Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Coming Soon: A Better Place to Milk

Gucci has been keeping an eye on all the commotion by her corral. My wonderful, creative, hard-working neighbor, Manny, has agreed to finish up what my original idea for the milking area was going to be. I wanted a place to milk the goats, to milk the cow and a place to store hay all in one. That was supposed to be the 12x12 ramada. It worked except that it has a dirt floor and Gucci has a really long neck when the hay isn't properly covered by the tarp. There are no gates to really keep her out, and as you might imagine, she's incredibly strong when she wants something.

Construction began Monday. I ordered the gravel mix for the concrete. My neighbor and I waited until the truck arrived and dumped out the goodies. I could tell he was anxious to get to "the depot" as he calls Home Depot, so we could buy the wood for framing up the concrete area. Manny doesn't waste time. He isn't slow, and he doesn't procrastinate. I often show up in the evening, surprised at all he's done since I left in the morning. But then again, I've had lots of bad experiences when hiring others to get things done.

Basically, the ramada will be divided into three sections. A large place for the hay, with a gate that closes so Gucci can't get to it when she's out on her usual free ranging walk. A three foot wide, twelve foot long section with gated entries on either side so I can trim Gucci's hooves or milk her. And a smaller section with a gate so I can milk the goats on their stand. The structure will have half walls, about eight feet high to keep animals out when I need them out.

The design for the cow area was gleaned from an image off of Spirited Rose Farm's website explaining how to trim a cow's hooves by hand. You can see the article and the image here. It's a simple layout. The cow is butted up next to a wall and fenced in with openings allowing the handler to reach the important parts like the udder and hooves. A feed bin can be placed at either end of the stall depending on which side of the cow the handler needs to work on. Since Gucci isn't twelve feet long, I plan to have ropes affixed to the wall that will hook to the fence right behind her butt so she won't back up. This is all well and good in theory, mind you. I still have never milked a cow in my life. I continue to labor under the delusion that Gucci is a gigantic goat.

Tuesday Manny and his grandson laid out the concrete framework. They also set in the 4x4 posts to which the fencing and gates will be affixed. The beams were concreted into the ground. They work in the cooler hours of the morning. (Today it reached over 80 degrees by 11 AM.) There is a lunch break and by then I'm off to get other work done elsewhere.

In the picture to the left, you can see the three large wood beams sticking up along the cow milking area. I had to move Gucci's corral back a ways to allow room for construction.

This morning, Manny and his grandson poured half the concrete. He explained that since this area is larger than the Veggie Shack, he is going to do the concrete in two shifts. He'll likely do the rest tomorrow morning. When I left this morning, he'd gone to eat lunch and the concrete was in. It looked pretty good to me, but he said he'd be back to smooth it out some more.

Imagine an eight foot wall on the left side of this and 2x6 fence beams across those vertical posts. Oh, and a huge cow in there happily eating grain and hay while I sit and milk her. Hopefully Gucci will like all of this!

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