, I didn't do the 4am milking shift. I'm not that crazy. I opted for the more pedestrian 2pm shift. First step in the process was to mount the donkey...with the cart that's used to bring the cow food, supplies, and milk cans back and forth to the field. Outside world, meet Pepe the donkey:

I think that the cows are as excited to be milked as I was to be doing the milking. When they see Pepe they actually come running over to the milking station. It's obvious that there's a pecking (mooing?) order since the most aggressive cows were the first into the station. I hadn't seen this much pushing and shoving in line since I left China.

Once the cows are in the stalls metal bars are locked into place around their necks so that they can't back out. A rope is tied around their legs to help prevent them from backing out or trying to kick someone.

Two scoops of yummy Purina Cow Chow is mixed with one scoop of cow supplements. (I think that this is where the cow excitement comes from.) Milking commences at this point. The milker (?) sits on a small stool and proceeds to work away.

After about 30 minutes of observation, it was time for my big moment. I got on my stool and began frantically to grasp, yank, pull, and push like a 16-year-old boy trying to undo a bra. I can't say that I was very good but I did manage to get some milk into the bucket. Each cow seemed to give about two gallons of milk; I managed enough for this week's coffee...

It started to rain really hard about five minutes after the above photo was taken. I used my Scooby sense to figure out that the milkers wanted me to move along so that they could get done and get back home. I stayed around for a bit watching them work. Did I mention that it was raining? Hard.

After all the cows have been milked, everything is loaded back onto Pepe's cart and taken over to the house to be put away. The milk cans are placed at the end of the driveway to wait for the milk truck to come. It's a tank truck that has a vacuum hose coming out of it that they use to suck up the milk.

When I told my dad that I had milked a cow, he immediately asked me if I was sure that it wasn't a bull. Thanks Dad. Here's the video of me milking A COW:

Overall it was a super experience. I had a great time, made 19 new (cow) friends, and found a different exercise to increase hand and forearm strength. I hope that I get some more seat time with the cows in the future. Until then, I'll have this photo to help me remember my glory day...

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