Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tilling the land

Once upon a time....a long time ago...I was a farmer. A dairy farmer it's true, but a dairy farmer especially a small one as we were, has to be many things.

1. a guy with Popeye forearms from squeezing all those teats. Yes we had milking machines, but after washing and drying the udders you have to squirt a few squirts from each teat to insure that the milk is OK. Looking for abnormalities and testing a small amount to check for a bacteria presence. You may know that fresh milk from a healthy cows udder is free from bacteria....and if properly handled will mostly stay that way until consumed. Hence the need for constant cleaning of milkers, pipelines, tanks and ensuring that the milk is rapidly cooled to about 36 degrees F and kept that way through the process from cow to consumer.

Another thing is that sometimes due to circumstances it becomes necessary to milk a cow away from the barn. If you don't have a small portable electric powered milker pump with either a generator or long electric cord, you wind up milking out all her milk by hand. Try that on a cow that produces 5 gallons in the morning and 5 gallons in the afternoon. Thats about 85 pounds and I've had cows that produced as much as 140 pounds a day.

2. A husbandman of not only the cows and young stock but of crops like corn and hay, pastures in the summer and winter, winter wheat, spring rye, sorghum cane....you name it.

3. A mechanic to work on all the equipment that it takes to till, harvest, fertilize. Tractors, manure spreaders, silo loaders and un-loaders, hay cutters, hay balers, silage wagons, feeding wagons and all the electrical equipment that controls so much of the dairy process.

4. A fence post setter and wire stretcher.

5. A driver of trucks, tractors, earth movers and smoothers and most importantly of men (hopefully done by leading and example) and animals.

But that life is long in the past. Years and the added burden of too much weight has about brought me low.

What causes all this moaning and groaning you may ask.

Well you may.

I was tasked with getting the garden tiller cranked this morning and tilling up a small plot for the wife to set some daisy plants out.

Well the tiller doesn't want to crank easily today so I'm off to the auto parts for some oil and starting fluid.
We're soon in business finding roots and rocks enough to fill a wheel barrow. (this for a single tiller wide patch eight feet long). All the jostling, wrenching, bouncing and lifting of rock of various sizes up to 30 pounds soon had my lower back screaming for a little relief.

A trip to CVS for a back brace, and then a return to CVS to get a larger size since my pants size does not in any way resemble my actual belly size.. Just Damn! I've got to get rid of a 3 or 4 year old kid who has somehow grown inside me. My first goal has to be to lose 30 lbs...the next to lose at least 10 more while doing enough exercise to keep the belly from hanging down around my......well...

The process started at lunch where I had two hot dogs...no bun...with a bit of mustard and 16 oz of water. Tonight limiting the portion size and making myself stay away from the pound cake lurking enticingly under the cake plate cover on yonder table.

Well at least the back pain has eased and soon I'll take it to bed. We'll see what the morrow brings. Hopefully something nice.

See you in the morning.


Jean said...

It is a very, very sad thing that so few people have any idea what it takes to get that gallon of milk to the grocery store.
I love farmers. The hardest working people on the planet.

Hope your back is ok.

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