Updated: Jan 30, 2020
There are pictures that you start to see when you start thinking about getting a milk cow. You see the old pictures of the milk maids sitting on their stools, cheek against the cows smiling as the milk hits the bucket.
It’s a fun picture. And it’s one I did. There was something amazingly soothing about milking a cow this way. You can sense the cow’s movements. There’s something refreshing about the only sound being the milk hitting the pail. I loved it.
But there’s something that’s missing from that picture that’s also there. There’s grabbing the bucket and moving it far out of the way because all of a sudden the cow decides it’s time to poop or pee. There’s the cow just getting antsy because you are taking a while and kicking the bucket over and you realize that the old adage, “There’s no use crying over spilled milk,” was probably in reference to THIS and not to the baby spilling the milk on the floor. This was hard earned milk…all gone. Or the time when you don’t move the bucket in time and poop or a hoof goes directly into the milk. That’s when you cry.
There’s also the cow that gets mastitis and you need to milk her 4 times a day at least. All your hands will let you do that day is milk. At that point your hands just don’t let you lift the iron skillet back off the stove to serve from because they are so sore. That’s the reality too.
But, there are many people who hand milk every day. I applaud those people and I did it until our difficult milker had mastitis and I just couldn’t anymore. It’s then that we broke down and realized that if we were supposed to have milk cows then a milker would be an immense blessing. Enter in the milking machine.
We have had a couple. The one I would recommend the most is from the Parts Department. They are little work horses and I love them more than the more expensive one that we started with. With so many to homeschool, I can milk two cows at a time with my machines versus one at a time by hand. It was worth it for us. Milk runs our farm, and it lets me milk 4 cows in about an hour and dash back down, scarf down breakfast, and get cranking on the many levels of math that I teach during the day.
So, by all means, start by hand milking. You need to know if you can do this long term. It’s not worth the expense if it’s a short term thing for you. There’s a beautiful journey in it. But there’s a beauty to growing into machine milking too.