July 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 August 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 September 1998 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Friday July 24 AM HH definately less frisky with the improved feeding arranagement but far from perfect. She still threatens frequently to kick. I tried counting squirts between times when I had to stop and shift my own position or that of the bucket either because she threatened to kick or because she stepped forwards or backwards. I counted only the squirts with my right hand so the actually number of squirts is double my count. Mostly I was not able to count about 20 but once reached 89 and a couple of times got over 50. 2 gal 2cups
7/24 pm...milking not too stressful in comparison to what she sometimes does. Weather
pleasant. At Farmington Farmers Union today I ordered a device called Kickstop. It looks
like a giant C-clamp which appears to lock onto a couple of Karate points or something.
They said it wouldn't be in for 10 days.
Sat July 25 AM I long for Kickstop
to arrive. However, I find that counting squirts helps keep my mind off getting angry.
Whether I get angry or not seems not to affect either her behavior or letdown but it gives
me a headache. I read in Sci. News that somebody got around to exploring the way anger
affects men and women. Most men reported feeling better after having gotton angry whereas
most women said they felt sick. A couple of times I got up over 100 squirts but mostly did
not get past 20. The mass in her off hind quarter is almost totally resolved. At no time
was there any hesitancy about the milk going through the filter so it was not an
infection. She certainly does not have any sensitivity in that quarter as an excuse for
churning her feet around.
25pm HH the worst ever tonight. Only got 1.6 gal, 3.6 for the day. I just watched her through the binoculars paying a lot of attention to Howie. This time she may really be in heat. [To Top]
Sun July 26 About 8pm last
night I could see through the binoculars what look like heat activity, HH lurching after
Howie. At 9 I confirmed roaring heat with an effort to mount Howie. I ran out and called
her and she came galloping. I retreated inside the beefer pen where they both followed me
and I quickly shut the door locking them in, not caring to have any midnight calls
"Your cows are out". No fence is proof against a cow in heat, at least none of
mine, in case she heard an answering bellow off somewhere. I let her out at 6am to refresh
herself. She was quiet. I milked at 7 (late for me) and she behaved more normally.
Whenever she really kicked I gave my best imitation of a roaring bull which I must say
controlled her as well as any of my other devices. I feel tired and groggy today,
sniffley, and my hands are weak. These are hay fever symptoms no doubt brought on by the
bushhogging of the fields. It took me a good 45 minutes to (weakly) milk but production
was back up.
26pm Not too bad this evening although strong moral force was required. Heat period past.. Total for day 4 gal 8oz [To Top]
Jul 27am After about 3 minutes of quiet milking HH began purposeful kicking. I started milking without the rope loop but then I stood up and put it onto her. I gave her some samples of my unladylike barking yell (not exactly the Horse Whisperer - ed.)that's been working pretty well to get her attention. Her kicking is far more purposeful when I'm working on the hind quarters. I feel sure this must relate to the bruising that Henry gave her. She has formed a habit and everybody knows how hard it is to change the habit of a cow. She added to her commentary by making two big plops and urinating. I caught the urine in my handy bucket as usual. I can't remember who taught me this trick but it sure helps to keep the area more pleasant. I am not usually fast enough to catch the plops on a shovel unless I am already on my feet. But so far I have managed to scoop it out of the way before she steps in it. Towards the end of milking she as usual sort goes to sleep and is perfectly quiet the last 5 or 10 minutes. Unfortunately by then she was no longer letting down and I was forced to leave some milk behind in her resistant rear quarter and ended with only 1.7 5 gal. Maybe she'll make it up tonight. [To Top]
27pm Helen came in quietly as always. On her side right where I tend to put my head she had the imprint of having lain in a cowpat. I cleaned her up as best I could but somehow it seemed overwhelming. I sat down on my stool with my bucket and wept for about three minutes. Then I rested my foot against her leg and said 'no kicking" a few times. The moment I began milking she began kicking. I stopped and put my foot against her leg again and gave her my snarling bark. I continued to do this all through milking everytime she threatened to kick which is countless times in the nearly 35 minutes it takes me to do what should be 15 minutes of milking and am hoarse. However I guess she hates this yelling more than anything else I have attempted. I just roared and touched her leg with the back of my arm. She clearly hates yelling and puts her ears back and looks at me with horror in her eyes. She didn't let down very well either. Yelling is exhausting and gives me a headache. Maybe it will break up her kicking habit. Only 3.5 gal for the day. The task is made extra hard by not being able to move my stool around due to the uneven floor. I don't know how to approach the project of a new floor. Must think about it. Because of the stool situation and I spend a lot of my time squinched up feeling like the woman in the magician's box.
7/28AM I was a good half hour late this morning, did not leave for the barn until after 7. Then the first thing I did was plug in the circular saw and take two legs off my milking stool. This way it can perch on the stepped part of the milking area. Trying to find a place for my butt with or without the stool has been a big part of the strain of milking. I forgot to put the rope on HH and decided to try again getting along w/o it as I have tried often before. I began by milking the front quarters fairly completely. She objects far less on the front quarters at all times. However I had to start out by putting my foot against her leg and included a faint roar just to remind her. This now works better than the rope which in any case is scratchy against my face. I did not put it on at all. HH was letting down well. I moved to the hind quarters only when milk was streaming onto the floor (after about 10 minutes). She then began marching forwards and backwards and threatening constantly with both hind feet so I yelled a bit louder. A lot of the time I could manage only 4 squirts before she either moved or offered to kick. With my head against her flank I know when she is fixing to kick as soon as she does and move my arm against her leg which forestalls it but sure slows things down. This morning she began using her off hind leg to kick which is much harder to see coming. She continued to let down, did not switch her tail much, did not poop, and I ended up with a really full bucket within and inch of the top, the most milk ever. My right hand actually gave out and I had to strip one handed with my left. I gave her chin a good scratch before letting her out. One thing about cows, unlike horses they show no signs of holding a grudge. So although milking frequently devolves into an adversarial relationship this seems more based in the cow's dogged commitment to habit than anything else. 2.6 gallons! There were some tough clotty bits on the filter probably due to her finally fully letting down that off hind quarter. 28pm Maybe we have turned some sort of corner. HH not at all bad tonight. I had to start out by setting my food against her leg a few time and making a soft grumbling noise. And she tried a few tricks with her off hind foot . I reached under with my foot and set it against her leg along with more mumbling about 'how would you like to go live in the freezer?' Did not put on the rope. She marched around about as much as ever but walking not kicking and settled down to meditate sooner and let down quite well. Total for the day 4.5 gal. It sure would help if the floor were not so uneven. It is had to find a place to set the bucket down flat. [To Top]
7/29 AM This was the quietest milking ever. HH acted like a real cow. I set my foot very lightly against her leg before starting, barely touching her and whispered 'no kicking'. No rope of course. I milked the front quarters first and she scarcely moved. I was in an uncomfortable position due to H standing very close to the awkward ridge in the floor so I could not set my chopped off stool down properly. But I milked the front fully (half a bucket) with no disturbance. Then I started with an empty bucket on the rear and she continued cooperative. I still have to milk two fingered for the first 10 minutes which makes slow going but I can deal with that so long as she isn't kicking. She did as much marching back and forth as ever but no threatening. Marcia and I discussed last night how much this resembles starting a filly. So much frustration, so much crowing about progress only to be back at square one the next day. I do hope I/we are over the hump and Horrible Helen Heiferlump is ready to be a proper cow and do her namesake credit (dear old Helen Leslie). This morning a little shy of 2 gal. 7/28 PM Another reasonably quiet milking much like this morning. Exactly the same amount of milk just shy of 2 gal. Almost 4 for the day. I gave Helen lots of kisses. Blackie has sent her half grown chicks off on three own now, four of them. I think she is starting to lay again. Two roosters were fighting for her favor. She still hops in and out of the pen every day and has taught her children to do the same. They go back in the henhouse at night and are able to reach a high perch by themselves. For some days I went out every night and lifted the smallest one up. I was going to buy a single use flash camera today but most of my errands had to be abandoned because the car quit in Rumford and I had to call AAA. [To Top]
