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 was...how am I gonna milk this monster, all by myself? You see, what I hadn't considered, was, she was a DAIRY cow...in 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)