Testing Times - Part Two

20 4 10

(prompt: 'river' 2/8/2019)

The blaring air-horn of the milk tanker resounded through the dairy, almost drowning out the chugging, hissing milking machine. Seconds later, a sickening thump and a series of piteous yelps sent us racing outside, hearts filled with dread. Couldn't be one of our dogs? Mother and daughter were safely tied up back at the house...

* * * * * *

On this, our first day of milking, Kanute and I had both gone out on foot to bring the cows in, guessing it required one human in front for them to follow, and one behind, encouraging forward impetus. We bravely believed cows that had been herded by a sheep farmer and his dogs, then treated to quiet, firm encouragement by humans 'on foot', would respond in like fashion, gratefully and calmly moving into whatever position or place you desired. Right?

Kanute clears his throat. "Actually, NO-o-o... Our 'girls' responded quite differently."

He's right. The drippy dames stopped everything to stare wide-eyed; poop; turn around and start following us (cows are SO curious); poop some more; finally start to move together (in the wrong direction); and for good luck, poop again. But at last they were in the concrete holding yard with the iron swing gate firmly chained behind them. With a press of a button, the milking machine sprung into action and finally we had 'all systems go'.

Except... the first cow entering the dairy stopped at the first pile of feed in the long trough and started eating. And the pile up began, with pushing and shoving like a mob scene at the opening of a department store sale. Soon, there were cows in the engine room - and the milk room around the huge refrigerated milk vat. Some went down the steps into 'our' pit; two were wedged tight between the tail rail and the trough; and another tried to jump over the feed trough, succeeding in straddling it instead, totally unable to make her way forward... or back. And they didn't cry us a river, they pooped it instead.

"And we thought we were nervous before our maiden milking began." I can't help a wry smile and a shake of my head, recollecting how sure we'd been our bravado could overcome anything. Huh! Our stomachs and our nervous systems closely resembled jellyfish status as we tried to restore order to the incredible chaos.

"Just had to let them all back out into the dirt yard," says Kanute. His eyes narrow and his top lip curls. And my nose crinkles involuntarily. Who could forget having to clean down the dairy before we could even continue, plus hastily removing the offending feed from the troughs.

Aha! You feed them AFTER they have walked in and shuffled and arranged themselves and pooped again.

* * * * * *

At last, there we were calmly milking our cows, until this stranger raced in... face red and flustered, voice loud and harsh with distress.

"Jeez... come quickly! I've just hit your dog! I think I might've killed her!"

Author's Note: I'm guessing I don't need to tell you there WILL be a third part next week? Thinking there'd be a good chance of a lynch mob arriving at the farm-gate otherwise!

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