A Photo Essay
Starring Siobhan and Introducing Macree
Photos by Jennifer Lea
Captions by Susan Lea
Milking Demonstration by Jean-Marc Wallimann & Susan Lea
Back at Thanksgiving, Jean-Marc helped me milk one morning, and Jenny documented the whole process. She applied her photographer's eye to catch the entire experience from each of our perspectives. She captured not just Jean-Marc and me as we milked, but also the viewpoints of Siobhan, and her heifer, Macree, as well as a unique birds-eye view that would never in a million years have occurred to me. Siobhan seemed completely unfazed by having two people milking her while a third clambered around her head and over her back and poked a camera into her most intimate functions as a mother and family milk cow! With all the busy-ness of the holidays, I was slow to get around to doing this post, but Jenny's photos are so great I just have to share them. You may never set foot on a farm, but I think that after seeing this photo essay you'll feel you were right there with us. The only thing you can't experience is a glass of ice cold milk back at the house!
|Milking starts with setting up feed for Siobhan and Macree.|
|Siobhan hears the clang of the feed bin and heads my way.|
|"Hurry up, Mommy! I'm hungry!"|
|I halter Siobhan and tie her to a post.|
|She thinks about her feed and starts to drool.|
|This makes her have to pee and poop, which is much better done in the barnyard than in the stanchion!|
|I bring Macree out of her stall where she's been shut up overnight.|
|Macree is hungry, too, and helps with a "let down" nursing |
so Siobhan "releases" her milk from the udder, available for milking.
|Siobhan is seriously thinking about that feed waiting for her.|
|"Let's get this show on the road!"|
|Macree goes readily to her feed tub beside the stanchion, and I tie her up.|
|Siobhan goes right into the stanchion and starts eating.|
"Now that's more like it!"
|Siobhan's udder is |
disposable teat wipes.
|I apply Bag Balm to my fingertips and smear it onto the udder and teats. Dry hands and dry teats translate to painfully pulled skin for Siobhan.|
|I express milk from each teat onto the floor to make sure there's no lumpy,|
clotty milk which would indicate mastitits. This milk is good to go!
|I start with two hands straight into the bucket. Look at the spray!|
|When the less-productive front quarter is empty, I switch to a hand-held cup.|
This way, if Siobhan moves a leg suddenly, I don't have to cry over spilt milk.
I grasp the teat firmly between my thumb & forefinger . . .
|. . . roll my other fingers down and squeeze, and the milk squirts into the cup.|
|Jean-Marc caught on quickly.|
|Milk spray sparkles in the sunlight.|
|Not every cow will let two people milk at the same time!|
|Like her mama, when Siobhan finishes her grain, she picks up her tub and|
tosses it! Jenny kept putting the tub back and making Siobhan toss it again
until Jenny got the perfect shot!
|This is what milking looks like from Siobhan's perspective.|
|And this is what it looks like at the business end of things.|
|Jean-Marc found the "stripping" technique worked best for short teats and|
long fingers, definitely helped along by Bag Balm.
|"My feed is gone. I want some more milk!"|
|Macree zooms in for a second "let-down" nursing.|
|Macree switches from teat to teat and butts the udder with her head until Siobhan lets down more milk. "Yum!"|
|Don't worry--I'm going to wash it again!|
|A slobbery milk face means there's more milk ready for Jean-Marc and me.|
|It also means a slobbery udder that needs to be washed again!|
|No more slobber.|
|Now it's clean and dry . . .|
|. . . and cleaned with teat wipes again.|
|We got over 2 more cups after the second let-down nursing.|
|When we finished, I let Macree out first, then Siobhan. |
She always grabs one last mouthful of hay, "one for the road."
|Siobhan doesn't get a kiss every day, but she earned one today, sweet thing!|
|We shoo Siobhan away until I can get her empty feed tub, put it in the barnyard and dump in the soaked alfalfa cubes. She tends not to poop in the stanchion now that she gets her alfalfa after milking is done.|
|No job is over until clean up is done. Today was a "neat" day so all I have to do is sweep, pour the used wash water over the milk on the stanchion, and sweep the water out. Then everything is clean and ready to go tomorrow.|