7/30 Thursday Another nice quiet milking. There was some tail switching when I started the rear quarters and at one point I put my foot against her leg and spoke quietly. The only thing that slows me down is her very frequent walking forwards and backwards. And of course the smallness of her rear teats. This morning I began by taking a whole-hand grab on them instead of the thumb and finger grip I have had to use (or else she would kick) and that's when she swished her tail. She also makes a plop halfway through milking but I caught it on the shovel mostly and pitched it out the window. It took 7 minutes for the two front quarters, virtually no change from a month ago and about 20 for the rear. She is letting down much better. The rear teats stream milk all the while I'm doing the front. I used to be able to set the bucket to catch this with Clarinda but I'm not ready to risk that with HH. 2 gal. 1 cup Remarkably good behavior considering we had company in the barn and I jumped up to chat and left her standing. H remarked upon this by making a messy plop and stepping in it when I wasn't looking and even got her tail in it a little bit so I was especially grateful for her otherwise good manners. But she didn't let down as well and I only got 1.75 gal. Total for the day 4 gal less about a cup. [To Top]
7/31 Company in the barn just as I started on the hind quarters. HH heard him long before I did and raised her tail. I caught it all on the shovel. Apart from tensing up, she stood perfectly still when Stewart came in. He needed his Havahart trap back because a skunk is getting into his grain area. It was still out in my henyard where it never caught the raccoon. Stewart chatted awhile about his daughter's wedding tomorrow. Also admired Sidney and Adelaide. Agreed two more months and they will be prime pigs. I told him I may have found some hay. I didn't feel I got all the milk this morning but 2 gallons + about a cup and a half is slightly up from yesterday. PM. Helen quiet and orderly despite visitors in the barn again. Marcia arrived as I was nearly done. H didn't lift a foot but ceased to let down. She was friendly and let Marcia pet her. Total for the day 4 gal 1 cup. [To Top]
8/1 2 gal 1 pint. HH perfect for milking of front quarters but restless for rear quarters. Did not lift a foot but walked around a lot and even bellowed. She bellowed a lot while waiting to be milked. Maybe because I was nearly a half hour late. PM. Uneventful, milked 1/2 hour early wanting to get to the lake and dinner with Harper and family. Total for day 2gal. Weather superb. [To Top]
8/2 AM Another fine day but I woke up with a raging migraine probably due to sampling all three desserts last night at camp on top of steak. It was hard to get up, harder to head to the barn. But as usually happens, I felt better after milking. HH behaved well. She had a fairly copious bloody show, the sort of thing one might see at the end of heat but heat was Sunday July 26 a week ago. PM. Production was down a pint for the day. It might be my fault. My headache left me but I felt weak and slow all day. Maybe H got tired of letting down. Dear Harper, Jennifer and Elijah were here most of the day helping me with computer stuff. 3.8 gal today. [To Top]
8/3 For the last three milkings I have been able to move straight from milking the front quarters to the back without getting up to change buckets. I can keep going fast enough to keep a foam on the milk. I still get up towards the end to change buckets because although she is not kicking she is usually marching back and forth and it is hard to safely whisk a full bucket out of the way. This morning I could in fact have stayed with the same bucket but I lost my nerve and changed when nearly done; she remained steady while I got up. To keep going like this without stopping for anything gets to be a game sort of like winning at solitaire. [To Top]
Last night I took off her halter leaving just the collar with the bell. I'll be sorry if later she gets loose when next in heat and I have to try to lead her without a halter. But she should be more comfortable. 2 gal. 6 oz PM. Tonight I did the entire milking without changing buckets even including stripping! a tad under 2 gal;. total for day 4 gal - about 1 cup or less
8/4am Another very quiet milking. I was again able to finish milking including stripping w/o shifting buckets. I did have to shift my position a number of times but nothing startling and I felt she let down satisfactorily. However I ended up with a couple of ounces under 2 gal. I suspect this is a downward trend in production due to drier grass and more flies. I might get a response to more grain or higher protein % but it would not be worth it to me. I have switched over the last few purchased between 14% and 16% Blue Seal Crunchy and Cargill Texture. She is getting 8 lb/feeding. PM. Everything fine but production sharply down. I didn't get my 2 gal this evening. Total for day 3.75 gal. [To Top]
George Weeks brought by 200 bales of pretty good hay today. It's stuff that should have been made in June but rain prevented haying so now it is stemmy. But is well made hay. It contains some second growth. I stood by the hay elevator and took off the bales and also stacked so my hands are pretty tired after milking. You can't wear gloves for this. Not a single bale broke although Stewart hurled and tipped them off the load pretty vigorously. I could tell George who was upstairs with me stacking was getting nervous.
8/7 is It's hot today. Maybe I should have turned on the fan. H marched back and forth a lot. I had to keep moving the bucket and this is difficult to do safely when it gets nearly full. At one point I slopped out about a cupful. To maintain my rhythm I sing the old round:
A farmer went walking upon his Grey mare His daughter behind him so rosy and fair.
Tra la la la, Tra la la la Tra la la la la, la la la la la
A raven cried croak and they all tumbled down The mare broke her knees and the farmer his crown
Tra la la la, etc
The mischievous raven flew laughing away And vowed he would serve them the same the next day
Tra la la la, etc.
This morning I was not able to get past the second couplet before having to move the bucket. She let down fine however, total 2 gal 2 cups counting what spilled.
I'm putting out a flake or so of the new hay after milking and Helen and Howie are eating it. The pigs are looking very good. They get lots of skim milk, slops from camp, swine feed, and I wash out their feed and water pan each feed and throw lime around. The lime has reduced the smell to near nothing. Two bantam hens are setting. Today was Grammie's birthday. I will take flowers to the cemetery later. [To Top]
8/8am Helen was bellowing loudly by 5:30 and kept it up, milling around on the north side of the barn instead of coming in. The mystery was solved at 6:30 when I went to let her in. Somehow the gate was closed so she couldn't get back to the barn. I'll have to ask Stewart if he knows how it got closed. It could not blow shut as it is not on hinges, just tied to the post with rope so must be carried open and shut. Odd. She behaved OK at milking but I only got 1.8 gal. I don't know how long she had been w/o water. For the last 4 milkings I have completed the actual milking in 20 minutes. That is gratifying. This time is unlikely to be reduced much except as her production falls. Her hind teats will always be slow during this lactation I expect as they are small. I can get a better grip than a month ago but still not a full hand grip as I can on the front ones. She definitely lets down better than a month ago and sometimes I get a slight second letdown. Beautiful Maine weather but no rain lately and the grass is slowing way down. PM It was seriously hot today. Hot weather tends to depress milk production. Company arrived in the barn during the last ten minutes of milking and H quit letting down so I don't know if she would have made up this morning's deficit. Total for the day 3.6 gal. [To Top]
8/9 I got brave and carried only one bucket to the barn this morning. H was not as quiet as sometimes and it gets difficult to shift the bucket without slopping when it is very full. She seemed to be well on the way to making up for yesterday's poor production but then she stopped letting down for some reason. Just heiferness I guess. I did get 2 gal + 1 pint. PM Quiet. Total for the day 4 gal [To Top]
8/10 AM 2 gal, HH quiet. Cows sure have sharp eyes. On her way out the barn door she paused to sniff a fledgling barn swallow which was on the floor wedged into a shadowed corner in some lumber. I would never have seen it.
I caught it and put it back up on a rafter. The barn swallows have been very agitated lately. They are bringing off their second brood. I guess this morning they must have pushed them out of the nest. I don't know how any of the babies make it past the first day on their own. I saw a cat running off with another.
