From the Farm: Safety equipment definitely needed

Working in the milking parlor everyday can be a bit of a hazard.

Standing at a lower level than the cows allows for all kinds of nasties to be splattered your way.

It’s not uncommon for my co-worker to holler, “Incoming!”

That’s like a code red for “Get out of the way, a cow is going to relieve herself in your area.”

Most of the time the splattering isn’t all that grand. A healthy cow will leave a very well-laid-out pile.

Now, the sick cows leave a very chaotic pattern, probably because they have a very chaotic pattern going on in their tummies.

It’s not uncommon, as awful as it sounds, for manure to splatter onto a face, for example. It should also be noted that it doesn’t take long to earn to face away from the splatter, until you no longer hear it splattering. It’s part of the job and you get used to it.

Wednesday morning the cows were a bit on edge. Hubby was at meetings, so we had a replacement milker for him by the name of Tarah.

She must smell better than Hubby, because the cows sure knew something was amiss in the milking parlor. When something is amiss in the parlor, there is a heckuva lot more splattering.

It just so happened that Tarah was up in the holding area bringing cows into the milking parlor when the word “Incoming!” should have been shouted.

It landed in my eye. It was like looking through a dust storm, only ickier.

Now, there was no burning sensation and it didn’t feel like anything from within the poo was scratching my eyeball, so I figured no harm done. It just made everything look like – well, you know.

I continued, and finished the milking chores without a hitch.

Because I didn’t sleep worth a hoot Tuesday night, the first thing I did after this dangerous milking was shower up and climb back into bed for a quick nap. (Quick turned into an hour and it still wasn’t even 11 a.m.)

I woke up feeling even more tired, made a pot of coffee and ventured into the biffy.

I peered into the mirror and was horrified.

My contaminated eye was redder than red can be. It doesn’t hurt. Just looks like I was in a Three Stooges act and Larry poked me in the eye.

Thursday morning wasn’t any different. It didn’t involve my eye, but it was pretty darn close.

As I mentioned earlier, the person doing the milking is actually standing lower than the cows.

Our parlor was constructed with safety in mind. The lower bar behind the cows was put at a certain level to prevent the cows from having the ability to make contact with body part. The design works pretty slick, as long as you keep most of your body parts behind that particular pole. Put anything in front of it and I can’t guarantee the cow won’t make contact with that body part. Cows have stepped on my hand, kicked my arm and jammed my fingers.

Like I said, the design works great as long as everyone follows the rules.

Sometimes the smaller cows scoot forward and you have to lean in beyond the invisible safety barrier to dip the cow’s teats with iodine. Sometimes the cows have sore feet, mostly those nasty hairy heel warts, which have to be treated with this awesome smelling medicine. I don’t know what’s in the treatment, but it really does smell good.

It’s too bad the smell doesn’t take away the way it must sting when we spray it directly on the heel wart of the affected foot.

Thursday morning, was such the case. A new heifer, which gave birth overnight, came into the parlor for the first time. She has a nasty wart on her right-rear foot. (By the way, we had two new calves this particular morning and one of them came from the heifer named M, which I wrote about just the other week.)

I grabbed the spray bottle with the medicine and got one small squirt on the wart. The heifer scooted forward and started shaking her foot. Kind of like when I hopped around when I smashed my finger between a cement block

and a loader bucket. (If only cows could swear.)

I leaned in and the heifer shook her food right into my face and hit me directly on the nose and mouth. To be honest, it was gross! Thank goodness she wasn’t actually kicking; that would have hurt.

I was a bit freaked. I now have to deal with the fear of having a hairy heel wart growing on my nose and mouth. Zach just laughed when I told him it made a squishing sound when the heifer’s foot made contact with my face.

Steve scolded me. I reminded him that “I am a 46-year-old and I know I screwed up. You don’t need to reprimand me.”

I tried to give him a kiss and he ran the other way.

Of all the nerve!

I may have to consider find a goalie’s mask to use as a piece of safety equipment, providing I don’t have a growth on my face next week.

If that happens, I may have to steal the Unknown Comic’s costume.

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at kahoffman@newulmtel.net.

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