Saturday, 13 August 2011

Father always kept Ayrshire Cows (5) with just the odd Friesian

Father always kept Ayrshire cows, but there was just the odd Friesian, which, when asked why, he would say tongue in cheek "Oh we just keep her at the end of the shed to wash the shed down with, its blue milk, no butterfat."

This was how The Beeches Farm looked years ago when we were kids. The building on the right in the back ground was where all the grain was stored in the loft and milled or crushed in the shed below, it also had the mongol pulper and straw chopper, from the days when it was all carried round the sheds to the cows.
Father and his neighbour sometime went up to Scotland to a breed sale and would buy about twenty incalf Ayrshire heifers between them, enough to fill a cattle lorry.
We would get a phone call in advance about how many to expect and to prepare a suitable shed for them to be dropped in. Quite often the wagon would arrive back here before dad and his mate, at two in the morning.They put up in some digs over two nights and got home about lunch time the following day.
I recall that they had bought the first dehorned cattle in the area, and everyone was inquisitive to see these Ayrshire cattle with no horns. It was not long after that that he had the horns cut off all the cows and dehorned all calves as they were born. It was a gruesome job, and performed in the stalls where they were tied up, the vet tied string tightly round the base of the cows horns as a tourniquet, then used four foot shears to clip them off in one swift cut. It took two or three men to close the shears on the older cows, and on odd ones where they had cut close too the string, the string slipped off and blood spurted up in a fine spray up into the rafters of the cowshed.
Talk about rivers of blood. After a day or two the wounds dried up, but it was noticeable that the cows that had always done the bullying now got a very soar head when they butted the others.

Father ran a dairy herd

Father ran a dairy herd, of mainly Ayrshire cows,
These were housed traditionally, tied in stalls in rows,
Brought down for milking, had to be tied with a chain,
Each knew there own stall, a left and a right contain.

Cows were used to standing, to their own side of the stall,
They would part to let you in between when you call,
A bowl full of corn, and in with the bucket and stool,
Milked by hand while they're eating, was good job when it's cool.

He was one of the first to try, a new fangled milking machine,
A vacuum pipe was installed, new motor and pump had to be,
Four unit buckets and a spare, four cows milked nice and clean,
This was quicker by far, once the cows got used to routine.

Milk was cooled in the dairy, with water from the well,
The dairy collected it every day, had to be cool to sell,
The fridge was a copper heat exchanger hanging on the wall,
On top a Dee shaped receiving pan, fresh milk we poured it all.
Well water runs on the inside the fridge, milk run down outside,
Churns were filled for the dairy, to a measured mark inside,
Labelled with where it's to go, at one time went by train,
Now a lorry picks up the churns, from a churn stand on the lane.

Thirty more years he milked this way, in churns milk was poured,
Restricted now by the number of stalls, yields he did record,
Bulk tank came and a pipeline too, milk tanker every day,
This took Father to retirement, very modern to do it this way.

Owd Fred

Father always reared all his heifer calves, and when AI first came about he used it on his best thirty cows and his own bull on the rest, the bull calves going off down to the market when old enough. Calves reared were started on their mothers milk and continued on cows milk for a couple of weeks when gradually they were introduced onto gruel, which was mainly Linseed, and this had to be scalded before you could feed it to the calves. There was no powdered milk equivalent available then and gruel was the best option so the maximum milk could go to the dairy.

Linseed Gruel for Calves

Always reared our own replacements, for the dairy herd,
Soon weaned off mother's milk, linseed gruel prepared,
Gruel it had to be scalded, to kill the enzymes off,
Otherwise the calves would scour, and then begin to cough.

Just a week on full cow's milk, then started to feed them gruel
When they were a month old, it was the only fuel,
Along with a bit of cow corn, and a rack with meadow hay,
Reared, a bit pot bellied, when out they're turned on grass day.

A couple of years rearing and growing then put them to the bull,
They will be replacements, for the ones we have to cull,
Calved down at three years old, to be a well grown cow,
Years in the dairy herd, good feet and health allow.

Owd Fred

As it has always been, there was dairy inspections, and these came when you least expected them, but the time to work seriously at cleaning up was on a very wet day.
The old white wash was scraped off the walls with garden hoe's along with the splashes of dried on cow muck, and a new coat of lime wash applied, this included the dairy where the milk was cooled and run into churns.

A Wet Day Job

On days when it's too wet work outside, find a job indoors,
Grab a couple of garden hoes; scrape cowshed walls and floors,
A good soaking and scrubbing, get the cow muck off,
Where the cows have splashed, and had a dam good cough.

Out with a small tin bath, bag of quick line pour,
Mix with water till a thin paste, ten minuets stand before,
Brushed up the walls, with an old house brush soft,
Gleaming white and clean, right up to the old hayloft.

Spot check by the dairy inspector, they turn up out of the blue,
Just when you don't expect, look at the sheds right through,
The milk house where milk is cooled gets same job done,
Cows wary of the new d├ęcor, inspectors' inspection won.

Owd Fred

Molasses, has come back into fashion in the last twenty years or so, but when we were kids father had a forty gallon drum in the corn shed on a block so he could run off some when it was needed. The drum was half used and thick with mill dust, and the lower small bung was only finger tight. We used to take this bung out and wait for the treacle to slowly ooze out and get fingers full of the stuff before replacing the bung

Black Molasses in the Barn

I Remember at the Beeches, way back in the barn,
A great big forty gallon drum, on a block away from harm,
It contained black molasses; a good half of it was used,
With hot water mixed, and spread on oats when they were bruised.

Take the bung out and wait a bit, for it to slowly flow,
We all liked to have a taste, dad said it'd help us grow,
A finger full and then another, it was lov-ely and sweet,
Left your hands all sticky, you couldn't be discrete.

We had plenty over the time, but still a lot unused,
Mother said it would move us, but father he was amused,
He said a good clean out, every now and then,
Would tone us up, and help us all, to grow to big strong men.

Owd Fred

A quarrel is like buttermilk, the more you stir it, the more sour it grows(Bolivian Proverb)