Friday, February 28, 2014

Setbacks: A Part of Life and a Time for Growth

I experienced a pretty big setback milking Bridget today. She would NOT behave. Like, at all.

First, the girl refused to budge from her paddock. I had to drag and drive her the whole way. I finally got her to my make-shift hand-milking station, and she refused to stay still. She moved forwards, then backwards, then sideways, then forwards, and so on. I barely got any milk out of her. She paused for maybe a minute to munch some hay, then starting throwing her little tantrum again.

So, I brought her back to the paddock (with all kinds of pulling, prodding, and poking) and took care of some other chores for about 15 minutes. I tried again from the top. Same story.

I put her (most unwillingly) back in the paddock again. Then I did some more chores until I was just about done.I tried one last time. She stood a bit more still, but wouldn't let down. I got her to stand still for about 5 minutes, but she dried herself up completely. Since Tuesday's haul of our first milk, this was our worst milk day. By a lot.

Wife told me that Bridget won. I knew it, but I didn't want to admit it. But Wife is always right.

Bridget and Brisket the Jersey cows
Misbehaved and still got her calf back. Yup. I lost today.

She's certainly gotten used to our little routine of me milking for a bit, then her being reunited to her baby for him to clear her out. She's humoring me at best, and battling wills (and winning) at worst.

So yes - big setback this morning.

As I stewed at my desk for a few hours, I came to gradually realize that this is an opportunity for personal growth. Our priest this past week said that we should thank God when there is a person who drives us absolutely nuts in our lives, as that person will help make us holy. He even talked about how St. Benedict encouraged abbots to find such a person, one who drove the entire monastic community batty, specifically to make the community holier.

Bridget must be sanctifying me like gangbusters right now. I guess St. Brigid of Kildare is really praying for me.

So, this setback is definitely an opportunity to grow. I can grow in patience, grow in perseverance, grow in discipline, and grow in general holiness through adversity. This will be a good thing for me. I need to redouble my efforts in training her, evaluate myself critically at what I can do better, and take action.

This a really good thing, because I think in all the bovine craziness that's swept the homestead, I've forgotten my main goals for the year:

Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you. –Matthew 6:33

Ultimately, Bridget will need to be trained to a new routine, and in just over a week's time, Brisket will be weaned cold-turkey. Until that happens, I need to reassert myself as "alpha" while at the same time not losing sight of the target.

And for me, the target is growing holier while and through homesteading.


  1. Bridget looks very hungry, by the concave indentation between her ribs and her back leg. Maybe your paddock isn't providing enough food? Does she get free choice hay in addition to the paddock? Does she get free choice minerals?


  3. Thanks for the concern. Yes, I add LOTS of hay throughout the day. There are constantly at least 3 very large piles, free choice, 24/7, plus 2 full water tanks. The Jersey breed is particularly known for their bony structure, so while they do LOOK underfed, she is actually in great condition. The "standard" is 2.5 to 4 ribs visible, and a full, round underbelly. She has 3 visible, and is quite solid underneath.

  4. Based on this chart, I'd rate her about a 4: