Trading Days


Having been a once-a-day milker for a long time, I’m now milking Glory Bee every other day, because that’s the kind of slacker milk maid I am. (Read more about milking once a day here.) Another alternative is every other day milking, which I did for some time also when Glory Bee was about Dumplin’s age. (See here.)

I remembered recently why I developed that system of trading days.

Dumplin’s getting real suspicious.
Used to, it was naught but child’s play to bring Glory Bee and baby over to the back barn yard to prepare for my milking day by separating them. Just set up the temporary fence lines across the access roads between the back barn yard and the cow field.
Call Glory Bee.
She comes galloping–really, galloping. She’s still a young cow. No lead required, she comes for food.
And she knows right where she’s headed. A milk cow is easy to train to the milking parlor.
She can hardly wait to get there and I just have to get out of her way. Even though I’m holding the food, she knows she won’t get it till she sticks her head into her headlock in her milkstand. She makes a beeline.
Now, to wait for Dumplin to come in the barn. I hide in a stall, letting her run into the milking parlor with Glory Bee. Then I shut the back alleyway door. I already have the front gate on the alleyway shut.
Here she comes.
I run her out of there and lock her in a separate stall.
Bring out Glory Bee to the back barn yard.
Let Dumplin out of the stall.
She stays in the barn overnight with water and hay, in earshot of mama. They can talk to each other, but Dumplin can’t get to her.
Next morning, I milk Glory Bee then put mama and baby together again, back to the field, for their day.

However, as I said, Dumplin’s gotten mighty suspicious lately. She’s onto me! I can’t fool her! And she doesn’t always follow mama into the barn anymore. One time recently, she went down the access road to the main road, across the road, and I had to chase her back in through the front driveway gates and into the front barn yard before I finally herded her into the barn. Whew. That’s more exercise than I need!

I’m working on finetuning my plan for the next phase. Dumplin’s old enough to separate her from Glory Bee longer than overnight, and it’s time to stop moving Dumplin. I’m still deciding what animals are going to go where, and there will probably be some domino effect moving other animals, rearranging who is in what field, to make room for Dumplin–who will stop returning to the cow field with Glory Bee. Mama will have to start coming to her, because mama is easier to move and doesn’t scamper around playing games with my head and laughing at me.

Yes, that’s right, I’m now calling Glory Bee the easy cow, and that still surprises me. And gives me hope for Dumplin!
(Yes, she needs her halter loosened again. Would you like to come help me wrangle her?)

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on May 15, 2013  

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12 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 5-15

    Oh, how I wish it were easier for you. That seems like an awful lot of work to do every second day! In the first pic you can surely see that careful curiosity in Dumplin’, one ear cocked back and although facing away, eyeing you and the camera with suspicion. She is such a sweetie though, that topknot and those muzzle bristles just make me want to reach into the screen and give her a tousle…yeah, right!

  2. 5-15

    OMG you wore me out just reading about all the manipulations you have to go through. It is so funny to see GP just running to where she is supposed to go! When I first met you via your blog GP was your pain in the neck and next thing to evil….now she is angelic. Time sure changes us all! And that Dumplin, she’s just so cute! But look out, she’ll turn into a teenager soon!!

  3. 5-15

    My, how quickly they grow up, it seems like yesterday we were all waiting for her to be born.

  4. 5-15

    So, not to change the subject or anything, but I wonder how BP is doing? We haven’t heard about her since March (unless she was mentioned previously in comments…and I am horrible about reading comments!), when she went down in the barn. I’m so glad GB is finally being the “good” cow. :) No more bad baby, that is unless, you count Dumplin’. Lil’ Stinker!

  5. 5-15

    What works for us is to keep the calf/calves separate from the Mama and turn her to them twice a day when you don’t milk. Yes, it is another chore but no chasing or driving is involved. Mama will come willingly to her baby morning and evening…..then, of course you have to turn her out.

    Be interesting to see what you work out. Every one does it differently.

  6. 5-15

    BP is fine! She has been seen in a few photos here and there! I will take a new photo of her soon to show everyone. :) If something bad happens, I will tell!

  7. 5-15

    Whew wore me out just thinking about chasing her all over. But someday I hope to be able to help out in a class or two at your farm and meet your animals. It seems that my weekends to work all fall on your class days. Someday…….. A girl can dream…can’t she??

    Have fun

  8. 5-15

    You need a cowhorse. Or a cowdog. Or both. :lol:

    Say, I re-read your ricotta cheese post the other day. Did you ever post about what to do with leftover whey? My only “livestock” are of the feline and canine varieties.

  9. 5-15

    The only thing I can say takes way too much time every day.
    BLESS you Suzanne.
    I spent hours each day with my steered calves and when we let them out they still came to us. You’ll get it right, you always do.

  10. 5-16

    It’s funny how each animal will work through and establish their own regimen (and finally get their human to catch on). You’re doing a great job Suzanne.

  11. 5-16

    Dumpling has the most beautiful golden color to her. I love that photo of her looking out the door.

  12. 5-16

    Why did I think Dumplin is a boy (and hence the food name)?

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