A Hard Day’s Morning


What Jack looks like next to Beulah Petunia:

I’m milking Beulah Petunia inside a sheep shelter in the meadow bottom right now. The first couple of days, we just had her tied to a post in the shelter. That didn’t work that well because she could move around quite a bit. Side to side. Back and forth. It’s pretty hard to work that way. She doesn’t kick, but oh she moves! Once she runs out of her feed, she gets a little restless. I can’t blame her. I’m not an experienced milk maid and it takes me forever to milk her.

I got about 3/4 gallon out of her the first day. The second day, another 3/4 gallon. I was worried that I wasn’t milking her enough so I went back in the evening and got another quart when we were trying out the new milking stanchion that 52 built for me. Now, instead of tying her to a post, her head goes into a head-lock and while she can still move a little bit side to side, she can’t move back and forth much. And her side to side movements are limited by the stanchion sides.

I drove down to the meadow bottom, sore and exhausted from the first two days of milking, but determined. I had a stanchion! I was in business!

We’re going to move her up to an area close to the house as soon as the fencing is in (and move the sheep to another–separate–area, too), so milking her in the meadow bottom is a temporary situation, but it comes with a number of obstacles. Meaning, sheep. Who want Beulah Petunia’s feed. All three pastures were open so everybody could get to the creek, so I set my milking bucket and a big leaf of hay on the side of the road before I went inside the fence. I carried another big bucket of feed to coax the sheep into the first field where I could shut them out from the milking. I’d almost made it to the gate into the first field when Mr. Cotswold rammed me from behind.

That’s always an enjoyable experience.

I ran into the field, threw some feed on the ground, and ran back through the gate, shutting it behind me before they could come back after me. Then I walked back across the field and to the gate to get my milking bucket and the hay I’d left in the road. Beulah Petunia stood there by the gate, waiting. She’s patient like that. She already knows the routine. She knows when I start heading for the creek crossing into the field where the sheep shelter is, it’s treat time. She lumbers along after me like a dinosaur-size dog. She doesn’t go at a desperate run like sheep or goats. She just plods along, bent on her destination, in a state of zen.

I tossed the feed down behind the head-lock. She put her head right in and I closed it up over her neck. We were all set! All the running back and forth across, by now, three fields, was worth it! Not to mention getting rammed by a sheep. So what if I was sore and tired. The stanchion was working great. I was doing great with the milking. I was going to get a gallon from her.

I had just over half a gallon when I looked up to see her looking back at me.

She can’t look back at me if her neck is in the head-lock.

The head-lock is held together by a pin (actually a bolt). Somehow, in the process of moving her head around in there, she had worked it out.

The stanchion:

The offending pin:

I said, “Beulah Petunia, would you please put your head back in there?” SO I CAN LOCK YOU UP AGAIN.

She said, “Excuse me. Excuse me.” And stepped her gigantic self backward right out of the sheep shelter and plodded her leisurely way off across the meadow bottom to take a drink from the creek. And I had no more feed to entice her with to get her back since all the feed was, of course, back at the house where it’s stored near the goat yard.

And I just stood there whimpering that I didn’t have a gallon yet. Then I took the milk bucket back to the road before running back to the gate to the first field to let the sheep out. Then running back to the gate to the road before Mr. Cotswold could come after me again.

The offending Mr. Cotswold:

(I’m sorry. He’s even more offending without his wool.)

Then I walked
to the house
up the
carrying the milk bucket.

The offending driveway:

Then I filtered it, measured it, pasteurized it and iced it down and put it in the fridge.

And went to bed.

But it was only 10:30 a.m. and I hadn’t fed the goats and carried water to everybody up here or collected eggs. Or worked on my website or made dinner or driven around to pick up the kids. Or even had breakfast.

So I had to get back up.


  1. Thunja says:

    oh dear. you poor thing. need not worry. soon you will have all the kinks worked out and you will be showing us all of your beautiful cheeses. BTW I saw a drink dispenser jug thingy with a spigot@ Sur La Table.

