Milking a cow from start to finish in pictures.

I wanted to document a milking in pictures for you. This was easier said than done as I needed to bring in people unfamiliar with my camera (Our John and Tall Teenager) to take the actual pictures. And there is no way to set it up. Milking time is milking time! So, this post has taken three days to make. Usually I ONLY post what happened in the last 24 hours. But to get the complete story we needed a couple of reshoots. If I knew I was making a documentary I would have been sure to wear the same thing for each take but ah well. I have to work with Daisy and ignore my camera people so it took us a while.

Before I begin to milk I bring Daisy in off the field to settle in the yards by the milking parlour.  Hairy MacLairy always comes too and stations himself under the tree to wait.

The first thing I do is rinse out the bucket  and the lines with very hot water. Daisy comes to the door the minute she hears the quiet chug of the little pump. When I am ready I ring her bell and in she comes.  Cows are clumsy and being so large they are awkward in a small space so we always work quietly, doing exactly the same thing every day in the same order, so she does not get anxious and hurt herself or me. She has a tether on the wall. And her bin is full of treats – greens from the garden (she loves cabbage) and alfalfa cubes, barley and oats. Not much. Just enough for a treat and to help her get into the routine.  She can see cabbage in her feeder!  

After she is settled I clean her teats thoroughly with warm water, anything that touches the cups has to be spotless. She is on the pasture all day so she has not been very dirty so far. 

I turn the pump back on. Then attach the cups. 

The milk immediately starts to flow, at speed, down the line and audibly gushes into the bucket.  She relaxes and chomps away.

If I keep my hand on her she is quiet. When we are by ourselves I might sing to her. Porgy and Bess is her favourite score so far.  Oklahoma comes a close second.  (Both records my parents had when we were kids growing up by the sea, so I know every word of every part!!) We usually don’t get very far as the milking is over in about three minutes. 

When the milk has stopped flowing I cut the suction and take off the cups. Then her teats are annointed with an Iodine wash. It is not pretty but it is best to keep any wee bugs out of the udder.  Iodine is old fashioned but no bacteria can live in iodine.  Anyone milking cows is fastidious about hygiene. 

I untether her but often she does not notice anyway. I went to untether her last night and discovered that I had not even put the clip on her collar. She had just stood there anyway. 

Watch out for that tail! Then I slap her on her rump and tell her to go outside and she follows me out, I open the big gates again and she and Hairy Maclairy wander back out into the fields. 

So far she is averaging 33 pounds or 16 kg of milk,  each milking time.  That is 3.8 gallons or 14.5 litres. Twice a day. She gives more in the morning than the evening which is normal.

After the milking, everything is cleaned and sterilised again. It does not take long but it does need to be thorough. I portion out the milk into buckets and bottles, then I carry my share of the milk up to the house, set it to cool and go back out to feed all the animals.

The milk is divided between the calf (Bobby Blanc) , the piglets (The Shush Sisters), the pigs we are fattening (The Plonkers), the bottle fed lamb (Minty), the chickens, the cats and dogs and the house. Big Dog is the one who sits in the barn door and waits for his milk, glaring at any cats who try to jump the queue. Raw milk is a pure whole food and very good for an old dog like Big Dog so he is indulged.

You can see now why I call Daisy the Mother Ship.  She is one of the biggest cogs in the farmy wheel. This is why she gets very good care and the best fields.  She is our treasure.

Yesterday I made the long awaited cheesecake. Felicity’s Cheesecake made from our own milk. Pseu sent me this recipe a few days ago. It is in the comments section of this post. Which is a wonderful place to be by the way.  Your comments are the fuel that this blog runs on. This cheese cake is lovely, lovely, lovely. Thank you Sarah.   Here is  the original reference.  

AND also yesterday I made  Mama’s Lasagne, every lasagne is different of course and this one is made  with a layer of tangy home made ricotta mixed with home made yoghurt, rosemary and pepper. Home made noodles made with our own eggs. The sauce is made with one of the last jars of the 2011 summer sauce.   This post from last August has my basic lasagne recipe  and  some images from old Route 66 service stations if you are into that kind of thing … which I am! 

