"Don't You Wish You Were Milking
in a Flat Barn?"
by: Bobby McDonald
Hopkins County has finally been blessed by a wonderful, soaking rain, this weekend (a little over 3 inches, as of early Monday morning)! "It's fallen just right and soaked into the ground to nurture and nourish our soils, just like we needed," expressed one happy farmer, as he drank coffee on Monday morning. "And, it's still coming down out there!"
"But, don't you wish you had to milk in a flat barn, this morning?" he questioned, with a grin on his face.
Most of us here in Hopkins County know immediately what he's talking about, and the majority of us have "lived" it! You know what we're talking about, those mornings when you'd wake up at 3:00 in the morning, and hear it raining outside, knowing it was going to be cold, and you had to go to the dairy barn! Duty called! You knew that you were going to get "drowned" going after cows regardless of a rain coat, and then you knew that all of the cows were going to be "sopping" wet and that by the time your rubbed up against them, you were going to be wet and nasty all morning long! So was the life of a dairy farmer, when we all milked cows in a "flat" barn, where we were up against the cows!
And, I don't know if it was just me, but on a morning like this morning, would always be when either because it hadn't rained in a while, I'd discover that I had a hole in one of my rubber boots, or as I went searching for cows in the early morning darkness with a weak-batteried flashlight, I'd invariably "step-off" in a hole somewhere and my feet would get wet! Mornings like this morning, were miserable in the dairy business, that many of us were engaged with for a number of years, in Hopkins County!
"And, of course, it was always in a pouring rain, like this morning, that you had one 'stubborn' baby calf that would just look at you, when you tried to feed it a bottle of milk," added the coffee drinking former dairyman. "You'd be standing there in the rain, while the calf was under the hutch, shivering, and knowing that it needed the warm milk that you offered, but it still would just roll it's tongue around the nipple and look at you! That's when you always questioned why on earth you ever thought you wanted to be a dairy farmer!"
And, of course, once you got back to the house, changed out of your wet clothes, took a shower, and finally got warm and dry, there would be a knock on the door that you had a cow that was having trouble calving! It would be back out into the cold, nasty, and wet weather, and you might be on your belly, in the mud, or standing behind here in a chute, to pull the calf. She never went voluntarily to the pen. She always circled the pasture at least two or three times, so that you had plenty of time to slip down once or twice, or run through the water somewhere to get her corralled. It was always a "footrace" to get her to where you could deliver the calf and then, you'd have to make certain that it was "in the dry," before you go back to the house once again!
And, it always happened, that with your sights set on getting dry and warm, once again, that's when a salesman would show up at your door, and stay for two hours, preventing you from getting that nap, to recover some of the sleep you needed. And, by the time you could eat a sandwich or some soup, it was time to go do evening chores, of putting out hay and feed, and checking on dry cows and heifers, and soon would be time to start the evening milking, where you'd be wet and miserable once again!
Yes, there is some parts of the dairy business that I truly miss, but a rainy, wet, and cold morning, like this morning, is one of those times, that I can truthfully say that I don't miss it at all, and the best sleep in the world, is when you hear it raining outside, about 3:00 in the morning, and you can "snuggle down" beneath the warm covers, and go back to sleep!
Milk for breakfast never tasted so good!