It was pop quiz Friday. The topic? Would Desi follow me into the milk parlor without the lead rope? It was a chance to see how well I had done this week getting her back into the milking routine.
Just as I expected, Monday morning was a tad rough; i.e. Desi tried to yank my arm off as I led her into the parlor. She didn’t yank out of fear –1300 lb. tanks aren’t afraid of much – but, I’d say, out of a “what do you think you’re doing?” attitude. I couldn’t blame her as we hadn’t done this in months. I held my ground and sure enough her attitude quickly gave way to the reliable marshmallowy softness we love about her.
Through the rest of the week Desi was a dream and our teamwork was paying off to the tune of a little under half a gallon of milk each day. But something else was giving me fits: the only cotton-pickin’ tool I use for chores - the lead rope. One time I got it stuck on Desi’s hump as she was spinning to sniff her calf. Another time I dropped my end and let it wrap around her foot. Yeah, that made her happy. These were no more than minor annoyances that interrupted the flow of the routine, but flow is a big thing for many reasons (more on that in a future post). Suffice it to say, big animals need to know what’s next.
But the worst rope malfunction happened this morning. Desi was impatient for the grain I had just poured at the far end of the milk parlor and was annoyed when I couldn’t untie the knot I had used to briefly tie her up. Did I mention flow being a big thing? The longer I fiddled, the more aware she became that something wasn’t going to plan.
As Desi paced and gave me a stink eye, I lost my own patience and decided to simply unclasp the rope from her halter (knots are always easier to mess with when there’s not a hungry camel breathing down your neck). But at that moment I opted to find out what would happen if I walked her in without the rope at all? To my delight, as soon as she recognized a familiar part of the plan her kind disposition immediately prevailed again. She strolled into the parlor, scooted into the stanchion, and dove straight into her grain.
I suppose this means we are officially back in routine.