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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Manure and Relief Milking

It has been a year since our relief milking job finished and the dairy farmer sold the herd and retired to beef cattle production. The 100+ girls were shipped in multiple B double loads to the South Coast and a new life. A new life also commenced for the relief milker who took some time to get used to sleeping in on Sundays. Although it wasn't always just Sundays but several times a year the farmer needed his week or two holiday or once a month there was the mid week golfing game or a Saturday early game.

Seven years builds a routine into the body and change was slow to come. In many ways this rhythm of this life is a sad passing. Rising at 4am to be at the dairy by 5 to set up before driving down to the flats to wake the girls. A quick spin around the Springer paddock to see if there are any new mums. A wet bundle on the ground with steam rising from it as mum vigorously licks. Wait and watch to ensure the wobbly bundle gets to its feet and has that first nourishing drink. Gender and tag number are noted and congratulations are given and on to the main task.

There was something special about watching the girls stroll up the rise to the dairy sometimes in the lights of the quad other times the Summer sun not quite poking over the horizon. Also something special when the first Autumn mists shrouded the herd. The bovine warmth in the pit as cups were afixed, the large dark eyes looking down at you as they filed into the line for their fix of grain while milked. Something special as the last girl left the dairy and you climb out to see the sun coming up. The day just starting and you have just finished work.

Every week or two a trailer load of manure would be brought home to be used around our farm in various ways. Nearly a ton of manure took only minutes to load using one of the dairy farm's big tractors with a front end loader. The manure automatically lodged in the effluent pit after washout each milking.

Over the years the manure was used in various ways. Every few years a barrow load or two went around each fruit tree and then covered in weed mat to protect against removal by the chooks. A dozen loads would go into the concrete block enclosure to break down and be used in the Spring planting of the tomatoes. And some would be used to beef up the composts made with chipped Winter prunings.

All that has now changed. After our cattle are moved into a fresh paddock each week we go around with old feed bags and collect each pat by hand. So back to the basics once more.

Packing them into the Dairy Yard


Milking Over

The last load and the end of dairying

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