Got Milk??? - Home on the Range Blog at - 125689

Home on the Range

Got Milk??? 
Sep. 22, 2009 10:08 am 
Updated: Oct. 27, 2009 8:53 am
Years ago, living on our small family ranch in California, I was already moving in the direction of becoming more self sufficient, food-wise. I decided a milk cow was in order. I knew I would have a reasonable supply of fresh milk, cream, butter, and maybe cheese. The internet, at that time, had not been invented, in fact....we had no computers. So I was on my own to figure all these things out.

On my quest for our bovine beauty, I met a sweet old man with a dairy in Bakersfield, about 45 minutes down the mountain from our town. He told me he had a nice cow who freshened at 10 GALLONS a day, but was currently only giving 2 gallons daily...she had not gotten re-bred and would become a "butcher cow" unless I wanted her. We agreed on a price and I set out to pick her up. It was almost Thanksgiving, and we had heavy snow and ice on the road. I proceeded to hook up our massive 6 horse trailer and head for the big city of Bakersfield.
About 1/2 mile down our road, I came upon a CalTrans snowplowman, who informed me "You'll never make it down this road with that trailer"...I am NOT a great backer-upper (yes, that is a real word). It took me over 45 minutes to slip and slide down that narrow canyon road and avoid going off the embankment...normally it was a 7 minute drive. A quick and URGENT stop at the first available restroom and off I went to pick up the cow.

My first clue that this may not have been a real good idea, was when it took 8 men to load her, and one got smashed in the gate. They finally got her aboard, and my primary thought am I gonna milk this monster, all by myself?  You see, what I hadn't considered, was, she was a DAIRY otherwords, she had NEVER been handled or hand milked. She would just follow the others in to eat her 'candy' had electric doodaddy's stuck on her plugs and away she'd go. (yes, that IS a technical term).

I had the entire trip home to devise a plan to get her into my barn, and get her milked.
Skip ahead about 6 to 8 hours...there are rope marks and burns around every oak tree between the driveway and the barn, skid marks in the snow and mud that match my bootprints...there are several body indentations in the snow about my size, with cowtracks that seemly go right through them...but INSIDE the barn is a monstrous, muddy Holstein cow, with each hind leg tied to opposite corners of a stall, head locked between two boards, happily munching on hay, with a victorious young mother filling her bucket with milk, one squirt at a time. Ahhhh! The simple life!!

