A week ago, I thought Max, the calf, was finally able to consume all his mother's milk. Every. drop. of. it. I rejoiced, because when he reaches that point we can leave home and not worry about Bonnie getting mastitis from an engorged udder.
For two days I didn't have to milk her.
Then I had to start milking again, because each morning she'd show up with two quarters that were so filled with milk they were solid to the touch. I had gotten my hopes up for nothing.
Yesterday morning I saw that the two quarters on her right side... the side I milk... were full and ready to be milked. I put feed in the stanchion, opened the door, pinned it back so it would stay open, and began to milk. Pretty soon Max came through the open door. He always does this, and I let him nose around the barn while I'm milking. It keeps him easy to handle, and comfortable with my presence. Because one day, you know, we'll load him and take him to the butcher, and I'd like it to be easy when we load him up.
This time, he went to Bonnie's left side and starting nursing. That's the side he'd already sucked dry. Meanwhile, I was milking away on my side of the cow. Max butted at Bonnie's udder from his side, which is something calves do when trying to make their moms let down more milk. All the milk was on my side, so he was wasting his time. He butted again and again. Then he came around to my side.
"Oh no you don't," I told him. "Not on MY watch. I've already started milking; I'm going to have to wash this bucket when I'm done. You are NOT getting any of it now. You should have sucked while the sucking was good."
He returned to his side of the cow and started butting at her udder again. I grabbed the stock prod (a harmless fiberglass pole you use to smack cattle with when you want them to move, not the kind that shocks them) and started reaching under Bonnie's belly to smack his legs. I wanted him to get out of my life.
I could have milked out a gallon of milk and let him have the rest from my side of the cow. The trouble with that is, "the cream is in the strippings", as my dad used to say. The last milk you strip from a cow's udder is the highest in butterfat. Cliff and I don't need cream, I'll be the first to admit. However, since I've been making butter with the cream I get from Bonnie (no, we don't need butter either... do you want to make something of it?), when I am forced to milk a cow, I want all the cream to which I am entitled.
Max finally gave up and went outside. I came in with my milk and strained two gallons; there was still about a quart left for the cats. When I went out, Max was doing his best to get milk from his mother, but of course she had none left.
The up side of this is that he must have been hungry enough to keep her sucked dry for twenty-four hours, because this morning her ample udder was floppy and empty. Once again, I have made it for a whole day without milking.
I'm not going to get my hopes up. But I really, really wish that calf would become a glutton.