Milking cows and rain do not go together
The heavy rains we have had here lately takes this old writer back to the ’40s and ’50s, and thoughts of milking cows.
We all just dreaded milking time because if the old girls were across the pond out behind the barn, their bags would be one big mess of mud and water. That meant we would be cleaning their bags off before milking. Sometimes that turned into a daunting chore because big globs of mud would have to be wiped off to make the teats slick and clean.
Then there were the tails. The tails of these old girls would be heavy with mud and water and, of course, with flies and mosquitos. The cows would be switching their tales and on occasion the milker would get a nice, wet, sloppy, manury tail across the face. Not too sanitary. That meant having to stop the milking, grab a towel and try to wipe the wetness, the mud and the manure off our faces.
We tried to tie the tails up but the girls would begin to fight it and become restless and it turned out not be the thing to do. We always tried fly spray but there was worry the spray would get into the milk.
So summer milking after a rain was always dreaded.
Evening chores were the most drudgery. There was milk to carry up to the house. Turn the old cream separator, and carry the skim milk back to the barn to feed the pail calves with it and some to the hogs mixed in with ground feed. It has always made me wonder if those old pigs ever got drunk on that mash mixed with ground feed, because sometimes we would have too much milk and we would leave it mixed in with the ground feed and it would sit there during the hot days and just sort of churn and slowly ferment.
There were always chickens to feed, ducks, geese, turkeys, and tame geese and guineas! We usually gathered eggs in the morning. During the summer we didn’t have to water the poultry because of the stream of the overflow at the water tank provided plenty of water. But the sheep, hogs and pets had to have water.
There were chicken hens who were “clucks” to set on a set of eggs for hatching. We always marked on the calendar the days we set those hens and eagerly looked forward to three weeks later when little chicks would appear. Sometimes we would take the chicks away from the old clucks and give her baby ducks. Oh, how she would scold when these little fur balls found the overflow stream of the water tank. Must have made her crazy to think her brood would want to swim in a stream.
Sometimes we would set duck eggs under an old cluck. Then she would have to sit an extra week because ducks took four weeks to hatch. We would have set goose eggs under a cluck also, but no one was brave enough to go near a goose nest because you could plan on being picked by that hurting beak. Oh that hurt.
Gerald “Jerry” Krueger is a retired educator, coach, commercial pilot and farmer.