Thursday, July 22, 2010

A day in the life of a Frey wwoofer...

There wasn't any super exciting things that happened today so I figured I'd share a normal day here. Oh, wait. There isn't one. Ha ha ha. There is, however, a routine of chores that must be done daily and at certain times. But interspersed throughout are random gardening and cleaning chores. So.... here is a snapshot into a typical day at an atypical farm.

The house starts moving around 7:00 am. We eat breakfast sort of separately. Everyone kind of fixes what they want. Usually I have a piece of fruit. Today I had oatmeal with raisins. Other options include cereal with milk (not pasteurized), yogurt with fruit, coffee, etc. All of the food is certified organic from the local store or the co-op or fresh from the farm. They have a variety of greens that are readily available, beets, fresh milk from Buttercup, goat cheese made from the farm's goats, and the meat is from cows that they butchered right before I arrived. Anyways, that's the lowdown on food.

Work usually begins around 7:30am. The morning animal chores are feeding/watering the cows and goats, milking Buttercup, milking the six goats, and releasing/feeding the chickens. Today, I helped with the milking of Buttercup and the goats.

The animal milking is quite interesting. To milk Buttercup, we sort of corner her baby, Buckwheat. Buckwheat is separated from Buttercup for most of the day so that he doesn't get all of her milk. When Buttercup is milked, we make the pen a little smaller so there's a separate space for milking away from all of the cows (Hazel, Pumpkin, Sweetie Pie). Then Buttercup is given hay, harnessed, and attached to the fence. Fresh straw is strewn throughout the barn prior to milking. Then we collar her back legs so that she doesn't kick or move around during milking. Her teats are cleaned (along with our hands). And milking begins. About 2/3 of the way through milking, we stop and let out Buckwheat (her calf is old enough to survive without milk but gets it anyway so Buttercup keeps producing it). Buckwheat gets a chance to drink some of the milk to release the milk and make it easier to get from the udder. Then Buckwheat is tied up after a couple of minutes and milking continues. Then the pen is opened up to all of the cows and they go to the field or into the barn. Today, we got 2 1/2 gallons of milk. I said "we" a lot through this paragraph even though I stopped participating after the first round of milking. I didn't want to be in the pen when they let Buckwheat in, because it's a lot of motion that, to be honest, scares me.

The goat milking is a completely different story. There's a small table with a trough attached to it. When it's "goat milking time," we feed the goats and then open up the gate and one goat (or more if rookies are attempting it) run to the stand, jump on it, stick their head through the trough area, and munch on the hay we give them. They are sort of locked into position. One of their back legs is tied to the post of the barn so they are immobilized. Then their udder/teats are cleaned and they are milked. For the cow, we use a metal pail, but, for the goats, they use a small glass jar that is then filtered into another larger glass jar. When it's all finished, the goat is released from "milk prison," sent back to the goat pen, and the next goat runs to the milking stand. You have to be more careful of the goats. They move a lot when they run out of snacks or for no reason at all. They also do not always want to come down or out the way you want them to. They also smell a little funky and so does their milk.

All in all, pretty interesting insight into how much work goes into producing a food that we consume on a regular basis. Makes you really stop to wonder where the milk you drink actually comes from, what the cows are like, what the farmer is like, and more importantly what the farm is like.

The rest of the day has pockets of intense gardening and cleaning. Interesting but exhausting.

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