Today I milked a cow. Not just any cow, but my cow. My precious Jersey heifer that I convinced farmer-hubby to buy for me almost 3 years ago. My dream was to have a family milk cow, and today I actually saw that dream becoming a reality. This dream has not happened easily nor has it happened without disappointment and frustration. I guess anything worth working on or toward always has its ups and downs. And you learn from it all, and in the end, you become stronger and you learn about yourself and the world around you in the process. I took on this whole adventure very naively. I think that was probably best, in hind sight. Knowing everything I know now, I don't think I would have jumped into it so blindly. But here I am, on the other side (almost) and I am proud.
First and foremost, I am proud of Sweetums. Her mothering instincts are beautiful to watch. She keeps her baby boy, BitterSweet, near her at all times. She lets him run and wander, but she always has her eye on him and will mrrr lowly to get his attention that she is ready to walk. She stands perfectly still now when he nurses and she will glance back at him while he eats, the way a human Mama looks down at her baby while they eat. She licks his face and back when he is done eating, to get all the extra milk off that has splattered on his soft brown fur.
When we milked her for the first time, she stood perfectly still for us too. She trusts us. Why wouldn't she? We are her family since she was only 7 days old. I thought milking would be hard to do, but really it is one of those things that you just have to try. I will be totally honest here: I didn't even want to try. I wanted to back away and let farmer-hubby do it all. I wanted to take pictures of the kids trying. I wanted to watch. But it was time for me to face the music, and so with farmer-hubby by my side (and daughter over my shoulder), I reached under her, and did what I was told: "Pull and squeeze!" And when she didn't kick me, I decided that I could do this. There was lots of bucket adjusting and lots of break-taking (the arms really get a work out) but we all stuck with it. They say that you should wait about 4 days after the baby is born before drinking the milk, so we didn't drink what we had in the bucket. But it was pretty to look at. Not bright white, but more of a golden white color. And yes, there was some debris in it that needed to be strained out, flecks of dirt and hay and a few hairs. But I'm not worried about all that. I'm thinking about how unbelievable it is that we are even at this point in the process.
A lot of my friends and readers are asking about the birth of the calf, and I am working on that story. That is why this is part 3 of 3...this is the bittersweet ending.