‘Honey, honey…’ ahh, ABBA. They have quite a few songs adaptable to the crofting lifestyle. But this one cuts the mustard for Dryope (she is a cow before you ask and no we didn’t name her). Just need to change the lyrics from ‘love’ to ‘milk’ and it fits the bill.
The dizzy thing in the song? Aye, have that too, thats’s just from standing back up again after trying to get the machine on her. And not only that, bending down low next to a cow takes a wee bit of courage, particularly if they show signs of wanting to bend it like Beckham rather than practicing to be one of those live statues on street corners. And with that concept, when it comes to the machine at the moment, I too look like I should be at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (if it was on this year); but not as those live statues, but as a juggler. Because yes, don’t go putting a wee drop of milk into your tea without a bit of appreciation to the work that goes into getting that milk to you.
Now, big farmers will have a much better and efficient set up than us to start with. We just have a wee mini milker that we wheel out. Once everything is in place, toddle out to the field and it can vary. One day, they are queuing up. The next, oomph, they adhere to social distancing rules to the extreme. Never fear, once in, we can get it going. Except this is where I look like I’m practicing to be a stand up comedian learning to juggle. I can’t always get the machine to stay on the cow. Simple in theory. Basic really. Until you realise the pressure isn’t always right. And you need to get four hooked up while keeping a wee pin at the bottom pushed in to ensure the right pressure. Start at the back, swiftly pull the pressure pin, after getting the back two on, try and get the front ones on before the back ones fall off and hit the ground. Swift grab to catch them while trying to keep pressing the pressure button thingy and you end up where you started. So the two hands, five piece juggling set speeds even further up (so really, all wanna-be jugglers need to go work on a dairy farm). But speed still doesn’t always do it. Don’t get me wrong, some days I can get it on, sorted and stand back up without a hint of dizziness. Some days the statue, some days the pigeon as the saying goes.
Before the certain tut tutting comes from the firm traditionalists, I have been doing some hand milking too. Yep, I can satisfy both camps on that front. But it is a different skill and even then, some cows are easier to do it on then others. So it needs a bit of work too. One of ours is really good at kicking the bucket. Good equivalent to jump star exercises as you’re always thinking it (her leg) is coming (the kick) at you (and the dizzy thing isn’t there at all because for this you now have dead legs). But it gives us fresh milk (we are pasteurising it).
And so with that, maybe the milk juggling act with a hint of dizziness isn’t so bad. Add the occasional swish from the tail right across your cheeks and we’re onto a winner.