Monday, October 1, 2012

Milk Stools


For every job there are different tools one needs. It is fascinating to see the way builders’ piece things together based on the blue prints they drew and the expectations of their client. When I think of particular tools needed, my mind takes me to the old milking barn. We’ve had a milk cow as long as I can remember. My mom always called them “bossy” and my dad would call them “queen” but they’d let us kids come up with real names for them. At one point, each of the cows had names that related to a candy bar. We had a beautiful Brown Swiss named Milkyway, she gave the creamiest milk. Twix looked a lot like Milky Way but had a much poorer attitude.  One yellow cow was always in a bad disposition, Butterfinger was her name. I could go on naming them but that’s rather irrelevant.
The first tool that really is necessary for cow milking is a stanchion. This is what a cow sticks her head into. The person milking closes it so that she’s essentially stuck there this way she won’t go anywhere once you’re under her. She’ll stay the calmest if you give her some cubes on the other side so that she has something to keep her mind on the food and off of what is going on with her…anyway. There was a time that we didn’t have a stanchion. We’d tie the cows up with a rope and the nightly rodeo would begin. Needless to say, we were all thankful when we got a sturdy head catch.
The next important tool needed, we called “kickers.” Hobbles are the real name for the devices. They usually hook from one back leg of the cow to the other back leg with a short chain in the middle. This way the cow won’t kick you when you’re milking her and she’ll also be prevented from putting her foot in the bucket.

Finally, milking the cow is much easier if you have something to sit on. Sitting on a bucket or something with that wide of a base makes moving fast hard. Thus, if for some reason the cow is able to kick, you’ll be stuck there, unable to jump fast and get out of the way. The best fix for this is a sturdy milking stool. They’re real simple to make, in fact my brother built the ones we used. Just about a foot of a wooden post with a small board attached to the top, this way you can get up fast and won’t get kicked around. 
What do milk cow stanchions, hobbles or stools have to do with anything other than dairy cattle? Well I’m here to tell ya each of us have a milk stool in our life. We have certain tools that make life easier. One tool that I always try to keep handy is a positive attitude. When I wake up in the morning I have the choice to be excited for the day and instantly take it on with a winning approach. Sometimes this isn’t the case and the first thing I do is let negative thoughts of having to roll out of bed or the long list of “to do’s” for the day, cloud my thoughts. When we choose a positive outlook, we’re taking all of the preventative measures to keep on the sunny side. A positive attitude is my milking stool. What’s yours?

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