For most men and boys-soon-to-be-men, long gone are the days when milking a cow was a chore as common as doing the dishes. Now mostly done by high-tech machines at commercial dairies, the task of milking a cow by hand once brought farmers and their families into close bonds with the animals that helped to feed them every day. If you’re a city dweller, it’s unlikely you’ll come across a situation that demands you milk a cow, save for some post-apocalyptic future where healthy, milk-producing dairy cows are readily available and you’re in desperate need of some ice cream. But that’s not the point. The point is, milking a cow by hand is a tradition deep-rooted in the blood of our agricultural ancestors and learning how to do it is as much about preserving that knowledge as it is about practicing it.
1: Wash your hands, then lubricate them with Vaseline or udder cream.
2: Use a warm rag to wipe off any dirt, debris, hair, or manure from the udder. Massage the udder as you clean to help relax the muscles in preparation for milking.
3: Grip the teat by placing it at the base of your thumb and forefinger.
4: Curl your fingers around the teat and squeeze it downward against the palm of your hand. Don’t pull.
5: Empty the first few ounces of milk onto the ground to get rid of any lumps or debris that have collected in the teat.
6: Begin filling a clean bucket with the milk. Use your other hand to begin milking the adjacent teat, alternating pressure between the two to maintain a steady flow.