Extreme Milking

Sienna stands in the snow waiting to be milked.

Rain or shine, snow or sleet, out to the barn to milk I go. When you commit to milking a cow, there are no days off. I was reminded of this brutal reality when I was trudging through snow in below freezing temperatures a couple weeks ago.

Texas made national news when our state got hit with severe winter weather that lasted about a week and wreaked havoc on so many. The temperatures stayed below freezing for several days. We had snow, ice, and sleet. Pipes burst, roofs caved, cars crashed, power and water went out; you get the picture. Although I’m sure any Northerners who saw our bout with the winter storms as normal winter conditions, Texans are not prepared for this type of cold and snow, especially for such a length of time. Our infrastructure is not built to withstand it. 

I grew up in Missouri. I was reminded of the difference in states during the storm when I commented to my husband that I hoped the county had been able to plow our main road. He laughed at me when he informed me that the county didn’t have any snow plows.

Here’s evidence of my trudging through the snow to milk in the barn during the cold spell. It was dark out when I took this.

On the rare occasion that it snows in Texas, the snow doesn’t usually stick. If it does, it usually melts the following day. That has been my experience since I moved here seven years ago. However, this was not the case for our week of what many are calling “snowpocalypse.”

More than once during snowpocalypse, as I begrudgingly walked out to milk Sienna in the freezing cold, I thought to myself, “Why oh why do I have a milk cow?” Since I milk early in the morning, it’s pretty much the coldest part of the day. I bundled up like no other. It took me longer to put on my winter garb than it did to actually milk the cow.  

I had sympathy for any fellow hand-milkers who live in northern states and milk in the snow and cold all winter. No thank you!

On the coldest morning of snowpocalypse, it was eight degrees below freezing at our place. That was miserable to milk in. Obviously, I can’t wear gloves when I milk, so my hands were so cold. The milk was actually freezing to the side of the steel bucket. On the two coldest nights, I kept Sienna in the barn. One morning where I had left her out in the pasture, she came into the barn with icicles all over her. She was shivering, and I felt sorry for her. Her production did drop a bit during the extreme cold, and I knew she was using that energy to produce heat. 

Our “land of white” is a rare occurrence in East Texas.

Thankfully, our crazy winter weather didn’t last long. We were some of the lucky ones that didn’t lose power (except for about two hours one day) or water. We are also blessed with two springs and a pond on our property, so we didn’t have to tote water to the animals while our outdoor pumps were turned off. 

Weather forecasters have said Texas shouldn’t get another winter blast like we had in February for another 100 years. I hope they are right. I don’t mind saying that I’m glad I won’t be around for it… or milking a cow through it.  

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