Yesterday I saw that the bantam which has been sitting out near the road had 8 chicks. I took them some yogurt. They made it through until this morning. I took them clabbered milk and mash. 8/10pm Total for today 3.8 gal. At dusk I found and boxed up the bantam with new chicks. For some reason she returns to her nest at night. I put them in the cage I made for the former sets of chicks. The chicks kept popping up like popcorn and are so small they easily go through places in the cage wire. I am too busy to fix this and have shoved various objects against the weak spots in hopes of containing them. [To Top]
8/11AM H gave 2 gal 2 cups this morning, letting down smoothly. During the restive transition period which always coincides with her finishing her grain and my finishing the front teats she presented me with a large cowpie, also urinated. I caught the latter in a plastic pail and was able to remove the first contribution before she stepped back into it, what cows always do given the opportunity. It drizzled all night, mush needed rain, and new grass is coming up in the fields now they have been bushhogged. Also I am putting out a leaf of or two of new hay twice a day which they are eating. Somewhere among these occurrences lies the answer to her improved production this morning. The little free living bantam rooster is all by himself now. All his hens are setting or mothering chicks. He looked very wet and bedraggled in the rain, his elegant iridescent tail dragging on the ground. Total for the day 4 gal. [To Top]
8/12am I set the alarm for 5am so as to be able to leave for the airport at 7 to pick up Barby. It's now 6.57 so I won't quite make it. H glad to see me early but gave only 1.8 gal. The little bantam has settled down to life in a cage, her first experience of this am sure. There are 11 chicks. PM. I milked at 5:10, almost exactly a 12 hour interval, considered ideal. I got 2 gal but she did not make up the missing2 cups of this morning. Total 3.8 gal. I took the bantam chicks some yogurt as I do not have chick starter and the layer mash I'm giving them does not have enough protein for chicks. Heavy rain today on the way back from the airport and considerable at home. I still haven't found Sukey's kittens. Silly thing has them outside somewhere I know. Gary says the rooster is a Phoenix. [To Top]
8/13am 2 gal + 1 cup I believe I would have gotten more but Stewart came in to borrow grain about halfway through milking. When I got done there was still a hard mass in the off rear quarter that wouldn't give way. I'm anxious to see if she responds to the change to Nutrena (Cargill) feed I have made. I have used Blue Seal for years but there are currant news reports of undernutrition on Blue Seal admitted by the company. They say a computer error resulted in adding insufficient vitamins. Some growers have lost many chicks as a result. However there are anecdotal reports going back at least two years in which poor growth of feeder cattle and poor performance on the track is reported. My neighbor Stewart has had devastating losses of turkeys, chicks , ducklings and piglets while feeding Blue Seal. In the case of the piglets I'd be more inclined to blame poor nutrition from feeding restaurant slops as the slops I have seen have been mostly pasta and dessert with very little protein. It is down in the forties this morning and the new grass is wet, cold and fairly lush, ideal conditions to cause bloat and I'd be very worried if this were early June rather than mid August. H must have eaten a lot if the wet grass before she came in for milking. For the first time I recall she did not head straight for the water when I let her out. PM 1.9 gal [To Top]
8/15 A lovely bright morning. H gave exactly 2 gal. I had expected a bit more of a bounce in production from the new grass, perhaps the change of feed. That does not appear to be happening. On the other hand, I just checked the calendar and tomorrow she is due to be in heat and that knocks down production. Guess I'll keep her in tonight. [To Top]
8/17 The little bantam was still there this morning and it looks like all the chicks but they hop around so fast it's hard to count. Cool damp morning, H very quiet. 2 gal and about 2 cups. But I experimented again with milking one front quarter and one hind quarter together and right away she raised her tail and urinated which I caught in the bucket. For some reason, habit no doubt, having one hind and one front being milked really annoys her but I hope to get her over it because it never comes out even. Both the right side quarters run out before the left. PM I guess I may as well accept lower production. 1.6 this evening. Total for the day 3.65 gal. A new set of kittens has emerged. The mother is totally wild and hisses if I even look at her. The kittens would like to be friendly. Two are beautiful white with grey beanies. The other is tweedy looking. I hope I can tame them. I twiddled a string or the general crowd and some other older ones played.
8/18 1.9 gal. I'm reducing Helen's grain a bit since she is not responding to the feed. I gave her 3.5 scoops this morning instead of 4. PM 1.6 gal, 3.6 for the day. H was restless, acted like flies were bothering her but there weren't any. Lifted each of her back feet once and flipped with her front. Didn't let down too well either. The hens seem to be responding to the Cargill grain. More eggs.
8/19 2 gal + 1 pint. I was a half hour late milking mostly because I have nice company, Barby. HH very good, letdown just fine. I didn't see the white kittens. Laura called from Texas to tell me more about her Lily. Lily is still a heifer with an attitude. They are keeping calves on her mostly and milking only once a day bringing 3.5 quarts into the house. Lily is 3.5 months into her lactation and they have weaned one pair of calves and put a second pair on her. She has accepted them like a champ. But she still cooperates very poorly with milking.
PM. About 1.8 gal this evening, I guess 3.9 for the day. A bit better than yesterday. When I unhitched her instead of going out she turned and inspected everything in the room. I slipped around her and moved the full bucket under the shelf. I remember once old Hope tipped over a bucket of milk when sniffing it. It's a beautiful day. I'm going to stay overnight at camp and leave the animals on their own.
8/20 HH began bellowing as soon as I appeared this morning. Also she didn't let down too well although I was not late getting to the barn. There was a loud inexplicable thump in the barn about the time I moved to the hind teats. That may have slowed her down. I got about 1/2 cup less than 2 gal. PM About 1 cup less than 2 gal tonight so for the day, 4 gal less 2 cups, say 3.9 gal Nothing to report but a friendly cow. Barby watched milking for awhile.
8/21am I've been attempting at least a few squirts each time doing the near rear and the off fore teats which she objects to. I manage a few more each time before she gets antsy, and this morning I was able to finish up stripping that way which speeds things up a lot. I could tell she noticed but this morning but she accepted it. 2 gal 1 pint PM... Barby and her friend Maxine came to the barn and took flash pictures of me and Helen which may or may not account for tonight's poor production, just 1.6 gal. For the day, a bit under 4 gal.
8/22 am Helen had perfect manners this morning but she gave only 1.9 gal. Another bantam hen that has been setting in the feed room had hatched chicks this morning. I lifted her up and she was plenty mad and fluffed up the size of a soccer ball. I brought her a plate of laying mash and yogurt but at midmorning she hadn't budged. More must still be hatching. There is another bantam setting in the hayloft. I climbed up the ladder and checked under her but no chicks yet. Whenever I climb the ladder into the loft all the barn cats get an alarmed round eyed look. I guess they thought only cats could get up there. 8'22 PM Production today was only 3.5 gal. It certainly is puzzling and disappointing that she is dropping off like this. The bantam in the feed room finally let her chickies off the nest in the late afternoon and they were all eating the plate of yogurt and mash. There appear to be six chicks. The other bantam still has all her 11 and they are all striped and pretty.
8/23 am Helen's manners were excellent again this morning. She was slow to go out the door and down the ramp. We both stood gazing across the dewy morning fields now at least half green. Here and there I could make out the little dark dots of the barn cats out watching for mice. The feed room banty hasn't started to move her family. I took away the partly eaten plate of food and left the door open to encourage her. 2 gal + 1 cup which Barby and I shared while it was still warm.
8/23 PM Perfect cow again this evening. Is this getting boring? Not to me! But before I could milk I had to respond to an emergency. I could hear desperate peeping somewhere. With my monaural hearing I haven't a prayer of identifying the direction but I finally found the little sinner under the ramp. I crawled under and managed to poke it out with a stick but then it got away into the tall grass. Fifteen minutes later I finally caught it. I suppose it fell through a hole in the floor of the feed room; the hen is now out and about. When I carried it back to its mother she flew straight at me from five feet away. Knowing from of old the confused courage of bantam hens I was ready for her and fended her off with one hand while tossing the chick among its brothers and sisters with the other. The little white hen that has been setting in the hayloft hatched hers today and at midday I took them a plate of yogurt and bread crumbs. It was no mean trick carrying these up the ladder. Then this evening after milking I heard more peeping and caught a cat in the act of swiping another lone chick, maybe from the loft. I went for the cat and barely grabbed its tail and it dropped the chick. The feed room hen had settled her family for the night so I stuck it under her wing with my right hand while she pecked my left. I hope there are no new hatches immediately. Blackie is assembling a new clutch in the milking area which should entertain Helen again! 1.6 gal tonight. 3.6+ for the day.
