Tag Archives: milking

In that Pint of Milk

In that pint of milk is the ponderings of a Dairy farmer. Where will the cows go next? That field might be a bit wet after the recent rain, best put them in the High Field for now.

There is the watchful eye on protein and fat content, is there enough, is it good enough?

Behind that Pint of Milk are reams of paperwork, waiting for the farmer’s wife’s attention. Incomings and outgoings, all to be put in order, as soon as you can.

In that creamy milk is the call from the boys for the creamy bit, the nightly hot chocolate, the pour at breakfast, the sour milk for tomorrow’s bread, the icecream on a Sunday.

The farmer wipes the cow’s udder, places on the cluster, rubs a pap and the milk flows as the cow feeds on some ration. A gentle squeeze on an empty pap, cleaning, some dip, she feels the tap on her leg by the farmer’s hand, telling her to move on. Her milk moves through the dairy pipework into the bulk tank, to the tock, tock, tock of the machine awaiting collection. She saunters into the yard and towards the field again.

Back into year’s green green grass. Grass that brings on her creamy milk for that evening’s milking.

All in that pint of milk.

A Gift

There are few days as beautiful as a sunny Sunday morning in April. If you rise early enough you catch it before the house builds up to its usual crescendo of activity. For now, it is still, sunny, wakening, calm. From my coffee perch, I hear a cow bellow, the birds twittering over green fields, the farmer getting the parlour ready for milking. The gate closes for the cows arrival, there is the familiar drop of buckets on the dairy floor.

The cows wait outside the parlour for their turn to bring us their milk. The milk tank will fill with their bounty and as they wander from the parlour out to the gorgeous green grass that April has brought here, the milk will be collected.  It’s off to its destination, a fridge away from here, filling another little boy’s breakfast bowl we tell them.

Here is the gift of another beautiful Sunday in April, fresh milk for our pancakes, growth in the  fields and good health for the family and animals in our care. No better gift.

Have a lovely Sunday.

Do you come here often?

You have some hope of wooing a farmer (or avoiding one) if you are a country girl but little if your reference for all things country is the memory of Glenroe of a Sunday night. We thought ye were funny you country folk, a bit gray and crusty looking but oh so quaint. Look where that train of thought got me; right into the milking parlour.

So, picture it. You’re trying to impress him. And you’re a high pitched city girl telling him that everything is so funny and cute and horrified and amazed at the same time that the cows are lifting their tails and he is oh so brave and amazing that he instinctively knows when to shift away from that shower of cow dung. Dreamy.

Little did that farmer’s wife in waiting know that inwardly he was wishing me out of the parlour because I had the poor cows nervous and raising-the-tail-ish. The poor girls. There’s oohing and aahing at the sound of the machine, the sight of the milk buckets, the clusters, even the dip. Swoon, the milking apron. Aw, the calf house, the straw, the ration trough. Ouch the calving jack.

Cringing at the memory of me a wide eyed city girl walking into a milking parlour to keep him company. Wishing myself in hindsight out from under his feet. You, in your flowery wellies, he’ll say, well you knew what you were letting yourself in for. Well Holy God, how could I have known? He had me at ‘Let the cows out.’

Yours in mucky love.

There’s more on love and farming in Hearthill in this week’s Irish Country Living …. http://www.farmersjournal.ie/views-on-farming-at-valentine-s-from-a-city-girl-174774/


Only a few more cows left to calve telling me that soon it will be my turn. I feel a lot of empathy with my heavily expectant counterparts; the slow and laboured march to the water trough and the constant grazing. Like their own calves, my two little boys are full of teaspach (a local term used to describe the exuberance and spirit of young calves when new straw is scattered around them or on hearing the familiar splash of creamy milk reaching their bucket, a wholly bucking, jumping, break dancing show).

Teaspach to the heavily expectant mother is the most challenging. While one doesn’t want to break their spirit, a mother has to use up some of the battery life on some exercise that ensures everyone in the farmhouse gets a full-nights sleep. I find living on a farm helps; obviously, there are safety concerns that young cowboys have to adhere to but the farm is a veritable childhood obstacle course designed (in my mind) to help the farming mother harness some of that exuberance.

There is no shortage of adventures. Provided with a knapsack that includes a biscuit, toilet roll binoculars and a fascination for any insect/rodent/small animal or bird that moves; little boys can safely tour the perimeter of an adjacent field in full view of their mother. And every little find provides a relay back to the same mother to show their findings or perhaps a little kiss for a nettle sting. Spirit in tact, they wander back on their expedition.

Bringing the cows in for milking is another luxury in the world of heavily expectant mommying. There are few calls as welcome to a mother who has just prepared the dinner and washed up as ‘Boys, do you want to bring the cows in for milking?’ Oh yes they do! Suitably attired they walk out the door behind their father as I flick on the kettle for my real cup of tea; the ‘cows come home’ cup. An utterly bovine experience that allows me to sit for a moment while my ladies in waiting chew the cud outside the window in harmony.