Saturday, March 28, 2015

New routine

I could put the kicker on the cow and force her to allow two calves to mutilate her udder and teats, but as a female who has nursed a couple of babies, I can't in good conscience allow that.  So I am reverting back to my milkmaid days and milking Gracie twice a day.  On the plus side, winter is over, so I won't be freezing to death in a cold barn.  As I've stated before, Gracie gives down her milk easily and the milk comes out freely and fast.  She does a fairly good job of standing still while I milk, without my having to feed her half a bag of sweet feed to get her to behave.  She is relatively tall, which is important, since I can't sit on a low-to-the-ground milk stool.  I sit on a regular-height metal stool stolen from Cliff's shop to milk.  

Years ago I milked several cows and bottle-fed calves kept in individual pens all the time.  At that time I was able to tip a full bucket of milk and pour milk into a calf nursing bottle without spilling more than a few drops.  Well, I found out this morning that 2 1/2 gallons of milk in a bucket has gotten a lot heavier that it was thirty years ago, and I am not as steady as I once was.  Much milk was spilled onto the dirt floor of the barn, but I'm not going to cry over it.  

There are two types of calf bottles.  
This is the type I've used throughout my many years of calf-raising.  The nipple snaps on.  

This is the type of bottle I used this morning; it has a screw-on nipple.  I think I will purchase three more of them, because the opening is bigger, so it's easier to pour the milk in the bottle; the calves also empty this type bottle faster, thanks to the way the nipple is made.  I believe I also need to buy a half-gallon pitcher:  I will pour the milk from bucket to pitcher and then from pitcher to bottle.  Because, you know, I love to wash dishes.  Actually, I will probably just rinse out the stuff I use with the calves at the outside hydrant most of the time, perhaps washing it all thoroughly once a week in bleach-water.  

I need four bottles because each calf gets two bottles of milk (there is still some left over I will pour on the ground), and it's really hard to try and refill a bottle when you have a hungry calf goosing you with its nose as you pour.  My twice-a-day chore time has now increased from less than ten minutes twice a day to thirty minutes twice a day.  But then, what else was I doing?  Surfing the Internet, posting stupid status updates on Facebook, and playing Sudoku as I drank my coffee.  

Because bottle calves tend to suck on one another's body parts, I am keeping the calves separate for a half-hour or so after they are done nursing, hoping they will get over the most frantic time for sucking on stuff before I turn them out together.  If they were both steers it wouldn't matter much, but since Hope is a heifer, I'm doing what I can to prevent the nursing, because if her immature udder is nursed too much, it can be permanently damaged.  Somebody needs to invent pacifiers for calves!

News flash!!!!!  For fifteen bucks I can get a nursing bucket.  Since I separate the calves I can use the same bucket for both calves, and it will be EASY to pour the milk in it.


I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I like the idea of that nursing bucket. Now how do they keep it from getting knocked over when a calf is trying to nurse on it? That would be my question, or do you just stand there and hold the bucket for them?

Donna said...

Yes, you stand and hold the bucket. A calf can suck down a gallon of milk in a couple of minutes, so that's no big deal.


I LOVE it. You invented a new product. Pacifiers for calves. I bet you would sell hundreds. Sorry you now have new restraints on your time.