Posts Tagged ‘milking’

Un dia en la finca

Often rising at 4:30AM, not because I have to, but so I have time to prepare my days breakfast and lunch, and more importantly, to clean up after myself so as to prevent the colonization of ants and fruit flies. My previous home-stay family taught me well in the art of Zip-locking, double wrapping, and always doing the dishes…because if you don’t – the ants march in procession.

The sun rises just before 6 so I have ample light to work with the animals

Lately, I’ve been making my way to the chicken pen at 6AM, just as the sun gives passing to the darkness of night. Greeted by the crow of both roosters, the peep of new born chicks, and the growl of setting hens, I proceed to clean all dishes and give everyone new feed and water.

At the chicken coop first thing in the AM

On to milk Shelby and Milagra (Miracle), two female goats. Shelby goes first and makes her way right towards the food! I have her food ready so I can start milking. Tom, one of the farm cats, eagerly waits for some warm goat milk. The first three squeezes from each tit go to the cat, not because she perhs and rubs up against you all cat-like, but because the first milk is exposed to the air and thus subject to bacterial growth. Shelby takes under ten minutes, and Milagra, a third of that time, yielding approximately a one-gallon sum of milk.

Tom anxiously looks on...

Shelby has a pretty good view from her pasture...

Next up are the baby goats. We have four of them and they like to be tied up in new locations every day to eat new grass. They can be a little stubborn when it comes to herding them out of their pen and into the pastures, but they waste no time when it comes to eating – their only daily undertaking.

The babies cry for their mom every morning... baaahh baahh!

and the tug-a-war ensues...

Now I have to clean up the goat pens, feed the pig, and wrap everything up. I shovel up and store the goat droppings for composting and soil enrichment. Before washing and scrubbing the goat pens with water and broom, I feed the pig so she doesn’t drink the water as I spray down the goats pen.

She eats anything but onions, garlic, ginger, coffee grind, and red peppers

Cleaning "The Pit"

Once everything is clean and put away, I wash up – with Clorox soap – and make my way to milk the cows with Magel. There are three cows to milk now as two recently had a baby each. We milk two at a time; Magel milks one and I milk the other.  The milk begins to flow! The third cow is left up to Magel because she’s a little aggressive, standing nigh six feet tall – with horns! (see her in the background of the following picture). 

The Jersey cow

Now the actual work-day begins – and it’s about 9AM. I do this everyday, even on my day off because it’s something I really enjoy doing. After about 9am, Magel and I care for the farm accordingly, whether we’re cutting up fallen banana trees, fixing fences, shoveling ditches, repairing gates, maintaining pasture trails, cutting grass, or a myriad other odd ends and jobs. We finish by 3pm with much of the day still at our disposal! 5:30pm marks the reverse of my morning routine when I bring in the animals for the night.

Friday is usually my day off and Saturday is a whole different ball game. Saturday is a Mavin-day – which deserves a new blog entry all unto itself…

Until next week…


Day 3: Milked Ma First Cow

That was probably the most exciting part of the day; I’ve never milked an animal before and it’s difficult business! I know it’s all glamorized on television but it takes a lot more skill than just squeezing a tit! Forefinger and thumb clasp the milk in the tit followed by a successive squeeze from your following fingers. I was slow as molasses, while Marvin on the other side was shootin’ milk out like torpedoes! Not sure how many times I hit my shoe instead of the milk bucket…

As for the rest of the day, we continued repairing the barbed wire fence. Lots of digging, pounding soil, and trying to make out what my two Spanish co-workers were saying.

What’s really interesting is how we have a living fence line. Many of the fence posts are actually trees, and their subsequent new limbs become fence posts for future use. The soil and environment is so rich and nourishing almost anything grows if you just stick it in the ground. That being said, what’s of more interest is how crops and fence posts are affected by the lunar cycle. I believe it’s the three days prior to a full moon and the following twelve days which yield optimal growing conditions. I’m not sure why but Natalie (the farm owner) mentioned the moons gravitational influence may be stronger as we are so close to the equator and that might play a role in promoting growth on cyclic intervals.

Pictures to come!