Sunday, July 12, 2009


The rain had stopped, and I saw Bonnie and her calf were up near the barn. I figured I'd better see how much excess milk she had in her udder while she was handy. I went and got Cliff so he could take pictures, because it's rare that he's awake or around when I milk. Normally I wouldn't be barefoot, because if the cow stepped her foot forward, she could step on my foot. However, with the mud and all, I just went on out there, hoping for the best.

You can't tell it, but I'm washing off her udder here.

Then I tossed the towel onto Bonnie's back, saying, "Here, hold this."

Cliff took pictures from all angles.

See? She stands perfectly still while I milk.

However, she doesn't "let down" her milk if her calf hasn't nursed a little, or unless he is nursing while I milk. I went inside with this milk and strained it; then I looked out the window and saw her calf nursing, so I went back out and milked almost twice as much as I had gotten ten minutes earlier. This is normal behavior for a mama cow.

So, when the calf is big enough to take all her milk, if I keep her away from him all night in order to get some milk for us, I will have to let him start nursing first if I want very much milk. If I were milking her twice a day all the time and feeding the calf a bottle, she would soon let down her milk for me just like she does for her calf.


Hollie said...

I remember my mom milking like that when I was little. Then we would fight to churn....LOL

The Guy Who Writes This said...

What are you doing with the milk?

Donna said...

Guy, we use perhaps a gallon a week. Cliff's sister uses 1 or 2 quarts.

I am only milking until the calf is able to take it all. I don't want the cow's udder to get misshapen from being swollen with milk. By the time Sir Loin is a month old, he should be handling it fine. Then, if I want milk, I will keep him away from his mom for 12 hours, milk two of her quarters, and turn them loose together until I need milk again.

madcobug said...

It sure is hard to milk when a cow holds her mild for her calf. She is a good one to stand still like that. Glad that you didn't get your toes stepped on. Helen

Muhd Imran said...

Very cooperative Bonnie. I'd sure want to give it a try milking a cow... only thing is, will it give me a flying kick.

Midlife Mom said...

This post sure brought back memories of milking down at my grandfather's farm which was just down the road from us. I never was very good at it and we always milked in the barn with the tail up on a hook so that they couldn't splat us in the face with it! I've been stepped on, not fun. We used to help Grammie churn and always ate what we called 'cows butter' the butter that she made. It was bright yellow and sooooooo good!

Your great granddaughter is gorgeous!

Jennifer said...

You and Bonnie make quite the team! I have really enjoyed following your blog. I wanted to let you know that we ended up keeping two of her sisters and the one that was wild when you and Cliff were there is still wild. She doesn't kick but is always frantic until she is settled into the stanchion. The other heifer is just like Bonnie, calm and easy to work with. We are also sharemilking and haven't had problems with either one letting down but we have started separating for short stretches to let the girls onto a bigger pasture (I don't quite trust those sneaky calves yet... they hide too well!) I'm emailing you a pic of our colorful bull calf.

ms martyr said...

How do big dairies get their cows to let down their milk? I thought they separated the calves almost from birth.