It has been a while since I last wrote a post (I was doing so well for a while!), but things have been really crazy the last few weeks, and I was just too mentally tired to write.
Several things have changed to make this time harder on me physically and mentally.
1, we got a new intern AF. Training takes time, and a lot of mental effort to make sure I am explaining things clearly and fully. But the hardest part about this for me has not been working with my coworker AG as much. She and I bonded quickly when I first moved in, partially because we worked together 4 out of our 5 days working a week from the beginning. Often we would work together through the full day, milking through closing. Now this could have also turned out trying, but our personalities fit together so well, we became fast friends and we worked really well together. Often we have found we do not have to say full sentences to get each other to understand what we are trying to ask, and we laugh, all through the day, we enjoy working together and we’re fast. Then AF came, and we now rarely milk together, and never close together, and often are split doing things on opposite sides of the farm during the day. The new intern is learning, AF tries as best she can, and is making great improvements it is true, but the personalities don’t quite fit, and communication is often strained. I have found myself comparing AF to AG, which is not fair and I know it, but there are days that I have been tired and just wanted to be done that my brain has said “Oh come on AG would have been done already.” It is not fair, I know it isn’t, and I am trying to fix that part of my brain, and enjoy the differences. But I really miss working with AG, I miss everything going smoothly without having to comment, and when they didn’t, I miss joking and laughing.
2, we have started milking twice a day. Which means we are milking at 6 am and 3:30 pm, rather than just at 7 am like we were. Having to be up a full hour earlier is definitely much harder than I expected. There is absolutely no light out yet, it is really cold, and the cows are not waiting at the gate for you. This last one may seem silly, but their pasture right now is pretty big, and when you have to walk around in the dark (with a flashlight if you remember) trying to see them, get them motivated, and then actually get them moving in the right direction, before it is even pretending to get light, it can be a tiring first chore. I milk at 4 pm 3-4 times a week, which means my day doesn’t end until at least 5:30 pm. Which again doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it had been really nice being done at 3 (most days) for the day, and then just being able to relax. Even when days went late I wasn’t working past 5. Now when things run late I am not finished until 6:30 or 7, and have been likely working ALL day. I had my first 12 hour day the other day, and it was not my best day. Yes when I milk in the evening I get part of the afternoon off, but it just doesn’t feel the same and just being done by mid afternoon. We have only been twice a day milking for a week, so hopefully I will get used to the schedule soon.
3, it has gotten cold. Several mornings this last week when we went out for that 6 am milking it was under 20 degrees outside. Now this may not seem like a big deal me growing up in Illinois, but our dairy on Deck is outside. Completely outside. This has meant that while we are spraying all of the poop and cleaning off the cows, we are sticking to every metal thing we touch because it is so cold and our hands get wet. Two of my coworkers have asked me how I did it in Illinois, and I told them simply that we don’t build dairies outside in places where it snows. Milking is the worst, all of the other chores are very physical and get you moving and your blood gets pumping and you warm up pretty quick. But while milking you stand around a lot, or at least aren’t moving very far, and so you don’t really have a chance to warm up. This combined with how early we are milking, and how dark it still is, has made me begin to dislike mornings. Yes it is great to watch the sunrise, but it is so cold.
It has been a really hard last week, a lot of long really cold days. But in the end it is worth it. The experience I am gaining is priceless. It is just hard to remember that at 6 am when it is 19 degrees out and the components of the dairy are frozen and you have to brainstorm how to get them unfrozen before you are really awake.