Archive for December 2012

On Stands Now


Check out the “Milk Once a Day” article in the January/February Hobby Farms magazine! I’m in there!

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Milking in the Snow


Milking in the snow at Stringtown Rising actually meant milking in the snow. There were times I milked BP outside, anywhere I could, IN THE SNOW. The milking setup there was not ideal, and didn’t work well, and I would change around and milk her anywhere. I’d rather have snowflakes falling on my head than try to get to a milk stand mired in mud so thick, it sucked my boots off. There’s always mud on a farm in the winter, of course, but that was especially bad.

Yesterday, I woke up to a good cover of snow. My milking machine cart waited for me outside the back door.
I have a nice, dry milking parlor here, which I love. I do have to get through some mud to get there, though, and there’s not much way around it. When the ground is wet and animals tromp on it, it gets stirred up and swampy and boot-sucking. But a nice, dry parlor with electricity is waiting for me if I can get there.
I load up the cart.
Down the driveway. It’s not a long, steep driveway, but it’s got enough incline to it to make me watch it or the cart will take off.
My cow is waiting for me at the gate. And she’s impatient!
I have to get the cart, and the bucket of food, past her and get to the barn. Most days, this is no problem. With a fresh coat of snow and extra boot-sucking mud, it’s enough hardship to make me feel alive. Sometimes this farm is too easy! I might as well live in the suburbs! A little challenge gets my blood pumping and exercises my determination. Everybody else wishes I was coming to them with my bucket.
Donkeys are waiting for me in the barn.
They’re used to me coming with my cart now and mostly get out of the way. Dumplin is waiting for me in the milking parlor.
She’s glad to see me! I come with mommy! But…. She has to wait a few minutes. I get my things in there, transferred from one cart to another, and hook the machine up before mommy can come in. Glory Bee waits at the parlor door, eager, slightly irritated by the delay. I dump her bucket of food in her feed tray last thing and let her in.
I’m still just hooking her up to two lines. I let Dumplin do the rest. I get the front, she gets the back. I’m getting a regular 3/4 gallon a milking and that is more than enough for me. Might as well let Dumplin get fat. Though Dumplin keeps telling me she’s not going anywhere….. Yesterday, Glory Bee kicked off one line. Since I keep two turned off, I can always hook up a clean one if she gets one dirty. She’s still kicking quite a bit, but I don’t think she’s kicking because of the milking machine but rather because of Dumplin’s excitement. Dumplin bumps her hard, quite a bit, so anxious to get to mommy’s milk. Glory Bee gets annoyed and when Dumplin bumps her hard, Glory Bee kicks up.
If it becomes too much of a problem, I will have to kick Dumplin out. Eventually I won’t be able to let her milk at the same time I’m milking anyway. Calves get so rambunctious. She already tries to knock off my lines. I’m taking it one day at a time. When the time comes that I can’t let Dumplin be with us when I’m milking, I’ll run her out when I bring Glory Bee in, or move her to another stall if she proves too hard to run out. For now, she’s still so young that I let her share milking time with me. When it’s over, I get everybody out of the milking parlor.
Dumplin finishes the job outside.
I have to drag the even heavier cart back up the driveway to the house.
I clean everything up in the studio and skim the milk from the day before and set the new day’s milk.
It’s winter on the farm….. And I have milk! And on a cold snowy day when I don’t want to go to the store, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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