November 3, 2010

#19: Milk A Cow

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Confession: I’m not a huge animal person. It’s not so much that I dislike animal’s it’s just that I would rather hang out with humans.There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. And in this case, my huge exception would be dogs. Dogs are the best (cats are the worst). There were times in high school that I preferred to hang out with my dog rather than with my parents, for example (sorry Mom and Dad). Possible other exceptions to the rule are fish and snakes. Fish and snakes are cool.Since cows do not fall into the category of dogs, fish or snakes … you can imagine that I’m not particularly inclined to hang out with them.However, I love one thing cows provide: milk. If you are one of those fools who does not appreciate milk, you must enjoy some kind of a milk-derivative. Yogurt? Ice Cream? Cheese? Pizza? Who doesn’t like pizza?!? If you are lactose-intolerant, I am sorry.The point is: I needed to cross #19: Milk a Cow off my 161 List.H’s friend C is a member of the Cornell University Dairy Science group (CUDS). CUDS holds a fundraiser cattle sale every year in October, and nearly 100 cows are housed in the Livestock Pavilion on Cornell’s campus. C informed me that the week of the cattle sale was prime time to cross #19 off the 161 List because students are allowed to visit the Pavilion, interact with the animal’s, and even milk a cow.H, K and S wanted in on the udder-squeezing, and it’s always more fun to make a fool of yourself while your friends watch. C said he was happy to meet us and show us the ropes. When we arrived at the Livestock Pavilion, C was ready and waiting. The pavilion was bumping with all sorts of cow-related activities. The cows were lined up throughout the pavilion. Some cows were being washed (they were remarkably clean!), other cows were being fed and some were straight chilling in the hay. C gave us a run down of everything CUDS does on campus, and an entire education on cattle: How a cow is bred, when a cow is ready to milk, what the cows eat.C then escorted us to the back of the pavilion where they kept the cows that were in the process of being milked. We were distributed blue, plastic gloves in order to protect the cows’ udders from infection. As we learned, a cow’s udders are vulnerable to “mastisis” — an inflammation of the mammary gland that in most cases means a bacterial infection in the udder. “Who wants to go first??”(If you guessed me, good job.)The milking itself was awesome and fun, but definitely a little awkward. I mean, you are grabbing and squeezing a cow’s teat. Although, I suppose it’s more of a cross between a grab and a pinch … not really a hand motion you would utilize for any other activity.The teat was a little wrinkly, and the udders were massive…some cows hold up to 30 pounds of milk in their udders at once! Could you imagine waddling around with 30 pounds of anything hanging from your genitals? Not a pretty picture, but props to the cows for accepting this position in the animal kingdom.There is definitely a finesse and rhythm to milking. I’m not precisely sure how to qualify this finesse, but I do know I don’t possess it. And I definitely do not have any kind of a rhythm, unless squirting the milk in a hundred different directions counts as a “rhythm.”Needless to say, I don’t have a career as a dairy farmer, so I’m glad CUDS has the future of America’s dairy supply covered.The trip to the Pavilion, CUDS’ patience and enthusiasm, and the squeezing/pinching of the teat definitely made #19:Milk a Cow one of the most unique and glorious 161 experiences.And cows, (uh, since I’m sure you’re all reading this …) keep doing what you do.

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Original Author: Eve Shabto