MILKING COWS

The cows in this picture don’t look anything like the cows I used to milk, however they are in the same pasture that was very familiar to me as a child!
When I was about twelve years old, my brother and I were put in charge of three milk cows for the summer. A couple of gentle Jerseys and a Guernsey.
We milked by hand, morning and night.  In the morning we called them to the barn "come boss–come boss" they would often beat you to the back door of the barn to be let in.  My brother, Carey would ready their feed rations while I locked them in their stanchions.
I always got to carry the warm bucket of water from the house.  Part of this was put in a small bucket with a soft rag for washing udders and teats.  Part of it was saved for clean up.  You had to get the milk can out of the concrete cooler, and take the lid off and put the strainer with a clean filter into the top of the milk can.  You also needed your milk pail..we had two.
How to milk a cow…first you wash the udder and teats ..it helps to let down the milk. The cows teats should be squeaky clean and dry.. you need a pail and a little milk stool.  You have to position yourself in a comfortable milking position..cause you are going to be there about ten minutes. The top of your head will be resting on the flank of the cow, you grab two teats expressing the milk  ( this part is hard to explain..you use your fingers in a motion to move the milk out of the teat so it will refill from the udder..there is no yanking or hard squeezing just a gentle motion).  The first few squirts are always for the barn cats and they knew it..because they were  all lined up meowing.  It was a nice rule..cats first..later I guess it was explained to me  that the first few squirts of milk may have bacteria or dirt in them ..so it was always discarded.  The pail, well you can set it on the ground and protect it with your feet, or hold it in between your knees.  I would hold it between my knees and Carey would bring me a new pail if it got too heavy. I can still hear the rhythmic swoooosh, swoooosh of the milk going into the pail.  You didn’t want to spill the milk in your pail, all that work would be for nothing.  Sometimes if you had a cow that had a sore teat she would try to kick you and your milk pail.  You could always count on getting switched in the head or face with her tail. Cows usually enjoy the milking experience, so if you talk to them in a calm voice..and are a gentle milker they will cooperate very nicely.  After the cow was completely milked and all the milk stripped from her teats..the milk was dumped into the strainer sitting on top of the milk can.  When you had completed milking for the day the milk can was lifted into a concrete cooler filled with water and tied down.  Carey and I always did this together as the milk can was usually very heavy.
After the cows were milked we brushed them and gave them a good dose of fly spray before letting them out into the pasture for the day.  If it was a stormy, rainy night, sometimes they stayed in the barn all night. We cleaned out the gutters and put down new straw for bedding when it was needed.
Jody would sometimes accompany us to the barn in the evenings..he was about three..I can still see him lining up with the barn cats..begging for a drink..I had pretty good aim..even though he had a old tin cup that he was supposed to use for a drink..I often squirted some in his mouth for him.
We milked for a couple of summers with just a few cows, then the herd was expanded and we got a Surge Automatic Milking System.. a whole different ball game:)

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3 Responses to MILKING COWS

  1. Avatar of homd homd says:

    I remember my aunt and uncle’s Surge system. It was a godsend at the time, and it was fun to watch the milk pulse through the glass tubes along the top of the stanchions. I was always fascinated at how it worked.

  2. Avatar of farguy farguy says:

    That reminds me, we’re out of milk.

  3. Avatar of abra la mente says:

    Now there is a skill I never learned…unless you count the saw horse cow I made for my preschool teaching years, complete with rubber glove udders. :>)