Friday, July 13, 2012

The Dairymaid Diaries: Back Massages and Test Results

   Mattie and I have finally figured this dance out and we've gone from a crazy Scottish jig on day #1 and #2, to an English waltz this past week. Milking time is absolutely *wonderful* these days!! Since Sunday evening, every milking has gone without one single hitch. I halter Mattie, swing her lead rope over her neck so it's out of the way and let her walk herself to the milking stall whilst I tie the gate closed and gather a couple things for milking. Mattie is already chowing down on her grain and once she starts inhaling food, that ol' girl won't move even if a hurricane blows through. I've finally figured the milking machine out and am comfortable with it. I'm learning those subtle noises of the vacuum pump and pulsator that mean that a quarter is empty, and I can milk Mattie out in 4 minutes with this marvelous contraption.

  I made the change on Monday night, and am now milking the bovine twice a day. Three days later she's gone up to 3 gallons a day. Hoping she'll go up a bit more! After milking, Mattie has a funny routine: she seeks out Peaches and gives that little heifer a regular bath. I milk the goats to the loud noise of a tongue lick, lick, licking hide and hair. Peaches loves it and closes her eyes in bliss; delighted to have another cow companion. 

   When Mattie was first dropped off, her previous owners mentioned that concrete seemed to bother Mattie, as she would stretch awkwardly during milking while standing in their milking area that was floored with cement. I made a mental note of this and was glad that Mattie would now be standing on rubber, since that's what is on the floor of my milking room. But as I've watched her during milking, I've noticed that she does it here too. When I untie her and prepare to lead her back to the pasture, she stops and bends and twists her back, as though she was a little old lady trying to get a crick out of her back. I watched her more, and began noticing that she would do it after grazing for a long stretch of time, or after eating hay with her head low to the ground. It also seemed that whatever it was, it was affecting her breathing when she laid down to chew her cud. She would inhale shallowly, as though it hurt to take a deep breath, and then would exhale heavily as if she had just come in from a run.  Hmmm. Today I gave her a back massage and tried to pinpoint what the problem was. after just a couple minutes of working along the sides of her spine, I found it: Roughly eight inches from her shoulder blades, along the thoracic vertebrae, there was a slight swelling that was tender to the touch. You really couldn't tell at all that there was a swollen part unless you were looking hard for it. I gently worked the muscles in and around the spot and then heard a pop and a crack from the area. The cow sighed at this and totally relaxed. Bingo. So now part of my day is being devoted to massage therapy on a cow. ;) But I figure it's the least I can do, seeing as there are six gallons of milk in my fridge, a big can of ice cream from her milk, and soon there will be cheese, yogurt, butter, kefir (one of these days I'm going to get brave and try it!), and perhaps someday, beef. She deserves the back rub and that's the truth.

Bovine back rubs aside, when I first got Mattie, I was told that she had been bred but the pregnancy test results weren't in yet. I had my fingers crossed that she was indeed preggo as the bull is a seriously nice, A2/A2 hunk. If she was pregnant, then the calf would also be A2/A2 which would make it quite valuable whether I kept it or sold it. So I waited, and waited, and tried not to think about it. Then an email came today from the previous owners, and attached to the email were the test results...

Mattie is confirmed pregnant and due around February 21st!!!! Hoof stomps and goat bleats, this farm girl is tickled!!


gz said...

good news all round!

I've tried kefir, made by a friend, and it is good for you..but I had to mask the flavour with jam!! I must admit I'm not a fan of any yoghourt, but I do like the beneficial effects!!

oukay said...

Exciting news!
I had a dachshund who adored back massages. He would lean into the pressure and would groan in a contented way!
I'm glad that Peaches is getting so much positive attention from Mattie now.

nancy said...

I have given both my old dogs regular massages, and they loved it! No one likes hurting. Congrats, you're going to be a mom! And licking Peaches, I about fell out of my chair- too funny! Maybe the milking brings out her maternal side? Take a pic when you can, I'd love to see that!!!