Sunday, June 17, 2012

Milking Cow



If this is going to be Milk Week, I guess we better get started with some pictures and info  on milking a cow. This picture was taken in 1900, and shows a wonderful mountain scene with several pioneer women milking a cow. I love the trees and old log cabin in the scene.

Now to be honest with you, I have never milked a cow, but I have seen it done and so can share some insight with you. The first key to milking a cow is to appease the cow. So, if you give the cow something good to eat in a bucket when you want to milk her, you will be starting off on the right foot. Then, the cow for some reason will want to either step in the bucket (right after you have successfully milked her) or will kick the bucket over. Because of this you will want to tether the back legs together to keep this from happening. Then, you will want to wash the udder, and finally get down to milking the cow. You don't want to mess around, you want to get the job done because the cow will start losing patience. If you have more experience or would like to add your  insights, please post your comment.

Here in Africa, it is amazing to me how many things are like stepping back in time a hundred or a hundred and fifty years. Yes, the cows are still milked by hand. Georgina works at Mattaw, but it is not her job to milk the cow, but she enjoys doing it, so sometimes she goes out and helps. The video below shows her milking the cow, and demonstrates expert form and results.


15 comments:

  1. This is the photo you should have posted yesterday. A nice seamless move from log cabins to milk.
    When I read about the way you would milk, I thought HUH. We never did anything with buckets or ever tied the real legs together. The cows were so well self-trained that they would go to the same stall ever time, almost ever time. When one cow would forget and go to the wrong stall, the cow that belonged to that stall would just stand there and moo at the other one.
    The only buckets we used were the ones that we milked into.

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    1. But I guess that is not a log cabin, but a log animal shed.

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  2. My grandmother and aunts and uncles had milk cows in New Mexico. Usually one or two, just enough for the family to have milk and butter. My grandmother had a milk cow named "Ann" who was half Holstein and half Guernsey. She gave as much milk as a Holstein and rich as a Guernsey. Her cream line came all the way down below the long neck on a glass milk bottle. She gave so much milk the family couldn't use it all so they had a "milk run" and delivered raw milk around town.

    There was no shortage of butter or ice cream in the house!

    Holsteins are the famiiar black and white cows at dairies. Their milk has so little cream that the milk is "practically" blue, next to a Guernsey.

    You had to hobble the hind feet to avoid the inevitable "foot in the bucket" and tie the tail into the hobbles to avoid being slapped up aside the head with a less than sanitary tail.

    As a very small child I can remember sitting beside my grandmother, scrunched against the barn wall while the cow above us had a kicking fit, both hind feet reaching for the sky.

    Also, if the hind feet aren't hobbled the milker could get "cow kicked," as cows like to kick to the side.

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    1. I guess we must have been lucky, because we rarely had that problem. I can only think of it having happen once.

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  3. I agree that there is no greater combination on earth than a glass of cold WHOLE milk (from a glass bottle) with either a peanut butter sandwhich, chocolate cake, pies, or cookies.

    Unfortunately, we are to "health concious" today to enjoy these simple pleasures in moderation.

    Personally, I love milk, but have become lactose intolerant - so I am reduced to drinking Lactaid from the grocery store if I want to indulge.

    Here in Rhode Island, we still DO have a couple of local dairies that still deliver door-to-door (with the traditional milkman who wears a little bow tie), and I'd LOVE to patronize them - but I can't drink much milk any more.

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    1. Try goat milk -- a lot of people who are lactose intolerant can drink goat's milk without a problem. If you like whole milk, try milk from a Nigerian Dwarf. It has the highest butterfat content of all the dairy goats and is wonderful.

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  4. No experience milking a cow. Some experience with dealing with dairy cows when I rode with a large animal vet in Vermont years ago. (I stopped drinking milk for a few years after a few trips to a dairy barn.) I have Nigerian Dwarf goats --- small, easy to handle, don't require a lot of feed and for their body size, produce a good quantity of milk. Unlike the cows I seen, goats don't defecate when being milked. I've never hobbled a goat, but I suspect when I bred my doelings this fall I'll probably need to hobble them short-term while training them to a milk stand next spring.

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  5. Most people that are lactose intolerant can drink raw milk without a problem.

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  6. As a kid I milked cows. We were not smart enough
    to hobble them. I sat on a milking stool with my
    head against the cow so you could feel her start to
    kick. The bucket was on top of your feet so you
    could move and take the bucket with you when she
    kicked. The wet dirty tail was also fun.

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  7. Isn't it strange that humans are the only mammals that continue to drink milk long past infancy?

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  8. I have never milked cows but I have milked goats. I generally didn't hobble them but I kept my head pushed into the goat's flank. That cut down on the foot in the milk or kick the milker shenanigans.

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  9. Don't know if you remember PJM that until 1976 or so I milked a cow every morning before school.Never hobbled or any thing like that. We usually had it done in 5 minutes or so--took less time to milk than it would to put on hobbles. We had a Jersey and a Holstein.

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    1. MattB,
      I did not know you milked a cow. So why did you stop in 1976? Why are you not milking today? My neighbor has goats and she milks goats every day. That is all the milk she drinks is goats milk

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    2. We sold the cow and went to store bought.

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  10. I liked Rebacca2's comment.
    I can just see her & granny out there milking the cows.
    It just doesn't get much more wholesome then that.

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