Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dear Bossy, or How do I fit into my new moo-moo?

The last years have been traumatic ones for many reasons. I suppose it comes back to a simple thing. I decided to start freshening. Now, I'm not sure how the OED defines this, but Moomilk.com, under the topic "Dry Cow Management," offers many practical suggestions.

"Seizing control of dry cow management can pay huge dividends on most dairy farms. Significant amounts of income are lost on many farms because the incidence of periparturient disorders. These disorders can indeed be controlled and their incidence is primarily determined by the feeding and management of pre-fresh cows within the last two weeks prior to freshening.

"The first management decision of the dry period is determining when to dry a cow off. Managers should not have a single policy that applies to all cows; rather, the decision should be made on an individual cow basis.

"Heavy milkers are often allowed to milk longer, and sometimes are given only a 6 week dry period, which adversely affects production in the next lactation. It would appear that drying a cow off abruptly and dry treating all quarters gives the best results. It is important to move her out of the milking barn to a different location to speed up the dry-off procedure. She must be switched to a low-energy ration immediately, and water must occasionally be withheld to dry off high producers."

So, as you can see, if I were to freshen properly, I needed to dry off properly. And that is what I've been doing. Managing this kind of thing really does need to be done on a cow-by-cow basis. My drying off has taken longer than 6 weeks.

Sure, I admit it, I've had to be a heavy milker. I had four children and by necessity have had to milk longer. There were times during the years of getting four "cowlets" ready for school, keeping a "barn" clean, working "odd" jobs (like shoveling manure in churches) to pay bills and have at least $12.00 extra to send with the little cattle on field trips, that I actually felt I'd lost my mind--not crazy--but misplaced. But, it seemed that was the price of being a high producer in the milking barn. It was hard and I needed to dry off.

The pre-freshening procedure hasn't been so easy either. I think I've found my mind, but I'm having to fight through the periparturient diseases. Guillermo Meglia suggests watching two things, nutrition and immune response. That is correct. I have changed my nutritional input entirely. Throughout my life, I consumed regular quantities of Gospels, Pentateuch, and Epistles. Drying off has required that I cut back on that almost entirely. Instead, my intake has included ample quantities of fiction from Bronte (all three of them), to Eliot (both of them), Faulkner, Welty, Hugo (causing a near-foundering situation), Wiesel, Morrison, and Wright among others. I don't know if it's been "low-energy" nutritionally, but it has tasted a bit different.

My former diet was good, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't all. It was out of balance, good and healthy during a certain kind of lactation, but I was long overdue to dry off from it.

Having changed my diet, I had to take advantage of the shift and regulate my immune response system. There were so many old voices in my head saying the same thing over and over again, that I wanted my new diet to create a system that would generate a new voice, a more authentic voice that could say new things that formerly were not allowed or not noticed and that would protect me in a new way, from things that, at one time, I may have mistakenly thought were guarding me.

I could go on and on, but just let me say, this has been and is dangerous business. I've heard that it has a tendency to actually break down the tissue.

I'm thinking, though, hoping, that it will allow room for some authentic regeneration. And that's the point. It's not that I don't want to give milk again. It is that I want to give the stuff that does the body good. The fresh stuff.

After all this is over, I might just go out and buy myself a new moo-moo.

Regards from the barn,

Betsy

6 comments:

Conversely said...

This is, well, at times mildly disturbing. But consistently hilarious. I can't wait to hear what the cowlets have to say.

It's such a refreshing stance, too, to hear. Art has such incredible possibilities, and while it's easy for me to say that because I'm in the field you're talking about professionally, most people aren't willing to be open to them. (It's probably not fair of me to make broad generalizations about what "most" people think, but I'll do it anyway.)

I don't know if I'm making sense. Let me put it more simply: Hoorah novels! Woohoo Poetry!

Anne G G said...

The cowlets are scandalized, Mom. No, but seriously: this is a fantastic little piece of comic . . . satire? Memoir? Genius? All of those, I guess.

Confusing for a little daughter of yours to see you this way, rebelling like a teenager. Only a teenager has this disadvantage: she doesn't have the brains and life experience to be really dangerous.

I don't know if you are offended by the term "rebellion" (or maybe by the term "teenager"), but I want you to know, I'm proud of this maternal rebellion. Or, maybe the right word is "crusade," as you've used it in other posts.

brd said...

Mildly disturbing, I guess. Rebellious? Do you have to ask? But since when has any mid-fifties person ever been offended by being compared to a teenager!

You bet I'm a mad cow!

missd said...

hah! i'm so glad you found me! this is great--has the great Dr. made himself a site yet?

how are you?

Anne G G said...

Joke from the movie "Prairie Home Companion":

Why do they call it PMS?

Because Mad Cow was already taken.

brd said...

Smile!