Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ice Milk

Clara loves having her muzzle scratched after milking.
She always gets either an apple or an animal cracker when she is done.
She is particularly fond of eating the cow animal crackers.

Today we reached a high of 18-degrees with a wind chill of -5-degrees. Yeppers, it is nearly a spring day! Not.

This is a very challenging time on the farm because we have to make sure every critter has access to dry bedding (fun when there is 18-inches of snow with another 2-inches of ice and frozen rain on top), water, and feed. Don has hauled more than his share of hay as the hay stall is now empty and we are moving it bale-by-bale to the barn until we can get the next load of hay moved from below the mountain. We don't want to move hay twice in this weather, so taking it bale-by-bale isn't as hard as moving 100 bales in the wind, snow, rain, and ice.

And, to keep things even more challenging, let's not forget the pygmy tramps who got out in July and August and were bred. We are checking several times a day to make sure we don't have frozen babies. They both have a history of kidding in the coldest possible weather. During the last kidding Mary had a problem and we lost one kid and nearly lost the second. The upshot was a wild ride in ice and snow in the Suburu Forester "ambulance" -- Don driving while I held the doe in the cargo area, trying to keep her calm and alive. While the does have access to their stalls, which are hay-filled, the wind chill is dangerous for babies.

However, the best (can you sense the sarcasm?) part of winter farm life has to be milking. One doe is dry; however, the other two does are not. I am still getting nearly a gallon a day from them. I have tried to dry them up , but they are not co-operative. To accomplish this, one must reduce the amount of grain in proportion to the amount of milk left in the does' bags. We have tried twice to get the gals to start the drying up process, but they are prolific milkers. Thus, I am milking and watching the steam rise as I do so. Instead of taking my milking pail packed in ice these days, I am simply burying it in the snow outside the milking parlor. And, to keep the gals happy, I am mixing udder wash every day with the hottest water possible, carrying it to the barn, and getting them scrubbed and milked before the wash freezes.

Oh, yes, make no mistake. Winter farming is not for the faint of heart. But, you know, I would rather be doing this than living in town any day!


  1. I read on the Pioneer Woman's blog what ranching is like in subzero weather.

    I'm kinda' glad I just raise a cat. :)

  2. So Matty, this may sound creepy, but reading that makes me want to hug you and thank you for caring so sweetly for God's creatures :) OK, 'nough mushy stuff (I think my HRT patch may need upping lol).

    It sounds like an amazing and wild life, dear friend and one that we should all be blessed enough to enjoy, but while we can't it is so much fun to read your blog and dream :) and then go run to the grocery store and buy a gallon of milk and dry dog food ;)

    Hugs, Matty girl

  3. Yikes! A rough winter for me is having to trudge in below zero weather out to my birdfeeders to add seed for my feathered friends. Otherwise, they pretty much care for themselves. Yes, I am definitely a townie - but I do love reading about the country life.

    Give Clara a scratch for me!


Thanks for dropping in on the farm today! I enjoy your comments!