First time ever for me to milk a cow.
First time ever for Siobhan to be milked.
To get to this point I have done tons of research on the internet, joined a Yahoo "Milking Dexters" group and an "A2 Milk" group, perused online catalogs, ordered the necessary equipment, come up with plans for the milking stanchion I wanted, and cleaned the stanchion once Herb built it.
NSF stainless steel milk bucket, sterilized in the dishwasher
Lid from one of my pots that fits the bucket, washed and rinsed with boiling water
Bucket of teat wipes, opened and the center wipe pulled up for easy grabbing (like diaper wipes)*
Fight Bac teat disinfectant to apply to the teats after milking to discourage mastitis
These supplies went out to the barn with me.
*There are lower-cost ways to do what my milking supplies do. They are also more labor-intensive, for the most part. After reflection, I decided to go with "Easy" and "Foolproof." Maybe some day I'll switch to more labor-intensive but more cost-effective methods. Maybe . . .
NSF stainless steel milk strainer (left and the holey piece in the rear)
NSF stainless steel adaptor for mason jars (the ring at right)
Box of milk filters with one ready (right)
Mason jar sterilized in the dishwasher, ready to strain milk into
These supplies were ready to go on a clean paper towel in the kitchen
The first step was to get Siobhan in the stanchion with plenty of the food she loves. (Note to self: It works better if you remember to OPEN the head catcher bars BEFORE she puts her head into the bucket! It's a lot harder if you have to pull her head out of the bucket, push her back, open the bars, and then let her back at the food! Not to worry, there are bound to be a few kinks to work out!)
Now that the Home Pasture has recovered from having the cattle on it when Macree was born, I have them back again--handily across the drive from the barnyard. It was easy to clip a lead on Cash and Siobhan and lead them into the barnyard. Catching Macree was a little harder . . . I had to leave the gate open and let her follow. Then Cash got tied up out of the way while I left Macree to wander around.
1) It was a positive experience for Siobhan.
2) Siobhan never even thought about kicking, she was so busy eating.
3) I got milk to come out! I milked a goat once, many years ago. I knew how to do it in theory, but I'd never actually milked a cow. So milk squirting with a metallic tinkle into the bucket was HUGE for me!
4) When I couldn't get more than a dribble from a teat, I tried "butting" Siobhan's udder like the calf does, and I got more milk. I'm getting a feel for what to do.
5) Siobhan's front teats are short enough to make milking them a bit trickier, but I began to get the feel of where to "pinch off" up above the teats before squeezing.
I'll do a few things differently tomorrow:
I'll spray Siobhan for flies well before I put her in the stanchion (to avoid associating it with something she hates).
I'll try to get Macree in the pen next to the milking parlor, although Siobhan didn't seem at all worried about her. Or I may just let her up into the milking parlor if she wants to come.
I'll open the head catcher bars first; in fact, I left them open today when I finished.
I'll milk into a small stainless bowl because that bucket gets a bit heavy to hold up close to the udder.
I'll put ice into the bucket and place the bowl of milk in the ice as soon as I'm done milking.
I already ordered an NSF stainless steel lid on Amazon so I never have to track down a lid for the bucket.
And finally, I'll try to remember that I'm not going to be making butter, cheese and yogurt with an FF! I'm milking now because I'm training Siobhan and teaching myself so that when she freshens with her second calf, I'll have plenty of time to devote to making stuff with the milk I'll get!