8/24 am Everything quiet in the barn, no desperate peeping. Helen was well mannered but did not let down fully. This could be because I gave her short rations of grain. I am about to run out and don't expect to be able to go for any until tomorrow. Or it might be because the no-see-ums are out again. I was bitten on the arms. Blackie has 13 eggs in her nest now. She ought to sit down pretty quick. 1.95 gal. Blackie sat down on her nest today. I meant to remove some eggs after dark but forgot. Instead Barby and Marcia L and I went out in the dark and I boxed up the white banty in the loft. I should have tried harder to count the chicks. There was just handful after handful of them to pop into the basket with her. I put them all in the feed room. It was raining at milking time, a nice warm rain such as cows like and she didn't want to come in. I mopped her off with a towel as I wouldn't want drips in the milk. I did run to Randy's for grain so gave her a big dinner to make up for short rations this morning. She wouldn't leave down the ramp so I let her out through the beefer pen. Neighbor Stewart stopped in to see if I would agreed to pasturing a cow he wants to buy. I said yes if he will maintain the fences including new fence in the Pocket Field. Under 4 gal a bit.
8/25 am 2 gal. this morning, no problems. Light rain meant good grazing with little need to stop for a drink. Helen didn't even bother after I let her out. She's very friendly now. The white bantam with black speckles that we carried down last night had her family up and around this morning. I counted ten but some may have moved over to the other hen. I couldn't count hers. She was plumped down on top of them giving them a nap. Whitey very soon moved hers out of the feed room and into Henry's former calf room. I suppose she felt like an intruder in the feed room. I left the back door of the barn open a bit so she can move them outside if she wants to. Also removed six eggs from under Blackie. I left her 6 or 7. That's plenty. 8/25 PM I milked half an hour late because of having taken Barby to the airport. Helen didn't let down well and was a bit restless. It is raining and three of the bantam mothers are outside with their families now. The one that sat in the feed room remains there even though I've been leaving the door to it open, much against my principles.
8/26 am I was slow this morning and didn't milk until 7:30. Helen was restless, kept stepping around, even lifted her feet high enough to kick a couple of times but didn't actually kick. I gave her a grumbly look. I've left her feed at 3 scoops instead of 4 since she wasn't responding to an increase or to Cargill Textra. She quit letting down at the last. That may be why I got a bit less than 2 gal.
8/26 PM Whew! As soon as I got into the barn I could hear relentless peeping and half a dozen cats scurried from one spot where they had been listening attentively. After about five minutes of frustrating monaural listening I spied the stray chick through a crack. It was standing in a sunbeam on the ground under the barn floor. Not a chance in the world of me or anybody else catching it down there (except a cat). I wished I had the Sticky Chickie Stick Barby and I were mentally inventing, a sticky pole to catch a chick like flypaper. I had to milk with desperate peeping going on which Helen didn't like any better than I did. She stepped around a lot, raised her tail and let loose. I only got a scant 1.5 gal. of milk. All the while I was urging St. Francis to send the chick back out in the open where it did in fact go. But it emerged right next to the chicken yard so every time I was about to grab it, it went through the wire and I had to make a long detour to get another chance at it. It finally wandered off into the tall grass and I caught it. It had fallen through the feed room floor. I thought I had all holes covered with stuff but not so. 3.5 gal today
8/27 am Helen and I were greeted by peeping again this morning, I couldn't see from where. H was disturbed enough to lift her tail twice and make a cowpie which I caught entirely on the shovel, and also pee which I mostly missed because I had set the bucket too far away. After awhile the peeping ceased. I don't know if the chick found its mother or got carried off. After all that H let down pretty well. Got 2 gal. I boiled up an elegant breakfast of stale pasta and muffin mix for Sidney and Adelaide. With skim milk, they thought they were in pig heaven. The no-see-ums were insane out there this morning. But there are virtually no flies around the barn, even around the pigs. I throw lime around the pigpen any time it starts to smell. But I think the bantams are the main fly control. They circle the barn all day in a constant sweep.
8/27 PM Helen didn't show up at milking time for some reason. I called and rattled the bucket to no effect. A half hour later she wandered in from somewhere. In the meantime, the beat goes on with the chicks. In the middle of the barn floor surrounded by nervous circling cats, were the seven chicks of the hen that's been living in the feed room. The cats seem to know they shouldn't snatch chicks, or perhaps they fear a furious hen will appear. Somehow the mother of these chicks, hereinafter to be referred to as Dumb Cluck, had got underneath the barn. I suppose she had tried to lead them forth and they didn't follow. I could hear her under the floor clucking for them as they loudly peeped. I guess a hen's instinct does not extend to going in search of the chicks; they are supposed to come to her. Not knowing what else to do, I caught them and put them in a styrofoam box with some screen on top. H showed up and was a restless customer even though there was no peeping. She gave 2 gal. After I let her out I found I had underestimated the jumping ability of the chicks. They had dislodged the screen and all escaped and two were missing. Now I could hear D. Cluck under the floor making her "come and get it" call and I could see her through a crack scratching up a cloud of dust and she had one chick. Maybe there was another I couldn't see. If not, one got et. The remaining five, still in the feed room, were responding to their mother by scratching busily on the floor above her. It was pretty cute. Then they went to the corner where she has been taking them for the night and cuddled together. I put the styrofoam box over the lot, well weighted this time. So they should be safe for the night. Maybe tomorrow I can reunify the family. 4 gal today
8/28 am As I walked out in timely fashion with my buckets I was greeted by the sight of my neighbor, Stewart, bringing my cattle home, Helen Heiferlump and Howie Dingbat. He looked out of breath. The irksome pair were, of course, high as kites. We put them in the barnyard while I let out chickens and got things ready. When I was ready for Helen to come in, somehow they had vanished again. When I finally found them they were coming back across the lawn from my vegetable garden. I got Helen in OK and tied her up but Howie was very shy and it took about 15 minutes to entice him inside the barn. Of course I let out the chicks that I boxed up last night and as soon as they had enough to eat they began squeezing out of the feed room so milking was again accompanied by a chorus of peeping. H and I did our best to ignore it but the little sinners kind of closed in on us. Try to imagine assertive peeping from five fluffy things about 3" tall. H quit letting down and only gave 1.75 gal. While I was putting her into the beefer pen with Howie a cat got one chick. I threw something at the cat and it dropped the chick which dived inside a wall. I pried it out with a long stick and decided what the heck. I chucked it out into the sunshine with Whitey and her already enormous brood. Then I caught the other four, which were huddled in panic and tossed them in amongst the rest. Whitey accepted them without flinching. No signs of Dumb Cluck this morning. I then began walking fence and assessing damage to my garden. I can't find the broken fence. A lot of my Brussels sprouts got eaten though. H&H are staying locked in on hay and water for the day. 8/28 PM HH & HD are still locked up but seem contented. I was unable to find the breech in the fence but that is no doubt because the afternoon was so hot I couldn't face walking fence line. Of course as soon as I had merged her chicks onto Whitey, Dumb Cluck showed up perky as could be with the two missing chicks. If I can find both moms after dark I will put some back with D. Cluck. Poor Whitey looks overwhelmed. And neighbor Melody said there was a skunk around last night. Helen knocked over the bucket tonight. She didn't mean to. I just wasn't paying attention when she stepped forward. I lost about 2 quarts leaving 3.5 gal for the day.
8/29 am Helen and Howie both started the day bellowing to get out of the barn. I was afraid Helen would be filthy from lying in the barn all night but she was absolutely clean. But I only got 1.75 gal. Last night after dark I found Whitey and swiped a handful of her chicks and gave them to Dumb Cluck to even things out. The chicks don't seem to mind at all. Later this morning I walked the fenceline with greater care and found where they had gotten out. It was pretty much inside a lilac bush and hard to see. Luckily in my cruising I came across a good metal stake and have made a solid repair. But now they have tasted Brussels sprouts and beans no telling where they may crash in next. 8/29 PM Low production tonight, only 1.4 gal plus a pint. 3.25 + a pt for the day.
