Making Hay
Week of May 6th, 2007 | The weather was warm & sunny.

Julia with cow friend.

Julia with cow friend.

Today I went outside to do my horse chores. It was a warm, beautiful day. As I walked to the horse barn I felt a warm breeze blow across my face and I spotted the very first robin, sitting in The Climbing Tree! Right after I saw a flock of geese flying north. And then I knew it--spring was finally on its way! I started to muck out the horse stalls when Maria called my name from the milking parlor. I dropped the manure fork and ran over to the barn.

"Yeah?" I replied.

"Can you help me milk this one heifer, she keeps moving forward every time I try to hang on the unit." (A unit is a machine that farmers put on cows to milk them.)

"Sure," I answer.

Spring is what we call "Calving season," it is when all the cows and heifers give birth to a calf. A heifer becomes a cow once she gives birth, because they don't give milk until they have a calf. This heifer (Roxanne) had just given birth to a calf (that we named Rosie), so it was her first time being milked. When heifers have never been milked before, it takes a little getting used to.

Maria explained that every time she tried to hang on the milking unit Roxanne moved forward, so she wanted me to stand in front of her and try to stop her from moving forward. After many times, we still remained unsuccessful. I went to find my dad and he came over to check it out. I was expecting him to show me how it's done and have me watch. To my surprise he said:

"Just go up to her slowly, talk to her softly, scratch her in between the ears and show her you are calm. If a cow knows you are calm, it will feel calm too."

I followed my dad's instructions and to my complete surprise Roxanne stood perfectly still while Maria hung on the unit. I learned that patience is the key to success.

Happy Spring!

Your Farm Friend,
Julia Krusenbaum

Farm Fact: Cows are sedentary animals spending up to 8 hours a day chewing the cud while standing still or lying down to rest after grazing. When going to be milked, a certain cow in an established herd always leads the others with the weaker and older cattle trailing behind the group.

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