“How extraordinary,” I thought as I watched the wind gusts swing the backing gate across the dairy shed yard. Now, this gate is not a light one by any means and yet, here it was waving to and fro rather like a sign hanging from chains outside a barbers shop. “Milking is going to be interesting,” I said as the roof bulged upwards and downwards in time with the gate.
With gusts of well over 130 k’s, I decided to leave the moke in the shed and walk to the back of the farm to get the cows in. I had a vision of the wind bellowing into the cab, lifting the moke up into the air and sending me sailing across the paddock with the end result being rather unpleasant. Trying to keep a hat on wasn’t a problem as it was thirty-six degrees but my main discomfort was the stinging barrage of dust particles giving my ears a good sandblasting. “Suck it up,” I growled. I leaned into it and staggered off to find the girls.
By the time I had extracted them from the trees and had run around like a demented duck flapping my arms and my shirt in an attempt to get them to face the wind and move into the dairy shed raceway, I was bushed. I squinted my eyes and battled the cows, the wind, the dust, and the howling noise and I eventually managed to push them down the raceway and into the milking yard. By this time, I was very grumpy, very thirsty, even more bushed … and missing Kapai. Cry was not an option but I decided a bucket of bait was and I headed back out again clutching a small pail of haylage in the hope that she would not argue. She didn’t, but I did discuss her pedigree with her as we zigzagged our way back to the others.
It was a milking to forget. The flies were awful, the cows were awful, keeping the milking cups on was awful and the water in the wash-down hose was awfully wet as it blew back in my face every time I turned it on to hose down the constant supply of runny poo’s being delivered by upset girls and, naturally, the delivery would be timed just as I was trying to get the cups back on. As I got one set on, another cow would kick another set off and as I just got that set re-attached, the cow next to her would take a fly swipe and both sets would drop. The wind howled, the dust swirled, the cows constantly flailed their legs and tails at the flies snapping onto them, the cups swung around clouting me, the poop splattered and I had to use a huge amount of self-control to prevent myself from throwing a wobbly … I knew it wasn’t their fault but murder was becoming an option.
I was reminded of one of the dairy farmers who had leased my herd. He was a determined young man who was not going to let anything get in his way as he successfully worked his way forward – including uncooperative cows. We were having a discussion on the aspects and merits of various breeds (yes – Jersey versus Friesian) and his overall philosophy was that you could have the best-producing cow in the world but she would be useless if you couldn’t harvest her milk safely. He was a bit of a short-tempered bloke and he made no bones about what he did with difficult milkers. He proudly informed me that, a couple of seasons previous, he had put every cow that annoyed him onto a works truck and that, he said, was the best thing he had ever done as it had made his life so much easier. I pondered on his viewpoint as I leaned into the wind and dragged my weary feet back to the house. Life certainly would be easier if I followed his example but, on today’s milking, the shed would be rather empty.