8/30 am Started the day with a thudding headache. I milked in dim early light with my eyes shut and my head pressed into Helen's bag, my hands feeling weak. By the time I finished the front quarters I had broken into a sweat and the strength returned to my hands and my headache was only a shadow. One of Blackie's four teenage children attempted to crow this morning. Such a funny noise, but Phoenix answered right away.
8/30 PM 1.75 gal, 3.75 gal total (this entry rates no bookmark! Joann must have out with the girls -ed.)
8/31 am HH had perfect manners this morning. But I only got 1.75 gal even though I was a half hour late. A beautiful day. The vet will be along later to bob Stewart's bull calf. 8/31 PM Perfect manners again, perfect weather. 1.75 gal tonight. Somebody came and wanted a kitten. They took one of Prunella's orphans. All survived, even the smallest we call Little Bit. But I've managed to give away only two. If you're in Maine, free kittens...
9/1 PM While milking it occurred to me that production might be dropping because there is something about hr water that H doesn't like. It looks clear but there is algae on the walls of the tank. I'm going to try letting the water run all night at a low flow and see if it makes a difference. Total for the day 3.5 gal
9/2 AM 1.8 gal The hose fell out of the tank at some point so my water change experiment must continue. I've put a C-clamp on it now. The pigs are full of good humored enthusiasm as pigs ought to be. I'm serving them boiled potatoes this week courtesy of Cousin Marcia. She gave me two five gal buckets full of old ones. This is a real saving on swine feed and Sidney and Adelaide like them. 9/2 PM 1.6 gal this eve. A bit under 3.5 for the day. No positive effect yet from running water in the tank but I did notice this evening that she took an extra long drink. Even though there is fairly good grass and she's been coming in with a full rumen, I put out hay and she is eating it so maybe she is hungry.
9/3 AM Production was up slightly this morning. H gave just a hair under 2 gal. And I again noticed her taking a longer drink. However it rained last night so all her grazing would have been wet. This usually gives a slight boost. Dumb Cluck now leads her small troop out of the feed room when I open the door. She has a louder more hysterical sounding cluck than the other hens. Presumably this accounts for the louder more alarmed peeping response of her chicks. It puts one in mind of Chicken Little, "The sky is falling!" Hens and chicks have a constant cluck/peep conversation at all times which serves to keep them together and sharing food finds. 9/3 PM I plugged a radio in at the milking area. HH walked in and whirled right around and ran out. But I told her it was OK, nothing to worry about, so she turned around and began eating. But she sure didn't let down very well so I still don't know if the water renewal program is doing any good. When I turned her loose she made a thorough inspection of the radio. When she began to eat the cord I pulled her on out. She does seem to be taking longer drinks. And I AM throwing down some hay whenever she shows an interest in it.
9/4 AM It rained during the night and this morning is warm and misty. Helen and Howie weren't in the barn and I discovered this was because once again the gate to the North Field was mysteriously closed. This is the third time this has happened. When they realized I'd opened the gate both HH and H ran full speed to get around to the barn. I ran to get out of their way. What with that excitement, the radio on and perhaps the fact that tomorrow she will be in heat, Helen was alert and restless all through milking. At one point she stepped so far back her feet slipped off into the gutter and I thought she might be doing a bellyflop onto me. When I got to the point of milking one each front and back teats she quit letting down. I think this is why I didn't get a full two gallons. 9/4 PM Helen was in roaring heat this evening. She wanted to stay with Howie and I had to push and shove to get her in for milking. Then she turned right around and headed back down the passageway to the beefer pen where they hang out. It's about as wide as a cattle chute. She was starting to butt he door down so I climbed over the rail and tried to back her out. Impossible, I was afraid of getting mashed, so I got the pitchfork and backed her out with that. Then she wouldn't go into her tie-up, just ignored her grain. She was circling all around, pooping and switching her tail. I got flecks of manure all over me. I finally got her clip fastened and she was quiet for milking but gave only 1 gal. + 3 pints. After I put her back in with Howie, where they will spend the night locked in, I filled their water tub and it ran over and I stepped in muck above my ankle and my clog disappeared. I fished it out and rinsed it off and went in for a shower. Dumb Cluck has mislaid another of her chicks and is down to four. I could hear it peeping for awhile under the barn, then all was silent. I suppose, like John says, to the cats they look like lunch boxes on legs. I've called AI.
9/5 AM Helen is still in heat but this morning I was prepared for her antics and got her into her tie-up more quickly. Neither she nor Howie wants grain. He had still not eaten his last night's serving. H was clean. I guess she has not been lying down much. She didn't kick even though there was plenty to make her nervous. Dumb Cluck was ranging around calling one chick that was in the milking area and MPBN was giving us Handel's Royal Fireworks Music. Howie was bellowing and H was answering, none of your smooth calf talk. These were big loud "Here I AM" bellows and she is still keeping it up an hour later with just a breath between each one. I got 1 gal + 3 pints, same as last night. I've pinned up last year's breeding slip next to her in case the technician goes straight to the barn. It feels like Fall today. There's a cold brisk wind and scudding clouds. 9/5 PM The technician arrived about 10:00 and I selected Aerostat. Nathan pointed out that this breeding is only two days off of last year's date (Sept 3). I hope it took. Heat is such a nuisance. She was still hard to get in but ate most of her grain. Production up slightly over this morning: About a cup under 1.5 gal.
9/6 AM A beautiful day. Helen was hesitant to come in but it may be the memory of having to remain tied up yesterday for AI. She didn't quite finish her grain and did a lot of stepping around but production has risen a bit: 1.75 gal this morning. 9/6 PM Helen was still reluctant to come in and did not dive into her grain. Instead she roamed all around in the milking area sniffing the radio, checking out the other three tie-ups, pulling down some ancient hay that serves as insulation to the adjacent chicken room and eating it as though she had discovered a treat. What she reminded me of was a kid stalling about going to bed. Once in her tie-up she still did not eat her grain with any enthusiasm but production is edging up. I got 1 gal + 1.5 quarts.
9/7 AM A bunch of grain had built up in Helen's feed pan because she isn't finishing it. Howie is eating his so I doubt anything is wrong with it. Anyway I removed it. There is always the possibility that the cats have defiled it. Again this morning she was hard to get in, and once in she diddled around before letting me tie her up. She gave just a shade under 2 gal. It's another soft warm misty day, perfect cow weather. The pigs are getting ever harder to feed. I have their feed basin on a chain and I haul it up every time and wash it out. I have to replace it before pouring in their feed but they have already put their muddy feet in it. Then they get in the way of pouring so it splashes on their heads. Then they shake their ears splashing skim milk all over me. They are so piggy! I can't seem to stay ahead of their bad manners. But they are friendly (towards me) and don't stink at all and there are no flies or mosquitoes. There is a huge array of giant spiderwebs above them, each with a great big spider like Charlotte. The guy wires of these webs are so strong that they don't necessarily break even when I run into them. Yipes! But I'm sort of getting used to it. 9/7 PM Helen again was very strange about coming in. She was not enthusiastic about her grain (Cargill Textra). I'm going for grain tomorrow so will try Blue Seal coarse 16% again although I still don't trust them following the scandal. I had let the layers out to forage, also son Mark arrived during milking so H was agitated. No kicking, but she raised her tail and made a big cow flop. I cooked up a big tub of stale pasta and cornmeal for the pigs. With added skim milk it was a special treat. I made a great effort to see that their basin was on a level footing so as to minimize waste. These rubber basins are really too floppy and they have taken to bending the side down and spilling dinner. Tonight Sidney snapped and wuffed at Adelaide. She was intimidated and backed off and was going to just eat spilled food. But I took a sharp stick and shoved it into Sidney's neck to hold her back from hogging everything. She appeared to have the impression that Adelaide was doing it and stopped snapping. All this is making pig feeding rather fatiguing. Only 1 gal. and 1 pint of milk tonight.
