Thursday, September 10, 2009

MILK MAID: A Dairy Farming Experience

WOW! There is so much to do here in the small town of Otorohanga. I thought I would really miss the hussle and bussle of the city life, but I find that I haven't missed it as much as I thought. Ok, ok... I do have to admit I do miss Chik-fil-A and Wendy's Frosty's!! YUMMY!

Since Otorohanga is a *dairy farming community,* I have had the opportunity to visit many church members dairy farms and see the action first hand! What an experience! :)

Once a city gal, now experiencing the country life for what it really is. I LOVE IT!

My first day on the farm, I thought the cows were going to be friendly enough and let me feed them the hay off the ground. Ummm, yeah, that didn't happen. They must have been too hungry for chit chat, I guess! :)

The baby calves are really cute. Will didn't think so though. I think he secretly liked the experience, he is just too afraid to say it! :) The calves like to suck on your fingers since they are still milking--- if you aren't too careful-- they will keep sucking and can suck all your fingers until your whole hand is slimy! yeah, its gross-- but still neat as can be!

This was the day I went to the Phillips farm- I saw my first calves born just twenty minutes or so before we arrived at the paddock to feed the cows. It was kinda gross and kinda neat at the same time. It's all business in dairy farming-- the calves are quickly taken from their mothers-- I felt bad for them, honestly. I don't think I could handle some stranger taking my newborn baby away from me just minutes after they were born. But here, its strickly business... so I helped round up the mothers.

You don't see alot of mud in Tallahassee, but here you do; especially on the farms! My opportunity to stomp around in the mud. Slimy, icky and sticky! It's alot of fun.

My next farm I visited was the Anderson's farm. We arrived for lunch and then went out for the afternoon milking. Of course I had to get all suited up the appropriate gear!
What you never see in the movies, is how farmers travel in STYLE! No horse and buggy here... we rode the *motorbike* (AKA: four-wheeler) down to the shed.
In rounding up the newborn calves, I decided to try and get one myself. Oh boy, those calves are HEAVY. I actually dropped in on the ground right as I was putting it in the crate. Yeah, they are really heavy. The calf dropped, I stumbled over-- luckily neither one of us fell completely over. It was quite funny though.

On to feed the calves!
Calves, calves and more baby calves!! They just keep sucking on your fingers!!! hahaha!
We had to feed the little ones milk--- It was great fun. After we finished with the calves--- it was time to milk the cows!

The milking shed is like a big turn table that spins as the cows are being milked. They step off as the milk straps are released. Its quite an impressive process. When I realized that THIS was the milking for the day, I was quite disappointed. I had practiced over and over in my head, exactly how I was going to physically milk a cow. "Does this mean I am not going to be able to MILK a cow?" I asked my husband.
"This is how they do it," he replied back.

In just a few short minutes I was being shown how to milk a cow and *I* was able to quirt a few drops of milk out of the utter, myself. Although I did not milk enough to fill a glass-- just knowing that I actually knew the process of milking and squeezed milk from a cows utter like Laura Ingles Wilder-- I went home happy as could be! I milked a cow!

I can't wait to go back. Summer time is coming and I love the experiences the farm life has to offer. There are still so many more farms I have yet to explore. I think Will likes it more and more as he goes. We have fun. He goofs off with the animals too-- although he would never admit it :)

I hope to keep you posted on my upcoming farming adventures. There is so much left to do! I really admire the farmers and their lifestyle. They work hard, but their attitude is relaxed and fun loving. Every farmer that I have been around (including their working environment), despite the pressures of their workload, they remain consistent in their attitude, actions and are ever joyful to be around.

Thank you my friends for showing me the joys of farm life! I look forward to more :)