Monday, September 22, 2008

Another poll - Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style

You bought a Jersey cow about five months ago, and you've been hand milking her every day since. She's developed a persistent case of mastitis that neither veterinary nor homeopathic medicine has cured. Usable milk production is at about three quarts (liters) per day and falling.

Over the past two weeks or so, you've noticed a steady increase in pain and numbness in your right hand and arm: the dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome. It's making milking a bit harder. It's making your day job working with computers harder as well.

Your cow may or may not have been successfully bred yet, but at best you've got at least seven months between now and a new baby calf (and the new milk supply that comes with it).

Winter is coming. You'll be needing to buy hay soon. In the background, you hear loud creaking, cracking, and crunching sounds as the economy teeters on the edge of the abyss.


[ Don't forget to vote in the previous poll as well... ]


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At 9/22/2008 3:15 PM, Blogger homebrewlibrarian said...

While I didn't vote in the poll, I have to wonder if perhaps it's time to find someone else to milk. Seems to be a link between mastitis and CTS that might only be solved if someone with smaller/gentler/different hands did the milking. Somewhere back in the bottom drawer of my memory files, I remember reading something about a similar situation (except back problems, not CTS were the human issue). Once the person doing the milking changed, the mastitis (and the back problems) healed up.

I realize there are only two adults in your household and your children are too young yet but maybe you can start teaching the oldest the basics of milking. But that doesn't necessarily do much right now for you or the cow. Is it possible to rent milking equipment temporarily? Got any younger extended family members you could take in as farm help? What about older neighbor kids needing work? Have you asked around at the feed store (or other community gathering place) for suggestions? Any Amish that you might consult?

My suggestion is to exhaust the less expensive options first before buying a calf or milking equipment. Even paying someone to do the milking would be preferable than additional purchases. Hang in there!

Kerri in AK

At 9/22/2008 8:36 PM, Blogger e4 said...

Kerri - Believe me, I wish we could get somebody to do the milking for us. Lori's got carpal tunnel much worse than me - though not from milking. She was helping me out early on, but it really aggravated it.

As for anybody else, we haven't even been able to get anybody to cover for us for a weekend so we can go out of town, much less do it every day!

Our nearest relatives are 30 miles and our next nearest are 150 miles. The neighbor kids aren't up for taking care of their own animals, much less ours. The nearest Amish community is about 25 miles away. Despite the prevalence of 4H around here, I have a hard time finding anyone near us who doesn't think we're a bit loony to be hand milking a cow. The drawback of living in big ag country I guess.

At 9/23/2008 8:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Is there any way to contact the 4H folks and find out about how they would go about getting a reasonably priced portable milker? I know they use them at fair time in the dairy barn, and I know that farmers and especially 4Hers, are cheap folks. So maybe you could find someone who has one just gathering dust in their shed, and needs a few bucks. Tapping into that crowd might lead you to a solution. (I know you don't have much free time though). However, having said that....if it were me, I'd just find the cow a new home, maybe with someone in the raw milk community (local Weston Price folks?). I grew up on a dairy farm and pretty much have come to the conclusion that cows are a huge hassle, for something--milk--that really, none of us needs for health and wellness (except for the baby cows).


At 9/23/2008 9:01 AM, Blogger e4 said...

Thanks Jill. I've contacted the local county extension agent - they work closely with 4H, at least around here. (I assume everywhere?) Anyway, I'm waiting to hear back from them. I have 4H neighbors too, so I'll see if they can put me in contact with anybody.

As for selling the cow, well, that's one place we might end up. I just think that small-scale pastured dairy animals (along with pastured laying hens) is one of the more environmentally responsible ways of getting healthy food. I'm not going to be out marching in any Weston A. Price parades or anything. It's just something that makes sense to me.

Then again, I feel like I have to do *something* with this barn and these fences to justify paying for them. So maybe I've developed a bias...

Thanks for the suggestions.

At 8/14/2010 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I vote none of the above? Cows provide WAY more milk than a single family needs, eats more and requires more care than... erm, goats.

I just bred ours for the first time, the babies were born a week ago, and in two weeks, we start weaning/milking. Why again did you get rid of goats? And did I mention miniatures (Nigerians, particularly) are very nice, and excellent milkers?



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