(photos have not been attached to this blog, to protect the innocent)
Sep. 22, 2009 11:57 am
ROTFLMAO!! Never a dull it! No photos necessary. I got a great picture of it all in my head.
Sep. 22, 2009 12:10 pm
heheh...that's because you KNOW!! LOL
Sep. 22, 2009 1:01 pm
Oh, you crazy kid you! Just goes to show, we should think at least 3 times before we act on such ideas. So, how's the milk? Any cottage cheese yet?
Sep. 22, 2009 1:10 pm
actually, the milk was real good...this was several years ago, I have a Jersey cow now, who is MUCH MUCH nicer! LOL
Sep. 22, 2009 4:49 pm
Thanks for a look at real life! As always thanks for a great blog. Mag
Sep. 22, 2009 8:15 pm
Petey, you are a riot. I love your stories.
Sep. 22, 2009 9:14 pm
thanx! Its been an interesting life so far :)
Sep. 23, 2009 12:06 am
You know, I can actually see the trip from the trailer to the barn in my mind! Amazing what we can do when we decide a course of action.
Sep. 23, 2009 6:15 am
Now, aren't you glad you didn't listen to that CalTrans guy? Think of all the fun you'd have missed! America wasn't founded by the weak and hesitant! Good for you. Thanks for the grins, Petey. And, you were right not to include pics, we got the best one in our minds!
Sep. 23, 2009 7:54 am
That is hysterical! We used to raise cows but they were free roaming. We never dared milk them as that would mean instant death. Thank you for giving me a much needed laugh!
Sep. 23, 2009 10:19 am
This made me ACTUALLY "lol!" I love your blogs and the ending to this gave me a perfect mental picture of what it took to get that cow to be milked. We always raised beef cattle who would do what you long as you carried a big stick and yelled really loudly :) Please, please keep these coming! P.S. I have used the term "backer-upper" on more than one occasion :)
Sep. 23, 2009 10:30 am
ROTFLMAO too!! Oh Petey, the tissues I went through for this one lol. Good call -no pics necessary at all. We had a Holstein mama-enough said. One Xmas we decided to leave home and my stepdad punished er ... I mean delegated responsibility. I remember him laughing and running out of the barn as I introduced her to my first pail bunter.
Sep. 24, 2009 7:37 pm
Lol! Reminds me of when we had goats who had never been milked before...and at first fiercely refused to be milked. After some time though, they'd fight each other to see who would get milked FIRST.
Sep. 25, 2009 5:12 am
Petey, you must be related to my husband Jake....milk cows:) We manage a beef cattle ranch...but we've got a herd of dairy cows. Thank God for milk machines:)
Mel K 
Sep. 25, 2009 6:43 am
Loved the story, I had laughter ringing throughout the house. It was really great and believe me we all need something to make us laugh in these tough times. Thanks again Petey. Blessings! Mel
Sep. 25, 2009 7:52 am
My family cringes whenever I start a project with the words "How hard could it be?" But it always seems to be worth the effort...or at least I have a great story! Thanks for sharing!
Sep. 25, 2009 8:26 am
I love your stories brings me back to my childhood memories. That really is the life.
Sep. 25, 2009 8:29 am
I'm just a city guy, but I got the picture REAL clear! Well done - and well written, by the way.
Sep. 25, 2009 10:39 am
So funny. Thank you.
Sep. 25, 2009 11:07 am
I would have screamed VICTORY! after all of that milking. That cow was a real handful, you must share your recipes with the fresh milk. Luv, ~Kat Full-time MOM & Shop Star Twitter: katluvsshoes Facebook: katrinarusso
Sep. 25, 2009 12:51 pm
Petey, I love your story!!! I grew up on a farm and we milked cows by hand for years! I so related to this! I wish I still had a milk cow for the freshness and cream!! Keep on writing such wonderful blogs. Ginny
Sep. 25, 2009 3:39 pm
Great story, petey! Just curious; did that cow ever tame up?
Sep. 25, 2009 5:21 pm
Lol! Great story~! All for the love of cheese! (well that would be my motivator)
Sep. 25, 2009 9:46 pm
thanks guys! and...well, yes, she would finally come into the barn by herself, but after she dried up, we couldnt find a bull tall enough to breed her for 2 years...when we finally did, she threw a staggy heifer that rammed my truck...the apple doesnt fall far from the tree!! LOL
Sep. 26, 2009 6:42 am
love your story, I am a Dairy Herd Improvement supervisor I test cows in 4 southeastern states it is good to know we still have people that know where a gallon of milk comes from pretty soon if you dont milk it fresh yourself you wont get fresh milk that is not shipped to your local store from thousands of miles away and then you have to pay a terribly high price for it that the dairy farmer gets less than a dollar a gallon for.
Sep. 26, 2009 7:09 am
There are very few things I enjoy as much as fresh milk and cream, and making our own ice cream, yogurt and all the great things that come with having an endless supply of the stuff!
Sep. 26, 2009 12:08 pm
Love it! Jerseys are the best. We have one that provides wonderful milk to drink & thick cream for butter, ice cream and so many other yummy things. Thankfully, my husband enjoys milking her!
Sep. 26, 2009 3:37 pm
Reminds me of the days when I was a ranch hand and had to chase down the bovine critters! Oh! Those were the days my friend!
Mary B. 
Sep. 27, 2009 11:42 am
You go, fella!! It shows that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to do. I remember growing up with cows too. It brought back lots of good memories!
Sep. 27, 2009 11:46 am
haha! thanks, but I'm a filly, not a fella haha!
Oct. 8, 2009 8:20 pm
That is AWESOME! You're my hero.
Oct. 21, 2009 7:46 pm
Love your blogs! Just found them today. I grew up on a 20-acre farm in Indiana. Dad farmed our farm, Grandpa's 300 some acres and also rented from the neighbors. We grew corn and soybeans. We had 10 Holsteins which we milked with automatic milkers twice a day. At first my brother and I only cleaned the barn, then when I was in high school, my dad got sick so we had to milk the cows also. So, I do know a little about those Holsteins! Thankfully, most of the time they just came in from the pasture and walked right into the barn. This was over 40 years ago, but I still remember. Never really missed the farm work, but I do miss living on a farm! I was the oldest, and I wished my brother was older a lot of times, so HE would have had to do stuff out on the farm and I could stay inside and cook! My little sister was the youngest and she never got initiated into the art of milking because dad gave up farming and was the auditor of a bank! (He could do almost anything, like ALL farmers!) I never particularly enjoyed driving a tractor and working in the fields, but, well, had to do it anyway!!! But, like I said, my sister did not do the milking thing. She told me one time she thought the cows were "cute", and I said that's because YOU never had to clean the barn and milk them! Now I sort of wish I had enjoyed those days more! Didn't realize all the blessings back then!
Oct. 27, 2009 8:53 am
yes, I do love the lifestyle, and its sad not many people get to experience that. We can count ourselves blessed, for sure
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About Me
Kids are raised, we are ranchhands on a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch 110 miles from the nearest small town, so we raise a lot of our own food, vegetables, fruits, milk,eggs and meat. Love riding and working cattle, but find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and the garden.
My favorite things to cook
Having 2 Jersey cows as well as milk goats, playing with fresh milk is a hobby, making our own butter, yogurt, sour cream, cheeses, soap and all the other great stuff you can do with fresh raw milk.
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Homemade from scratch...anything! All traditions are sort of gone by the wayside, as we live so far from family now
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Most things from this site, this has been the best thing the internet has had to offer!
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A layered Jello dessert...the middle layer never set, so it did the 'ooze-wiggle'...and...well..I liquified a couple of chickens on 2 different occasions, turning them into a black gel. Moral of that story is, don't start cooking then go clean barns!...and there was the time that my kids were helping me make Thanksgiving dinner and SOMEbody (who resembled my youngest son) forgot to put the sugar in the pie!!!
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