The story of Cliffy Young has just finished on the tele but Wayne is still slogging through his own ultra-marathon at the dairy. It’s 10pm and it’s been a tough day that started at 5am.
As I was rattling the kids around the house in readiness for Nippers this morning, Wayne was having some youngster trouble of his own. A freshly-calved heifer simply sat down on the milking platform behind her neighbour. Now, if you’ve worked in or watched a herringbone dairy in action, you’ll say that doesn’t happen.
The cows are lined up at right angles to the pit we stand in to position the cups, with their buttocks against a “bum rail” that’s designed to guide them into position for milking and prevent a cow from falling onto a milk maid.
A cow spooked by her reclining sister leapt up and backwards, falling rear-first into the pit, brushing Wayne’s cheek with her hoof on the way down as a weld in the bum rail gave way under the strain of this 550kg crowd-surfer. Thankfully, Wayne and the two cows-a-leaping are fine but the machinery was not. With four machines out and the broken bum-rail, milking took hours longer than normal and the clean-up and repair job was a 6-hour undertaking.
I’m really grateful to Clarkie, who broke his long weekend to come and help wield a welding stick, feed the cows and round up at 6pm.
Wayne will up again at 5am tomorrow. It’s 10.30pm now and, finally, the dairy lights have gone out. What will tomorrow bring, I wonder?