Still here!

It has been a crazy few days.  On Friday, the pulsator on my milk machine went out.  The pulsator is what regulates the rhythm of the vacuum pump.  I was on the phone a good bit of the day trying to get it fixed or find a local alternative.  Finally I did, but we had to drive 80 miles one way to get it.

Wally’s back has been bothering him and this 160 mile road trip made it worst.  I wish I had know how bad his back was bothering him as I would have gone by myself.  In fact, if my truck was home on Friday (it was in the shop … again!), I would have.  It was one of those: we really have no choice.  We have a generator that we can use if we loose power because I simply cannot milk my two cows by hand.  Moon kicks like a mule and Penny’s teats are about a 1/4″ long, nothing to hold on to.  Only Moon is in milk right now.

Luckily the vacuum pump was fine and it is a very good one.  I have heard mixed reviews about the company that I bought the pump from so I was worried we’d have to replace the whole thing.  In fact, my pump is strong enough to milk two cows at a time, not that we will be doing that.  We purchased a bucket milking system this has a milking claw and only one hose going to the tank, which is a tote.  My former milker was a Surge bucket milking system which you sat next to the cow and had four long (four foot) hoses attached to inflators to go to the cow.  It’s like dealing with an octopus and most aggravating, but better than milking by hand and I have been using it for over two years now.  I’m going to get the pulsator repaired and then sell it.  I’d love to be able to milk my cows by hand, but that is not happening, at least not unless we completely loose power for good (i.e. when the zombies take over).  We did not need to spend that much money, but it could not be avoided.  It seems the pulsator was going out for a long time and it’s a wonder Moon did not kick me in the head for using it on her.  She seems much happier with the new milker and I am too.

Wally took it easy all weekend and his back is much better.  On Sunday I did his taxes and we got the rude surprise, well, not really a surprise because we were expecting it, but hoping it did not happen.  He took money out of his 401(k) to make a downpayment on this house and the 25 percent tax they took out when he withdrew it was not enough and now he owes over $4,000 in taxes.  Lovely.

The weather is what has been taking up my time, both mentally and physically.  The next couple of days are going to be horrid.  We got an ice storm overnight, no school today; it’s the next few days that have me concerned.  Wednesday, the low is going to be zero; Thursday three and not get above freezing all day.  I’ve been in North Carolina for 13 years now and it has never got that cold here.  I am very worried Haunted Milk Parlor2-2about how everyone and everything will fare.  There’s another winter storm forecast for Saturday. Hopefully after we get through this, it will start to warm up a bit.  This weather is hard on everyone.

Yesterday on my way home from school I picked up some straw and found a treasure-trove of photographic opportunities.  It is an old dairy and the man that owns it is very open to talking about how he used to do things.  I was supposed to meet with him yesterday, but I ended up just loading the straw myself and exploring without asking him to come out of his warm house. He is an older man and I’m sure the cold gets to him more than me. Anyway, I walked around and explored.  It was overcast so there was no directional light, but I will be going back, mostly like Wednesday to take pictures.  I’ve photographed there before, but I did not realize the old dairy equipment was still there.  It is similar to this set-up, but in much better shape.  There is more opportunity for light to come through the windows there too.

I hope that I can take time with the owner so that I can (1) photograph him in there and (2) learn how this worked. My milk machine is old and I wish it could talk because I’d love to know what it’s seen and done.

If it comes to pass, I have a very big surprise coming in the next couple of days.  Stay tuned!

Off to take care of the rabbits.  I have three does due to kindle (have babies) on the 17th.  These are does that have not delivered in the past and several are on their third shot, meaning if they do not have babies this time, they become sausage.  I have six replacement does already ready to breed so I need to make space for them.  If they do have babies they will have to come into the house overnight.  We have outside cats and I’d love to bring them inside, but they fight and spray (urine) and we simply cannot have that here.  They have quilts and a barn to go into, they should be okay.  Hopefully this is the last of the extreme cold for this year.

Until later …