There you are. The cycle.

Good morning. The haymakers field was cut yesterday so we will be baling again this week. There is another pot of yoghurt turning on the cold concrete  floor of the cave.  Today I will start another hard cheese. I shall gather two gallons of milk from this morning and two from this afternoon and start it tonight using the yoghurt as a starter. You have a lovely day.

I have a surprise for you tomorrow. I hear Daisy calling from Pats Gate! She is early. Gotta go!


89 Comments on “Milking a cow from start to finish in pictures.

  1. Wow – that was amazing! Really enjoyed reading about the whole process. Even though the actual milking only takes 3 mins, there´s a lot of work before and after. Daisy seems to be happy with her routine. Glad the cheesecake turned out so well, and the lasagne too…now you´ve got me thinking about lunch!

  2. What a Good read today. I learned quite a bit as you shared the milking process.
    Sounds like a lot if satisfying work. The lasagne must be delicious.

    • that link is so funny!! Thank you! A week before Daisy was due to milk i went over to a friends when she was milking her cows and she showed me how to milk a cow. That was the first time I had milked a cow. I have never done this before, neither has Daisy. So we are learning together. When planning the farmy, trying to work out how the farm could feed the farm, I did over a years research and study, i still read and study a lot, though in the end we are mostly learning as we go along. Experience is a good teacher as long as you are wide awake! c

  3. I’m amazed and so pleased to see milking being done in this gentle, agreeable way. Who would ever believe that Daisy would come to the sound of a bell and stand perfectly still even when she wasn’t tethered? And she gives so much milk! Just wonderful, I found this post very soothing, as though I was there in the quiet milking parlour with you.

  4. Thank you for sharing the milking process, Celi. Very interesting! Daisy certainly plays a big role on the farm. Nice that she has good taste in music. I love Porgy and Bess too.

    I also think it so sweet that Hairy Maclairy accompanies her for milking time and waits by the tree! A true gentleman.

    Enjoy your cheesecake and lasagna!

    • Hairy Maclairy is a little gentleman,. her escort. this morning when I moved her they got separated for a minute and he called out so mournfully to her.. c

  5. This is such a cool post my friend! Learning how to milk a cow and it seems like so much fun!
    Also I can only imagine the satisfaction of eating cheesecake made from your own dairy 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  6. loved seeing the process. I am curious…how often do you need to bottle feed the calf? Was it difficult separating him from Daisy?

    • The calf is doing very well and Daisy can see him still and never gets anxious. He gets a big bottle feed twice a day, and a couple of small ones as i move him out to Mama’s day care for the day, then back into his night pen to sleep. c

  7. A lovely, gentle post this morning…I love the photos. Seeing you with Daisy, and all the wonderful things she provides for all of you is a balm for my weary soul this morning…

  8. reading this always reminds me of how devistating it was when a fmily lost their cow or goat back in the day. i have the second butter cake in the oven in les than 24 hours. obviously it has been a huge hit around here. i can imagine what it is like with fresh eggs, buttermilk and butter!

  9. What a lovely, peaceful scene you paint with the milking process. Thank you for showing us this technique; those of us in suburbia do not know anything about milking except the source of our daily milk.

    I think, just like raising children, that creating a daily schedule of events helps enforce that schedule and makes it easier to perform with full cooperation from the animal or child.

    • I agree completely. Everyone loves a routine and some calm order in their lives. it is like a trampoline to bounce up from!! morning ronnie.. c

  10. Thank-you for letting us view your milking routine.
    For your next lasagne would you like to try a recipe with alternating layers of tomato sauce, ricotta stuffing and a mozzarella layer between green lasagne sheets……….the tricoleur effect is something to behold. The green lasagne, snowy white ricotta and vibrant red sauce……..oh I nearly forgot lots and lots of torn basil.

