Herald and Journal, November 23, 1998

A soggy day at Finks' farm


When we went out to milk the cows last Friday morning, we had a soggy barn waiting for us.

As I opened the door and stepped inside the milkhouse, I heard the sound of running water. There was standing water on the floor, not deep but enough to make the water squish in your shoes. I fled to higher ground in the barn, leaving Tom to get the leak under control.

The automatic pipeline washer had malfunctioned and the water had been running all night. The sink with the milking machines in it had filled just fine. And it kept right on filling and filling.

The barn was not much drier than the milkhouse. There was water running into the gutter from the west side of the barn. It ran down the manger in front of the cows, along the walkway, and then into the gutter. The gutters are 18 inches deep in our barn. They were now nearly over-flowing.

One of the drinking cups three-quarters of the way down the barn was running over. By the looks of the wet feed and hay in front of the cows, it hadprobably started about the time we had left the barn the night before.

I pushed down sharply several times on the paddle that the cows nose to get a drink. The water finally stopped running.

This kind of flood will happen occasionally. We have very hard water and particles of crud will get stuck in the valve for the drinking cup. Sometimes the flow is a drip or even just a trickle. This time a steady stream ran from the drinking cup, making a soggy mess of the hay and feed in front of the cows.

By the time I turned toward the milkhouse to get the cart with the milking machines, Jesy had spied another gusher.

We have two extra tie stalls where we milk cows that have just calved. The two cows tied in there were trying to get acquainted. This sometimes involves butting and scuffling back and forth. One of them had knocked a divider pipe loose and deposited it in the drinking cup between them.

Of course, the pipe was holding down the paddle in the drinking cup. Water was running across both stalls.

I didn't really want to try tugging the pipe loose with a balky cow on either side of me. I did what I always do when confronted with a situation that requires some muscle.

I called Tom. After all, pipe straightener and cow wrestler are not in my job description.

What is that saying? When it rains, it pours. Some days it just might be a good idea to wear hip boots to the barn.

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