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Helping out makes chores difficult

August 3, 2012
By Kerry Hoffman , The Journal

My 18-year-old, 6-foot 2-inch tall baby has been sick this week.

When he looked at me with his big hazel eyes and asked me to help milk cows Tuesday morning, because he, "still had a headache," I couldn't resist.

He knows how to manipulate situations to his advantage when he wants his mommy's help.

Article Photos

Kerry Hoffman

Besides, I hadn't really been in the milking barn for quite some time and I love milking with our boys.

I woke Tuesday morning actually looking forward to going out to the barn. When I looked out the stairwell window, I was a bit hesitant to go out to the barn. Kyle Fischer, our newest employee, was already in the barn getting the milking parlor ready for the morning.

Joey says I make Kyle nervous, so I haven't milked with him since his first day. I know I can be a bit "out there," but I didn't think I made anyone nervous. After that first day, I left the training up to Joey.

Because I couldn't go back on my word, I knew I had to go out to the barn.

We were cruising along and getting the cows milked in record time when Joey discovered one of the gates in the cow yard wasn't switched when we prepared for morning chores. This meant we would be sorting cows later, because several Group One cows meandered out to the pasture and were commiserating with those dastardly Group Two cows.

OK, Group Two cows are not troublemakers. They just seem to have a bit more attitude than Group One cows.

Really, they do. A cow can be a member of Group One and be the sweetest thing. Then, for some reason, when she makes the move to be a member of Group Two, she becomes a basket case.

Steve says it's because their udders are not-so-full and it's not such a relief to have a milking unit put on.

Joey, Kyle and I continued to milk the remaining Group One cows. All of a sudden every single milking unit fell off the cow. It's kind of funny, they don't all just fall off; they do it rhythmically. Unit 12 starts to slip off, then Unit 11 and on down the line until Unit 1 falls down between the cows legs.

There's nothing we can do but stand by and get ready to make some sort of repair and reattach milking units.

As it was, the pipeline was full of milk and that makes the vacuum in the pipeline fail hence the falling milking units.

Kyle, Joey and I cleaned out an overflow jar that was filled with curdled milk. If I had to guess, I think the same think happened the night before and this jar was never cleaned out. Curdled milk came squirting out of the jar, which elicited several comments about "not drinking milk before you go out for the night," and "I hope you learned your lesson."

Once everything was cleaned up, we started milking again and arrived at the time to sort those pasture-roaming Group One cows from Group Two.

It was all going splendid until Kyle noticed the gate in the parlor wasn't closed and every cow from Group Two cow that was supposed to stay in the parlor was walking right out the north end and co-mingling with Group One.

We had just reversed our very first cow mix-up.

Kyle said something like, "I noticed they were walking right through, but didn't think anything of it."

I can relate to occasionally being in that sort of zone.

I said, "Well, I never even thought of closing the gate I was watching you guys sort."

Joey added, "It's so hard to work with rookies."

I wonder? Do you think Joey will ask me to help the next time he has a headache?

For comments, or questions, e-mail me at



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