Here is what I learned the first two months I was on the dairy:
On dairy farming:
(Most of this was told to me by the resident dairy expert. Some of it I learned by experience.)
Never wrestle with 100 lb day old calves. They are incredibly strong and as stubborn as a mule. I made this mistake and it took two and a half weeks for my back to feel normal again..
When chopping a hole in the ice on the pond, angle the blade away from your face, otherwise you get ice chips in your eyes, hair and perhaps, if you have mistakenly aimed just right, up your nose.
Cows on a dairy are not really in their natural habitat; they were meant to live in and roam the wild, not be put into the same field day after day in winter where they lay in their own crap, necessitating your having to clean their udders off. It’s not nice. They also were not meant to be crammed into the same lot before milking where they crap on each others sides and heads; and cows with green caps are not really attractive.
While standing at almost eye level with a cow’s udder in the milking parlor keep a sharp eye out for the tail, which might be swished around to hit your face and souse you with crap.
And while we are on the subject; do not stand behind a cow that is crapping and shows a tendency to cough at the same time. It’s not a pretty sight; however envious a major league pitcher might be of the velocity of the flying cow pie.
One day upon coming back from feeding the dry cows up the road and advising the resident dairy expert that there was a calf up there I was asked; “Which cow had the calf?” My response: “Ummm… well, dear, all I can remember is that it was one of the black and white ones.” So I have learned to not only recognize that a birth may perhaps be imminent but also to look for the number on the ear tag or recognize some trait of the expectant mother. An expectant mother has a more developed udder.
A “dry” cow is one taken from the milking herd and put in a separate pasture for her udder to dry out one to three months before she has the next calf.
A “fresh” cow is one that has just had a calf and has started milking again.
There are three forms of amusement out in the deep country; the mail, traffic on the road (you never know who it might be) and the activities of the neighbors.
There is a lot of dirt in the country. I have probably swept half of the county out of my kitchen already and I have only been here barely 2 months.
It would appear in that the natives of Missouri only give names to roads because they are required to by this new fangled 911 deal; not because they actually use them. Whenever I get directions from the locals they never give streets or actual addresses; they always say things like; “turn left at the second stop light in town.” Or, “it’s three streets past what USED to be the Grocery Store, but now is Bill’s Garage.” And then they will give you the history of when the traffic light was put in or how the grocery store turned into a garage, which is all rather interesting, but still, at the end of a 30 minute conversation you are just as clueless how to get from point A to point B as you ever were. Usually I resort to either the map or to calling the place and asking for directions. Several times I have just taken the bit between my teeth and gone driving around until I found the place. Oh, and out here in rural Missouri don’t even bother trying to find a residential address by using mapquest.com; none of the rural addresses are on there. You will do like my brother and sister in law did when they came out for my wedding; get lost. The directions will send you to the town, but here where the actual residence may be 10 miles from town, this is not helpful. That brings us to another issue; cell phones are not reliable out here. Much of the time, due to the hills and loooong distances, cell phone service is extremely patchy. If you get lost and need to use the cell to call someone, by the time you find a spot where you get a cell signal and can call you are twice as lost as you were before.