When he saw our milking process, he exclaimed, "Wow, ya'll are clean!" What he was talking about was our "filtering process," which is simply a clean cotton rag that we tie over the milking bucket. It is nothing fancy at all. He told me that they didn't do that. They just milked directly into a bucket. If it was raining and the cows were dripping water, well, the rainwater went into the milk. If the cow was shedding hair, the hair went into the milk bucket, too. (Uggghh!) Same with hay, dust, etc. He told me that they would remove anything like bugs or straw that they could see floating before they drank it.
The rag filter is a simple thing that catches any of that prior to it getting into the delicious milk.
|Milk doesn't get any fresher than this!|
The rag is bigger in diameter than the milking pail and so I simply move the mud-stained rag to the side, revealing a clean portion to milk through. I can only think of one time since 2007 that I had to walk back to the house to get a fresh rag. It is not just from the front end of the cow that you have to watch out for, though. The cows love to swish their tails to swat away mosquitoes. It just so happens when you are milking them that your head is right in the way. They swish their tail to get a mosquito or fly and the wet tail whips across your face, getting dew (I hope it is just dew!) all over you. We've learned to tie some hay twine around their back end that holds their tail in place. You never want to tie their tail to anything, because if you forgot to untie it, they could pull their tail off! Ouch!!
After all of this rain, we've had a mean hatch of mosquitoes. They are all over the place biting us and the animals alike. It is just miserable. It creates an opportunity for patience building as we are milking. The mosquitoes will bite the cow (or us) and become filled with blood. Then they are too full to fly and inevitably fly between the bucket and the stream of milk as we're milking. The blood filled mosquito will crash land into the cloth filter covering the bucket and you have to be really careful to pick the mosquito off of the filter without bursting her and getting blood on the rag. (I say her because only female mosquitoes bite.) This makes milking a cow a longer job than it should in order to keep mud and blood and other impurities out of the milk.
But it is a labor of love and the fruit of our labor is worth it as we get delicious, fresh, clean milk each and every day. Tricia even made homemade Dewberry and Blueberry ice cream this weekend with the heavy cream that we skimmed off the top. That was a special treat!