Lucky for me, I had a couple of friends that were already established milkers at a local farm so they passed along the manager’s contact info to me and here we are.  My weekday mornings begin at 4am where I stumble around in the dark, careful not to make too much of a ruckus while I pull on some tattered jeans, thermal and a hoodie.  With a huge mug of coffee, I pick up a classmate and we head south of town, in the dark and on the lookout for hedgehogs in the road.  You have to watch your speed coming down the farm road because you’ll occasionally come across this:

Ladies headed to the dairy shed...

...care not that I'm running late

Even though Barry and I stroll in at the tragic hour of 4:45am, the farmers have already been out on their 4-wheelers bringing in the herd.  At 4:50am, the rotary starts and the ladies file into their stalls, one by one.

Once in, the ride for these ladies begins.  First, they pass through a low sprinkler that is supposed to rinse off their teats but mostly it just wets the poo and loads their tails up with the foulest water ready to be flung at us.  Right after the sprinkler, she encounters the “cups on” folk (which is what I do).  Our job is to take the cups, turn on the suction and simply stick them on the teats.

Notice how that one dude is taking a bird bath with the runoff water. After one day of being disgusted by it, I was soon like a raccoon rinsing off in a stream.

When putting on the cups you encounter kicking, poo streaked hocks, loose hoses and sometimes you just can’t get the cups to stay on no matter what.  The seasoned guys can pop the cups on without taking a step.  If I lose focus for one second I’m soon traveling with my cow 1/3 of the way around the rotary.  Because we’re working down in the pit with the cows above us in the rotary, the greatest danger is for a cow to lift its tail and just unload all over you.  When there are 1200 cows coming through twice a day, the odds are good that you will get hit.

This is my view for 3 hours a day

For God's sake, keep an eye on those tails!

Once the cups are on, the ladies can relax for a leisurely ride ’round the rotary.

Whee!

As they go around, one person keeps an eye on their tail paint to see who is in oestrus and gets drafted off the the side for artificial insemination.  Also, they get a paint touch-up.  It’s basically a big spa day.

Looking fab, ladies

And from there the cups come off, the ride is over, and they head out for a morning filled with grazing in the green, green, grass.

Buh bye, ladies

Unless she was drafted off to the side because her tail paint indicated she was in oestrus.  Those ladies get a special visit from the vet.

Oh shut up. You knew this picture was coming.

After about an hour hosing down the shed and the yards with powerful crowd control hoses, the morning milking is done.

The sun is up and it's time to head home

So that’s my morning.  What did you do this morning?

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