  2. Karen Anne says:

    You need a little red wagon to put the milk bucket in, and some way to keep it from spilling.

  3. CindyP says:


    Is the fencing going in this weekend????

    Or how about putting it into a jug for the trip back to the house?

  4. trish robichaud says:

    you need a golf cart to get around, you have such busy days i dont know where you get your energy.i know i couldnt do what you do everyday and live to tell it. have a beautiful day

  5. Rose H says:

    These ‘little’ problems make you stronger – or so they say. I’m certain as soon as you have your field sorted nearer the house milking will be so much easier for you and Beulah Petunia . For now you have my extreme admiration – you are made of strong stuff! :hug: Oh, by the way – 52 has made a great job of the stanchion. We’re all rooting for you. :heart:

  6. Sheila Z says:

    I think you know why your father left the farm as soon as he was able. This easy country living is a heck of a lot of work. At least you don’t have to pay a gym for your exercise. Carry a big stick (that’s why shepherds always carried a crook) to keep Mr Cotswold in his place. And never turn your back. A Border Collie, English Shepherd or an Aussie (or a cross of these breeds) might be a good idea too. A good dog would put Mr. big nutz in his place and help gather and move the sheep for you.

  7. NorthCountryGirl says:

    I know my life changed when I got my chickens. No more picking up and going away overnite like we used to. Someone has to be there to feed and water them and let them out. BUT, I love my girls and I’m glad to have them. Besides, I can save all that money we would have spent on hotel rooms and meals and put it to better use.

  8. Diane says:

    We all have days like this. You will get a new routine down in no time. Lifes adjustments just makes us stronger, and tired and sleepy. I would think about getting in an afternoon nap also. πŸ™‚

  9. Nancy says:

    I’m halter training my calves so I can lead them anywhere I want them to go, and they’re good about it. I have less experience than you, so take what I say cum grano salis, but it may help to have more control over Beulah when you need it. I use a rope made into a halter that goes on and off easily. What do you think, experienced dairy ladies?

  10. Connie Trippett says:

    I could not do all that you do. It is tiring enough with the dogs, cats and horses. All we do here is feed and scoop (ugh). Of course we don’t get any food back from them. lol

  11. Johanna says:

    Some days are just like that. Hope you get a better one today.

  12. carsek says:

    Keep trying. The main thing is to get SOME milk, and you may have to milk twice a day. Stay at a regular time no matter what. Don’t milk at 6 one morning and 9 the next. Start out with plenty of grain and then throw the hay when she runs out so you can keep milking. Your stanchion looks great!! A longer bolt with a nut on the other side will work better or a cotter pin to hold it in place. An upside down bucket for a stool will give you your knees to rest your elbows, but KEEP MILKING. It does take a while to get all the milk and it is a race to see who finishes first, you or her. Hang in there!

  13. Denise :) says:

    You make me smile. Thank you! πŸ™‚

  14. carsek says:

    Also, I find feeding in the stanchion for morning and evening whether you are milking or not seems to help. Then they know they aren’t going anywhere and they don’t have to compete for their share of grain. Keeping everyone else away helps, they don’t have to hurry. A pain to stand there and wait but bonding time is great. Maybe some grooming while you wait? I milk in the afternoon, easier for me to stay at a specific time than in the morning.

  15. Lori Skoog says:

    What a morning. Moving her closer to the house sounds like a great idea! Catch a nap today….

  16. mamawolf says:

    OK. I’m going back to bed now; all this early morning actvity wore me out! I don’t know how you do it all but I certainly admire you for all your accomplishments. :fairy:

  17. Mary says:

    Wow! I bet you slept well last night. This has to get better.

  18. Becky says:

    Hang in there, Suzanne!
    It’ll all get easier as you get the routines down with ALL the critters.

  19. trish says:

    My first thought was…ohh a baby donkey!!! lol Then I read the post under the first picture!!! :wave:

  20. Carol says:

    Suzanne–you need a barn. How will you milk in the rain and snow?

  21. melissa says:

    Well after all that work I hope you at least drank a glass of milk before you went back to bed.

