Friday, July 2, 2010

The Milk Matron Fights Back

Now that my good humor is restored, and my wondermous husband has returned, I can safely write about my milking experiences with the evil Fiona McBride. They started on Monday evening after Emma left for Rome. I didn't trust myself to write before now, this being a family-oriented blog and all.

Fiona made it abundantly clear on the first day that she infinitely preferred Emma--the young and sweet milk maid, to me--the old and cross milk matron. It took me nearly an hour to get her milked that evening, she moved around so much. She even kicked at me with what I am sure was a searching motion that kind of hovered and reached out, hunting my flesh. In between times she peered disdainfully at me, and I glared back at her.

I, too, can be stubborn and mean.

Nothing improved on the second day, but it did rain on us for one milking, cooling our mutually bad tempers. She kicked so much that time that I could not keep stuff out of the milk, and I did not dare lift my eyes from the job at hand, lest she catch me off guard and score. Consequently, every few minutes I jerked the milk bucket out of the way and swung my legs to safety. (Emma will say that Fiona was kicking at flies.)

The evening milking of the third day was the absolute worst. Fiona had me doing the bunny hop with my little stool, trying to keep near enough to her to reach her teats. She swung far and wide, like a little dinghy tied to a pier during a hurricane. Finally I got up, hauled off and whacked the heck out of her flank with my hand, yelling, "YOU BAD COW! STOP IT!"

Immediately I heard Emma's shocked reaction, "MOM!" in the large section of my brain that is labeled "GUILT", but I couldn't stop my rage.

Between the exertion and the anger, my face burned. Fiona was none too pleased herself, but she didn't stop moving. In fact, she plotted and schemed and came up with the ultimate revenge. She moved on the inside too--a giant, loose, green, steamy mound plop-plop-plopped heavily to the ground. She sneered at me as if to say, "Take that, Sisterwoman!"

"You STUPID cow!" I yelled. ("I'm really sorry, Emma," I whispered.)

I jumped up from my stool and jerked Fiona to a new location at the fence, forcing her side against it. Have you ever pushed a cow sideways? It is hard work. I don't remember anything after that. I must have blacked out from exasperation. The next thing I recall is that I had tugged her back to her pasture and given her one last slap on the flank just to let her know who she was dealing with. I successfully ignored Emma-in-my-head and exulted in my success at doling out the final insult. If Emma doesn't like the way I handle her cow, then she ought not to go traipsing off to Italy, I told myself smugly as I stormed back home, triumphant but stiff and aching all over.

Then Herb came home from Chicago Wednesday night about 9:30. O happy day! Everything goes so much better when he is home. Thursday morning bright and early he installed the new parts he had ordered for the milking machine that we used occasionally when we had goats in Louisiana. He fetched Fiona from the pasture and tied her by the garage where he had set up the motorized miracle.

He flicked it on, and Fiona almost came unglued. She bolted but couldn't go far. At that moment my heart melted just a teency-weency bit, and I petted her face and comforted her. As I did, I began to hear Emma singing The Whistling Gypsy Rover:

The gypsy rover came over the hill
Down through the valley so shady,
He whistled and he sang 'til the greenwoods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.
Chorus:Ah-de-do, ah-de-do-da-day,
Ah-de-do, ah-de-da-ay
He whistled and he sang 'til the greenwoods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.

I took Emma's gentle cue and sang to Fiona, and I think she started to like me a little bit, for the moment anyway.

Artwork: Family Milk Cow Dairy Supply Store

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