    • fantastic, we are learning to make mozzarella from John this week!! that would look awesome.. thank you.. c

  11. Oh I forgot did the tomato and safron tart recipe arrive safely to your inbox? ………..Ihad some difficulties sending the email. e

    • Yes it did, i am so sorry i thought I had written back. Our tomatoes are ripening at the rate of knots now so soon i can make it, I also loved the way the author of that book wrote too ..beautiful food! c

  12. Thank you so very much for this post. I found it very interesting, and some how soothing. Perhaps I was one of your cows in a previous life.

    Happy day to you and the farmy.

  13. Fabulous informative post, thank you. I’m just curious – does the cabbage not give the milk a flavour/smell? Oh no, now we are hanging in suspenders until tomorrow 🙂 Laura

    • No. I cannot detect any difference. Though one day I am going to feed her garlic and see if that comes through, the garlic will be good for her! c

  14. Good morning! Wow, what a process. I loved all of the step by step pictures! I think the last time I witnessed a cow being milked was during a field trip to a creamery when I was about 7 years old. It’s fascinating! I had no idea that it went so quickly and then I also noticed that her udder still looked full when you were finished. I guess I had thought it would collapse down.

    The cheesecake and lasagna look amazing. I’m in awe of all of your hard work Cecelia! Wow!

    Have a lovely day ~ April

  15. A great documentary – you camera crew did some good work! What volume of the milk does Bobby get? Is it all from a bottle or does he get to suckle too? Sorry, I’ m a numpty in the cow department!

    • The little bobby has bottles now. He drinks a half gallon at a time twice a day. With little drinks during the daytime as I move him about or if it is very hot. He and Minty are on the same schedule. c

      • Do neither cow or calf mind not being able to do things ‘naturally’?

  16. Thanks for this nostalgic trip down memory lane for me, a dairy farmer’s daughter. Although the equipment we used was different than yours, many things remain the same such as the gentleness of the cow, the cleaning of her teats and the milking equipment, her affinity for routine, her love of music. Thank you for taking me back in time to some of my best childhood memories, those from the barn.

  17. Thank you Celi SO much for taking the time to compile ALL those pictures of your milking! It brings back very fond memories of my uncle hand milking the cows at my Grandparents farm in the 50s and 60s. Your blog is such a treasure……
    p.s. the lasagna looks delicious

  18. Thanks for today’s lesson, Celi. Like most, I had a vague idea of the milking process but not anymore. That lasagna looked fantastic! Today will be nice and cool. I hope you can enjoy it. I’ll be working the garden with my “crew”, the 2 boys that live upstairs
    Good morning!.

    • Excellent day for it! Do they bring their own tractors like marie’s crew in her Little corner of Rhode Island! Laughter.. c

  19. So cool to see the whole milking process Celi! It’s wonderful how Daisy is helping to feed the farm. We are lucky to have the goats helping us feed ourselves and the farmy here too! Your lasagna looks so good. Guess what, I made a zucchini lasagna yesterday as we have scads of zucchini coming out of the garden, and it turned out great!!! I’m always so excited when I make something that tastes good! You see, My John is a chef, and owned his own restaurant before me, so everything he makes is soooo delicious. So, I’m always very excited when I attempt something and it’s good! I’m going to try your easy butter cake next!!! Happy Monday!

  20. Wouldn’t it be nice if all animals had so much love and tender care.. imagine, cabbage, a buddy to chat with, a musical score and a gentle touch.. This post is what you’re all about c! xoxo
    ps You’ve solved my birthday cake dilemma.. I’m off to make that cheesecake:) and ricotta for appetizers!

  21. You have NO IDEA how relieved I am that the cheesecake recipe worked out for you! It looks beautifully light.

    • AND so tasty, almost delicate, I just had some with my morning coffee and as usual it is even better in the morning. Thank you so much for dropping the recipe in! c

    • Thankfully everyone is in a field now so the earth gets the poop!1 well except for the little piggies but soon they will come out too! c

  22. Brilliant – loved seeing the whole process C. Will our girl be able to produce milk indefinitely?
    Love the cheese cake and the lasagne!
    A surprise – how exciting…
    🙂 Mandy xo

  23. Love your post. We are also milking again. I didn’t have an exact date for calving but we knew she was close. My husband actually saw her water break when he came home from work and went to check on her! Heifer (yippee) born at 11:45pm Saturday! And in a few days we’ll have drinking milk again. And butter,cheese, yogurt, oh yeah! We hand milk although we have a machine but currently don’t have water in the barn. 😦 We double team with the kids and it doesn’t take long. It is harder to keep the milk clean, though. My hubby is going to look at the first possible property today! 🙂 Hope you have a great day!!!