9/8 AM A misty moisty morning about 60f. Helen came in when I tempted her with a bucket of grain. She went straight into her tie-up and finished off her grain pretty well. I got a little less than 2 gal. Not so good. Sidney and Adelaide didn't fight this morning, maybe because their breakfast was less gourmet. They do give one a clear definition of "hogwash" if it means something that's a waste of time with no meaningful outcome. 9/8 PM I bought Sidney and Adelaide a galvanized tub to feed from. At least they cant bend the sides down and spill but they can tip it up. I gave them a lot of giant zucchini boiled (it's that season!) plus their hog feed and they thought it was good enough to fight over. Helen was again reluctant to come in for milking. Then when she did come in, Howie dashed in after her. This is when I appreciate that I AM always careful to have the door to the feed room and the door to the front lawn shut, no exceptions, before she comes in. As it was, I still had a time of it getting him back outside. She ate her old grain without enthusiasm and left a bit. I wonder if she settled. Howie still acts awfully interested. 1. 75 gal. 3.6 for the day.
9/9 AM Helen trotted right in this morning and gobbled her grain. I had cleaned out her pan of all old grain and started her on Blue Seal, her old favorite. She licked out her pan. I have no way of knowing if she really prefers it that much or if her appetite has returned for some other reason. Only got 1.75 gal. Sidney and Adelaide got along with each other OK. Maybe they weren't so very enthusiastic about boiled cucumber trimmings (with hog feed, of course). It's only 50f this morning. Cool Canadian air has arrived. 9/9 PM I finally found Sukey's kittens. I had it pretty well narrowed down but would never have thought to look in the place they really were. I had not even known my four foot granite front doorstep actually sits on a granite pier and there is a very small crawl space under it. It has rained most of yesterday and all of today and perhaps it got a little too damp under there and the kittens came out. I gathered them up and brought them in the house. There are four and they are exactly one month old, just toddling, and like Sukey's earlier kittens, perfect little fluffy Hallmark darlings. Helen raced right in tonight and ate every bit of her grain. Of coarse she was dripping wet so I dried her with an old bath towel. The temp was 55f all day but there was no wind so she and Howie grazed steadily. H gave 1. gal + 7 cups. Not too good. That's only about 3 gal and a quart for the day.
9/10 AM Helen raced in this morning and finished off her grain. She stood very well for milking. I've stopped trying to have the radio on as she clearly doesn't like it. I don't want it either. I so very much do not wish to hear the name 'Monica Lewinsky' spoken. The pigs were no trouble this morning. Their breakfast of zucchini and a few moldy cucumbers boiled and topped with spoiled cream seemed to suit them. I took some pictures of them. Only 1.6 gal. 9/10 PM I raced through chores so as to be back in the house before the timer went for my bread in the oven. Succeeded. All animals cooperated. H gives every evidence of preferring Blue Seal grain. 1.75 gal tonight. 3. Only 3.35 gal total
9/11 AM Helen was mooing to come in this morning and was full of enthusiasm. I got 1.9 gal. It's a beautiful autumnal day. The pigs shared their breakfast nicely. While I was washing up the buckets I glanced out and saw a pesky neighbor dog molesting my hens and chicks and cats. I yelled for Muffin (as usual asleep under the table) and we ran out. She woofed dutifully but obviously could not see the yellow dog, by now bounding towards home. 9/11 PM Stewart came to borrow grain while I was milking (I was expecting him.) Curiosity overcame Helen and she stopped letting down. I just got 1.5 gal. Perhaps she'll catch up in the morning. She looks great. So does Howie. He looks about as good as a Jersey steer can be expected to look. Total 3.4
9/12 AM Helen gave 1.9 gal this morning just as yesterday. I'm having some luck taming the kittens in the barn. There is a dark tweedy colored one, a black one and two white ones with grey beanies. One of the white ones is long haired. I can now stroke them with my finger while they are eating. I throw out cracked corn for the bantam families and Blackie's four young adults from her June clutch. Otherwise they pester the cats so much they are afraid to eat. The chickens seem to have gained moral ascendancy. 9/12 PM Very odd weather today. It feels like a thunderstorm but nothing happens. Stewart hadn't brought grain after all so Helen was on short rations. Then Stewart returned some while I was milking. H didn't stop letting down at all when he poured it in front of her. But I still got just 1.5 gal. Today's total 3.4
9/13 AM I couldn't sleep so got up about 3:30 and did leftover jobs until 6 AM. Helen was way down by the river grazing in the early sunshine but she walked straight up followed by Howie. All the animals were glad to see me early. All three families of chicks were up and scratching. I threw the pigs some hay to get them warmed up. It was 44f. Got 1.8 gal. milk. 9/13 PM A very fine day, warm and airy. Although it is Sunday, I had to go find feed for Helen having allowed myself to run out. Towle's said they had it but when I got there it was all sold, probably to Stewart who was also out. I drove around to every place in Rumford and finally found feed at Richardson's Dairy where they are milking 45 cows. The place has got geological layers of junk outside along the parking area and inside the "store" which looks more like a ravaged flea market literally piled floor to ceiling. But a lad showed up and sold me two bags of Blue Seal course 16 dairy a dollar cheaper than elsewhere. I once worked for several months at Richardson's milking cows and that diary barn and milk tank area was perfectly clean inside. Let's hope it still is. I got 1.8 gal this evening from a friendly cow. 3.6 gal total. For the first time since I've been managing my remaining seven hens, today I got seven eggs.
9/14 AM I was about 45 minutes late getting to the barn this morning, catching up on my sleep. I was mobbed by 25 chicks and three mother hens and a large number of cats. Helen didn't seem to be bothered by my tardiness but part way through milking, Stewart, who was also late, came in for hay. Helen knows his truck and was up on tiptoes and ceased letting down well before he came in the door. I could feel her bag go all hard. She knows him and likes him; it's just the way cows are. It reminds me of a toddler feeding herself; that spoon just stops in mid air if company arrives. The pigs had a sustaining breakfast. For the first time in years my bread turned out inedible. I carefully followed the instructions to start sourdough and make the bread, a three day process, and got adobe bricks. I even soaked it in hot water before giving it to them. 1.6 gal 9/14 PM Helen had a lot of loud mooing spells today for no reason I could discern. When I went to the barn to prepare for milking I discovered that Helen's nemesis, Blackie, had hatched out five chicks in a corner of the milking area and as usual acts like she owns the place. 1.6 gal. tonight. 3.2 total
9/15 AM Halfway through milking Helen gave a great whuffing moo and jumped. I couldn't see what was behind me but later figured out it was Blackie and her chicks stirring around. Helen hadn't known she was there. I guess if we can be afraid of mice and spiders, a cow can be afraid of a hen and chicks! Blackie appears to fear nothing and is quite officious. There are five chicks. I set her with seven eggs. One didn't hatch and I've no idea why she didn't show up with six chicks. Cows make this sound halfway between a moo and a bark when alarmed. Goats and deer do a similar thing. I got almost 2 gal this morning. 1.95 gal. 9/15 PM Just a bit over 1.5 gal this evening. 3.5 total
9/16 AM Another perfect bright blue day. 1.9 gal this morning from a very cooperative cow. The pigs were cheerful as usual. I've been observing a plant resembling a cucumber vine which came up just outside the pigpen. Some stray seed, no doubt. It now has runners 4 ft. long and a lot of male blossoms. I'm hoping frost will hold off until it tells me what it is. 9/16 PM Today I went for feed, all kinds. All day was perfect weather. Helen and Howie look so beautiful out in the pasture. 1.6 tonight. Total 3.5
9/17 AM Helen inadvertently stepped on my foot while I was milking. It was my right, and she stepped on it with her right front when she stepped backwards. I sure was glad to be wearing my heavy rubber clogs! Even through that it hurt quite a lot. She didn't seem to want to let down this morning. The whole job was like stripping. I got 1.75 gal. The pigs were happy with their breakfast of 50/50 skim milk and hot water with pellets. It was kind of cold this morning, 42f. 9/17 PM When I went out at 11:00 to collect eggs I saw Blackie in the poultry room with her chicks and I thought, "Just like with her last brood, she believes she belongs in here." (She is an Auracana hen, not a bantam.) When I looked for eggs at 2:00 I saw a sad sight. Two of her chicks were in the hen water pan, one drowned, the other with its head still above water and peeping. I felt so badly. I know I should always keep a board in all the water basins so that little critters that fall in will have something to climb out on, and in the others where chicks abound, I do. I gave the peeping chick back to Blackie hoping she would warm it up. She was talking to it. But a little later when I checked, she had walked off and left it and it was prostrated, very cold, but still alive. I took it in the kitchen, wrapped it in flannel and warmed two potholders in the oven and put it into a potholder sandwich. I warmed two more potholders and kept changing them. After about a half hour life seemed to surge back into it and it began peeping loudly and acted fully recovered apart from all its fluff pasted flat. I took it back out and located Blackie, distracted her with my right hand and set it down near her with my left. She ignored it but it trotted along with her. Later I looked out and saw it all fluffed out again and perfectly normal. But it seemed like I didn't get much done today. Helen was good. I got barely over 1.5 gal. 3.25 for the day.