  22. scorwin says:

    I’m tired just reading your post. It’s only 8:30 am here and I felt I had a lot to do by just feeding and medicating the house animals here. Then I have to go out to the boarding barn and catch 5 horses for the farrier who’s coming at 11:00 am! I don’t know how you do it either! But I think the main thing is to get Beulah moved up by the house. Also not trying to carry an open bucket of milk. Putting it in a jug with a lid sounds good. It will all turn into a nice routine sooner or later if you live that long : )) Yes, you have enough little herds now that you need a trained border collie or aussie to help out!

  23. I Wanna Farm says:

    Is there any way to re-grade your driveway so that it’s not so steep. Make it curvy or something? Then you could get a cart or rv and drive around when you want to.

  24. hollygee says:

    How sore are your hands? I can milk a goat, but my hands begin cramping milking a cow.

  25. Linda Goble says:

    I think you need to get one of those things they call mules like a four wheeler to haul stuff around for you. You poor thing with all that running you do. Maybe I should live on a farm. maybe I would lose weight. I hope it will get easier milking B.P.. Try to have a great day!!!!!!!!!!!!! Linda

  26. Carol says:

    Man, that farm life sure ain’t for sissies!!

  27. marymac says:

    I see a lot of stories coming in our future…..I know you can do it, if any one can you can.

  28. Cate says:

    Mama said there’d be days like this.

  29. RosieJo says:

    I love living in town with my crazy neighbors and all the traffic and convenient grocery stores, but my day’s not complete without a quick visit with you.

  30. Barbee' says:

    I really don’t know what to say. I am in awe here. You are a smart little thing; you will figure it all out and get a rhythm going. I remember Poky used to protect you from Mean Rooster, now you need someBODY to do the same with that idiot ram! Thinking about it: You have gotten a LOT done over the past week or two, what with all the shearing, collecting the cow, 52 making the stanchion, etc. I’m sure you and Beulah Petunia (love that name!) will be patient with one another until you both get it all figured out. Then it will be even more wonderful. I appreciate all the advice and supportive help you are getting from your blog friends, because, boy, I sure can’t help at all no matter how much I wish I could. I’m worried about that ***** ram jerking your back and injuring it. OK, I will take off my mother hat now. Love to you and yours. (All except Mr. Ram, he’s on my Mean List.)

  31. cgReno says:

    Finally you have burst my “I want to be a farm girl” bubble. Thank you, seriously, thank you. This is WAY to much work for a 60 something woman to begin. So I think that I will stick with dog rescue, (no milking involved)and feral cats, maybe I will still consider a couple of sheep to keep the grass down on the lower acre and have wool to spin. Keep up the great work and thank you for sharing enought for me to figure out that large animals are not in my future!

  32. Patrice says:

    My sympathy for your morning! I have had my share of days like that. Fortunately, I have no ram to cause bodily pain. :sheepjump:

  33. Tracy Jones (aka fullpantry) says:

    πŸ˜† πŸ˜† πŸ˜† Oh my goodness….that gave me a good chuckle for today!! Bless your poor little heart!! Sounds kinda like when you bring a new baby home – you are exhausted, confused, wondering how you will ever get anything done ever again, and then the kinks sorta work their way out and things settle down to a more normal life (if life with kids can ever be considered NORMAL). Hope things settle down for you soon so you can really enjoy your wonderful birthday present!

  34. catslady says:

    I’m speechless lol. :cowsleep:

  35. IowaCowgirl says:

    Ah yes, welcome to bovine-world!

  36. pdjones29 says:

    I remember trying to milk a cow on my uncle’s little farm. It isn’t easy for sure. Do you talk or sing or tell cow jokes as you milk? Or does it take so much concentration to get the milking done that you can’t talk at the same time? Maybe if you could sing a little song, it could possibly help get a rhythm going and the milking might go a little faster. Not to mention, BP (Beulah Petunia) might get a laugh out of it…….you know, something like……Suzanne McMinn had a farm, Ee i ee i oh! Too tacky huh?
    Okay…..well, maybe you can come up with a cute little ditty to help you both.