    • I have no water in the barn either so i carry three buckets full of hot water out there before each milking. How exciting that you have a lovely new calf and a heifer is always a relief.. AND milk again.. I uncovered my bucket of fresh milk this morning and two roosters flew by in the midst of a battle and blew dust up over everything! I was a wee bit cranky and the pigs were more than happy! c

  24. There’s something just beautiful about the process. Nature at her finest, I think. And to see the milking and take it to lasagne and cheesecake is perfect. Nice and complete! Good morning indeed! Debra

  25. Now that is a cheesecake! I want to reach in and grab that piece. So cool to see and read about the milking process. And I can see why you have to separate the calf from the cow in order to milk, not only because of keeping the cow clean and tracking the milk, but also for the routine and regimen for the cow herself to give the milk…not to mention the iodine factor. So interesting and I had no idea and thanks for the education. Now I’m going to check out your lasagna recipe and the route 66 pics…I think I missed those first time around and I’d love to drive that road…love old things!

    • we had a grand time, it took us most of a week, but John likes to mosy about and we also stayed in all the old motels which was kind of most of the time.. c

  26. Aww I love how you sing to her! That shows real love and not just using her for her milk. It’s great to see 🙂 And it shows how much you care as well, since you made the routine, and she didn’t even need to be clipped in and still stayed there!

  27. Thank you so much for posting about the process. A cow would deliver way too much milk for us (with our tall teenagers grown up and gone away), but I’ve been kicking the idea of milking a goat around for awhile. I didn’t know what it would entail, how long it would take, etc. Right now, with me still working full-time it isn’t feasible. But the dream lives on. Fueled by your wonderful post. Someday, I will milk a goat — have fresh milk, make cheese,…. So many people commented about how peaceful this post is and I have to agree. Peaceful and contented. I could feel Daisy’s contentment. Just wonderful.

    • The milking and cleaning up takes about 30 minutes and because she is on pasture it really does not take that long to do the chores. Once they are milking you kind have to wait for them to tail off, then you dry them up. It looks like Daisy is going to be a strong long milker as long as we keep her good and healthy. Goats would be a good option and i adore goats cheese.. c

  28. This was so cool, c! When we had milk goats, we milked by hand (hard to justify a milker with only 3 or 4 does milking) My hands were too large to do the actual milking, so Heather and the kids (oops children) did it.

    • morning Viv, as you can imagine, I tend not to have photos of myself because it feels muddy. It kind of changes what the blog is about. But the milking is all about a kind of symbiotic relationship between the animal and her human. So I wanted to show how we worked together.. c

  29. Lve your post and reading all aboutnthe whole process. I had no idea one cow would give so much milk! Your lasagna and cheesecake look delicious!

  30. So many good thngs about this post. Daisy would probably go through her routine without you – cows are quite clever. You reminded me of the sting of a cow’s tail – eeewh in so many ways, and the memory of the smell of a dairy, sweet & lovely.

  31. Thanks for sharing the milking process. How special is it that Hairy comes along and waits for her. And done in three minutes? You can’t beat that!

  32. What a huge flow of milk – and so fast. This description takes me back to my childhood in Taranaki where I was shown how to milk the cows on my friend’s farm. It’s marvellous how many mouths that milk will feed.

  33. Fabulous blow-by-blow on the milking process. Mr. N and I milked a cow at a fair once. This is much faster than doing it by hand I imagine. And I love that you sing to her as you go. 🙂

  34. 9 years in NZ and I had yet to find out how milking is done! Hehe, thanks for educating me Celi 🙂 AND, that lasagne looks amazing.

    • Oh No! you need to get out to a dairy..not those big industrial ones though, we need to find you a nice little dairy farm! c

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