9/18 AM Temp down to 40f this morning. I only remember one other year that frost held off this late. Usually we get a killing frost by September 6 followed by warm days that seem sad with all the flowers dead. All the animals were happy this morning and Blackie's chicks (just three) are chirpy. Helen gave 1.8 gal. Averill's brought 20 potted raspberry plants last evening. Now my work is cut out digging twenty holes! 9/18 PM No animals caused trouble today. All seem to be enjoying the glorious Fall weather. Helen's production is clearly on a downward slide. I increased her grain last week from 4 to 5 lbs. per feed and have not seen a response. Tomorrow I will cut back again. 1.5 gal this evening. 3.3 gal for the day total. I will say, milking has gotten so easy and fast it takes less time to milk than to set up and wash up.
9/19 am Another beautiful day, 44f this morning, each one seems a gift. I was late getting to the barn this morning. I wished I had my tape recorder along. Every animal was talking at me. Helen was standing at the gate mooing, a great swarm of chicks of all sizes was peeping and the two roosters crowing, cats and kittens were mewing insistently and the pigs were making their particular whiney sound, a sort of "Meeee" they do. Most people know about pigs grunting. And there is the seldom heard squeal audible in the next county. But pigs have a number of other vocalizations, in fact are quite talkative. Helen was quiet and sweet during milking. But I only got 1.6 gal. 9/19 PM A shade under 1.5 gal, 3 gal for the day. I'm off to Portland to meet daughter Sally and Grandson Rafael. [To Top]
9/20 AM We didn't get in until 12:30. It seemed like a very short night. I got the chores done before Sally and Rafe were up. It's another beautiful day, no frost, so the dahlias and morning glories are still a show. Rafe lost no time this morning in getting the lawn mower fired up. Sally admires the fine sight of Helen and Howie in the green fields; and down in the veg garden, a large crop of Brussels sprouts forming up. The fields would not be green but for the bushhogging they got in August. 1.6 gal 9/20 PM It was a perfect Fall day. Sally and Rafe tore around the fields looking at everything and bringing in trophies. Sally tried her hand at milking too. She is a goat milker of many years experience and has plenty of forearm muscle. Helen was reasonably cooperative but did a lot of stepping around and tail switching. I discovered that Muffin had snuck in to watch and this may have disturbed her more than the new milker. Dogs do make cows nervous. I took over about half way through. Got 1.6 gal. 3.2 total for the day. [To Top]
9/21 AM 60f this morning. Pretty unusual for the time of year. I took a chance and left the radio on during milking thinking perhaps Monica Lewinsky has gone out of fashion but no such luck. Helen finds radio annoying but she continued to let down. Later Sally came in to observe and that caused H to leap but she heard Sally's voice and kept letting down; she has already come to associate Sally with apples. But when I started cross milking, one front one back, her bag hardened right up. I have to keep trying to get her used to this as her quarters never come out even. I fed the pigs another big vat of cooked zucchini and tomato squish. They won't eat much raw veg. 9/21 PM Before milking I put out milk for the cats and was able to catch the beautiful white kitten I've been trying to tame. We brought it into the house. Sally joined me in the barn to milk and did the front quarters. Then she took some flash pictures while I finished. Helen leapt when the flash went and didn't let down much after that. While I fed the pigs the cows got out. It took me a long time to feed them because Sidney was being very piggy. She has her front feet in the tub and was tipping it her way and shouldering out Adelaide. I stood there with my stick into her shoulder holding her back. Meanwhile, Helen and Howie were sneaking in the back door of the barn and out the front. When I started back to the house there they were going out the driveway. Helen would have come right back when I called her but not Howie. He kicked up his heels and shot off down the road so she went with him. I yelled for Sally and Rafe, now back in the house reading magazines I guess but nobody could hear me. I discovered I actually can't yell as loud as I thought. Finally I got their attention and they ran down the road heading 'em off and turning 'em while I stood near the front gate to turn 'em in to the front yard. (Sal and Rafe are accomplished herders) H & H were pretty full of themselves once back in the yard and ran around with their heads up but I soon had them back where they belonged. I actually didn't figure out how they got out until after it was all over. [To Top]
9/22 am Very warm, 60f overnight and very foggy. Sally did part of the milking but turned the cow over to me when it got restless which I think had nothing to do with Sal. Got 1.6 gal. We caught a long haired black kitten as company for the white one which was crying. That stopped its grief but the black one seems terrified to come out of the cat carrier although we left the door open all day. They are eating OK. Sally planted a lot of the raspberries using rotten pig manure from the pile Stewart left out back of the barn. 9/22 PM It began raining about noon and has not stopped. The farm needs it. Sal and Rafe want to reinforce the pigpen. It's beginning to look as though it wouldn't hold them it they really wanted to get out. I think we will go with electric fence. 1.4 gal this evening, 3 for the day [To Top]
9/23 AM A banner day! Sally did the first half of the milking, I did the second, and Helen gave over two gallons! Two gal. plus 2 cups. I can't say if this is because of the rain - she is eating wet grass and perforce consuming extra water. Or a delayed response to the increased feed which in fact I cut back three days ago. Or it may mean she is safe in calf. There was a definite step down in production after I had her bred which is one indication of conception, ordinarily temporary. And more celebration! Son Martin is giving the farm his '80 Dodge van, full size V8. What a difference this will make. Sal and Rafe and I have ideas tumbling out of us for things we can now do with a farm vehicle. I can even take my own pigs to the butcher. And of course, go to the dump. Hurrah! 9/23 PM There is a steady cold wind out of the south west and it's going to bring frost. We've picked the tomatoes and covered a few things. If I wake up early enough I'll spray the dahlias. Son Bret researched chainsaws for me. He suggests a 36cc Husqvarna. I've ordered it. He doesn't expect me to use it myself but we'll see. Our vet had lunch with us today. Animals all healthy. Helen gave a little under 1.5 gal tonight. Total for the day 3.5 gal plus a bit. [To Top]
9/24 AM Yesterday was a one-off I guess. Only got 1.75 gal this morning. Helen seemed touchy and not in the mood to let down very well. But I did return her to four scoops of grain. We had our first frost of the year, exceptionally late. It was only down to 30f at the house but it knocked out the dahlias of course. 9/24 PM Helen kicked when I washed her udder and kicked worse when I started to milk. I knew at once she must have an injury. Right, her off front teat has a cut more than an inch long and running horizontally. It's on the inner aspect and about two thirds of the way up. It is gaping open about a half inch. It is cut cleanly through the skin exposing the fascia but not into the flesh of her teat. I went ahead and milked the other three quarters without much trouble although not surprisingly she didn't let down very well and I only got a gallon. I milked about a cupful out of the injured quarter into another container and gave it to the cats. She actually didn't seem particularly flinchy about having the teat grabbed but my hand would stick to the open wound and in between squirts when my hand peeled back, that is what hurt her. I slathered it with wheat germ oil, my sovereign remedy, and left her in her tie-up while I called Dr. Cooper to ask if he thought it needed stitches. He said he couldn't say without seeing it, but perhaps not.. We agreed it could wait until morning. So she's out for the night. 2.75 gal today. [To Top]