  37. Lisa says:

    Suzanne, why are you pasteurizing your milk? You don’t really need to. Check out http://www.realmilk.com for tons of great information about this. I’ve been drinking raw milk for a couple of years, with no negative effects and lots of positive ones. Prior to trying raw milk, I thought I was lactose intolerant. I’m not. I’m pasteurized intolerant! Pasteurizing destroys some of the enzymes in the milk that help you digest it. As long as you clean your cow’s udder before milking, and she has a health udder (no mastitis), you don’t need to pasteurize.

  38. lavenderblue says:

    It will get better. Notice I didn’t say ‘easier’, just better. I think Jack needs to learn to pull a wagon, one just big enough to hold a gallon or two of milk. All the way up that steep, wind-y road.
    ‘Cause it’s time to make these animals earn their keep.

  39. WKF says:

    sorry……hhahahhahahahahaaaaahhhaaaa giggle
    trying to be supportive, I can totally relate. It WILL get easier. You just have to get your Groove on!! No not that Groove, there is no time or energy for that, now!! One of those Donkey’s needs to learn to pull a cart. You’d probably have better luck with Annabelle though!!! Can you even teach a sheep to do that?

  40. Susan at Charm of the Carolines says:

    I love the name Beulah Petunia! You are so creative!!!


  41. Conny says:

    Didn’t you just know that getting a cow would be an adventure?! Sorry for the run around routine – it’ll get better – it makes a great story. Now, go and get some rest.

  42. CherShots says:

    I swear to God I just want to be adopted by you! I’ll carry your milk bucket, heck ~ I’ll even take on the chore of milking Beullah Petunia! I have limited experience but I do know how to milk a cow, feed chickens, collect eggs, pitch hay, etc.

    I absolutely love following your blog!!

  43. deborah says:

    Oh my, the learning curve is the hardest part! Keep some reserve feed in a bag with you, that way when she runs out and you haven’t finished milking you can give it to her. You’ll get the hang of it…I’m just glad she doesn’t kick.

  44. carsek says:

    On pasturization—–my sister just recently passed away (Jan.) and somewhere along the line she contracted Brucella. It was not the cause of her passing but did contribute greatly to the overall problems. She didn’t drink my milk or eat any of my cheese. We don’t know where she got it from. A projected 45 days of some pretty serious antibiotics if she had lived that long. Most Dr.s don’t know what it is and you have to go to a specialist. It is not uncommon in 3rd world countries. For me and mine–I’m pasterizing. And it gives you a longer shelf life. Such a simple thing to do to prevent a very serious health problem. Especially in the young and elderly.

  45. Angela P says:

    πŸ˜† Oh Suzanne! I feel for ya. THANK YOU for once again being soo honest. Im sure many of us newbie farmers have encountered the “perfect” farmer women. And those of us like you, I and Im sure many others have days just like this! Atleast we are honest about it. I thought I was the only one who had days like that. Go get em girlfriend! Just look at all the beauty around you, remember the city? That mean old steep driveways not so bad now is it?

  46. whaledancer says:

    I think it’s time to start reading mutton stew recipes aloud to Mr Cotswold.

  47. Amy says:

    I love the name Beulah Petunia! You are so creative!!!


  48. Taryn says:

    I agree with the pasteurization process. Cows have nasty pies. They get them on their tails when swishing while…pieing. Then, when you milk, they swish tails again, and minute amounts of pies can wind up in the milk. My sister is the Food Safety Director for Dole, and the threat of e coli from cow pies is such a big fear, they will down fields of veggies, losing thousands of dollars if a cow wanders in. I would rather be safe than sorry!https://chickensintheroad.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/feet.gif

  49. cinders says:

    Hey all
    Man I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this site. I was away from this computer stuff for a bit, but back in, and here I am. Been working the farm tho. Had to make a trip back Ohio the last of April and was gone for 2 weeks w/no puter. Oh Lordie. Will be around reading tho. This side is great.

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