I am so thrilled right now, giddy to the bone, and I can't help but tell the whole freaking world! I got milk! Got milk, baby! Yes! The Milk is in! I am the freakin' merriest milkmaid ever! Yep, you guessed it, I squeezed a big old bucket of milk from my crazy heifer this morning!
Everything was finally in place. The stanchion over-built as per specs. The girls comfy and familiar to life here. I'd developed the knack for that peculiar finger wave curl involved in milking without damaging teets or creating mastitis. The tools were assembled. It was time to wean. I actually forgot to the night before, but then I remembered last night. Sukey locked in to one stall, with tons of hay. And Hendrika went in to the other, with tons of hay. And neither did they moo or wine or fuss. No big deal. I think Hendrika was probably ready for this moment... if I know anything about it, being a woman who nursed for 6 years straight herself. Regardless of readiness, I anthropomorphized some sweet sadness on to them, knowing this was the beginning of the end of their tight, nuzzling relationship. I felt a little bad too, for my role in that. But I consoled myself with the fact that Hendrika will likely have 8 more babies, give or take a few. She'll get over it.
The loudest bellowing on earth awoke us at 5:30 AM. It echoed across the prairie and I couldn't pinpoint where it was originating. Was that ours? Or the Angus herd across the street? I bumbled into my polk-a-dot barn boots, and stumbled out with buckets to see if it was Hendrika and if I should milk. Huck and Blue bounded behind me. Everyone (except the snoozing Coyote) was very eager to see the results of the night.
We've been getting a teaspoon every morning. It hasn't been rewarding, emotionally or lactically. But I was practicing, and getting all used to the routine. Cows, they tell me, are ALL about routine. I'm not, really. But since kids are ALL about routine too, I figured I could handle it. I was a little worried about her milk production. We'd seen Sukey nursing periodically but had no idea how much she was getting, so we didn't know what to expect this morning.
The bag, as they call it, looked as if it might pop like a balloon. I didn't know if I COULD get anything out of that rock. But 10 minutes later, I had a good half gallon with foam. FOAM! On the TOP! And that's when my jelly arms gave out. And Hendrika decided to lay down! I grabbed the bucket, but once she felt it on her side, she stood back up again. And there you have it! The bag was still stone hard, but it wasn't hot, which would indicate mastitis.
I've been to the ER for mastitis before, which included tracking down my arms! The elderly woman upstairs had come down to check on me, and I was bizarrely out of it and she asked what was wrong and I showed her and she threw me and Blue into her car and sped us to the ER. Thank goddess for elderly, experienced, and caring landladies!
Anyway, my over-abundance of breastfeeding experience certainly comes in handy here. Who knew breastfeeding was preparatory work experience!?
So... there you have it. I let Sukey have the rest, assured she'd empty her out. I'll work up my milking stamina before I wean her entirely. My hands stung from my labors, and I even developed a blister!
I hastened to the house to strain the milk into my spigotted sun tea jar. This way, the cream will separate in the fridge and the milk will get siphoned off the bottom. Listen to those words: cream, milk. YES! And butter and yogurt and cottage cheese and mozzarella and marscapone and ICECREAM! Oh lordy, it's the land of milk and honey!
It's the land of damn good milk! Hot diggity!