9/25 AM Helen came in nicely this morning but was afraid to be milked. She started kicking right away until I reminded her I was not touching the sore teat. It looks all black and crusty and of course that quarter is bursting with milk. I got a gallon and a pint from the other three. The injured quarter is her best quarter. I tried to get a few squirts from it but she lurches and windmills her legs. But there is no blood in the milk. I left her in the tie-up. If the vet is not here by 10:00 I'll try using KickStop and work on milking her out. I wish he would call. I feel distracted and forget what I mean to do next. Sally and Rafe have gone to the MOFGA fair. (Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association) 9/25 PM I did try using KickStop on Helen but it makes her lose her balance. As soon as I tried to grab the sore teat she lurched and started to fall over on me. So I gave up the attempt. She was obviously in pain but did eat some hay and apples. Dr. Cooper came around 12:45. He gave her a preliminary sedative in her tie-up. Although she was frightened of him, I succeeded in leading her outside where he tied her to the rear bumper of his truck. He wanted her out on the grass for cleanliness and because it was a bright day, far better light than would be possible in my barn. She threw herself around and went down lying on the wrong side. We had to untie her to get her up. Then he gave her the complete shot of anaesthetic and she went down correctly on her left side in about two minutes.. I was pushing her over that way. Her rope halter was tied to his rear bumper and her right hind leg was roped to a lilac bush some distance away to prevent kicking or at least to clear the field of operation. The first thing he did was insert a plastic tube into her teat to drain the milk. It poured out in a constant stream. Dr. Cooper said the wound still looked very good. It proved to be T shaped rather than just a slash. The only necrosis was at the lower edge of the T part of the tear. He had to trim off two slivers about a 32nd of an inch wide. It took quite a lot of stitches. He left the straight down part of the T open a little bit to drain. He also put on a small bandage. He gave her a penicillin shot and left me with a week's supply of tetracycline to put on her feed. Then we went into the house and ate some sandwiches. When Dr. Cooper left Helen was still not on her feet but she was up on her brisket. She got up later on and ate grass but at normal milking time was back down. Her appetite is still OK. I got her in to her tie-up with grain. I milked the three teats one handed. She was still wobbly and came so near to falling on me that I rolled out of the way on my back. I got one quart which I gave to the cats. Her bandage had fallen off so I slathered her teat with wheat germ oil. The teat drain drips continually. After I let her out she drank for about five minutes. She had not drunk all day, having refused water from a bucket. [To Top]
9/26 AM Helen trotted right in and ate her doctored grain as though nothing was wrong with her. When she let down, milk began pouring from the sewed up quarter in a stream larger than regular milking. I positioned the bucket under it and I think I would have got my usual amount of milk this morning had she not kicked over the bucket. I lost about half of it. She did it on purpose just because she thought I might be going to touch her sore teat, I guess. I yelled sharply and she settled down. My other thought was that she might be in heat. That always makes them naughty. Today would be the day she comes in heat if she is going to. Before letting her out I squirted the contents of a vitamin E capsule directly onto her injury. We watched her back outside with Howie. We saw no signs of heat. 9/26 PM All day we saw no signs of heat. Helen came in briskly and didn't kick. She was no less touchy about her sore teat but I was more careful. I suppose I got a bit over a gallon which I gave to the animals. Today I bought a chainsaw. I haven't had one for years. It's a Husqvarna 36cc. Rafe says it goes through wood like a hot knife through butter. There are many trees and branches still on the edge of the field from last winter's ice storm. He and Sally spent hours today on field clean-up. [To Top]
9/27 AM Milk production from the three operative quarters did not exceed a gallon by my estimate. I am not measuring it since it goes to the animals rather than into jars. The indwelling cannula in her stitched teat was gone. Probably it had not been missing long as that quarter was essentially empty. I did not insert one of the temporary drains the vet left. These remain in place through only one milking. I will need somebody to hold up her tail to immobilize her when I insert it as she is still violently opposed to having me get near her sore teat. Before daybreak we had an electrical storm followed by steady rain. But it is very warm. 9/27 PM Sally held up Helen's tail so I could work on her teat. She had her head down eating grain and when I took hold of the end of her teat to clean it she did not object. I had to insert a temporary drain and was a bit clumsy but with her tail held high to immobilize her it wasn't too difficult. Milk immediately began pouring out. She stood fairly well for the remainder of milking although is clearly warning me not to touch her sore teat. I put vitamin E and also wheat germ oil on it to aid healing. It is beginning to look less angry. I removed the drain before turning her loose. I think I got over a gallon including what pours out via the drain. [To Top]
9/28 AM Sally again held up Helen's tail so I could wash her sore teat and insert the cannula. I doubt I could do it alone. It's an amazing sight to see the milk gush out. But she is not much in the mood to let down and I could tell considerable milk was left behind. I got 1 gal. 2 cups. I accidentally let her out before putting vitamin E on the wound however it looks pretty good. Something came in the night, probably the raccoon, and swiped half of Lil Red's family. She had 10 chicks and now she has five. She herself was not to be seen until about 8am. She must have been hiding. Phoenix, her husband, took over the babysitting during her absence. He looked worried and just kept milling around with them. 9/28 PM Helen still kicks instantly and purposefully at the least touch to her sore teat. But it looks healthy and isn't swollen. I can't believe it hurts that much now. I got a gallon and a half tonight. It helps to massage down her bag while the cannula is in place. I put the vitamin E on her stitches this time. Lil Red roosted high up in the barn tonight but three of her chicks couldn't make it. After dark Rafe and I lifted them up. We also put Dumb Cluck into a cat carrier. She fought vigorously against this outrage. I have a rotten cold. Rafe and Sally have has them but they are recovering. 1.5 gal tonight. [To Top]
9/29 AM Sally helped out again this morning with holding up the tail and did about half the milking. The injury looks pretty good. We got a little shy of 1.5 gal. It's down to 38f this morning, bright sun, and the mountains are assuming their Fall quilt of glorious color. I don't think we lost any poultry last night. One of my barn cats has had a severe injury. It is the one I call Fritzi. She is the only really friendly one out there. She drags herself around like she has a broken back but there is nothing you can see. I see to it she gets food. I realized when I let out Dumb Cluck this morning that the cat carrier in which she spent the night has an old sweater that cats had been sleeping on. No wonder she didn't like it. 9/29 PM I feel really sick but everything went OK at chores. Sally helped. I got about 1 gal 1 quart. All the bantam families managed to climb up high. Nothing is too high for a raccoon but perhaps it helps. [To Top]
9/30 AM This morning I was able to insert the cannula without Helen's tail being raised to immobilize her. H started waving her feet but I said "No!" and she settled down. I know I am not hurting her, it is just residual touchiness. Sally and I shared the milking. We got a generous 1.5 gallons. It's another fine sunny colorful day. My cold has gone into a bronchial cough though, so I'm way under par. I don't think we lost any poultry last night. I've tossed out all the kittens from the kitchen except two. They were getting too rambunctious. They are adorably cute but nobody is stopping to take them to new homes. 9/30 PM Helen was no fun this evening. Sally had to hold up her tail for quite awhile so I could insert the cannula as she was kicking determinedly. Sally began the milking and H kicked over the bucket on purpose. I held up the tail until Sal completed the front quarters which means milking the right front while massaging the left front quarter to encourage the milk to pour out through the cannula. This is very successful on the whole. I gave the last dose of tetracycline tonight, then called the vet; he feels we can safely discontinue it. The wound looks fine. Sally and I are both more or less crawling around with our colds. A little under a gal. tonight due to loss. [To Top]