When you have three hundred cows that have to be milked twice a day, you have to be organized. It helps to have the cows trained too. The milk barn has to be kept clean for that is where the milk is collected from the cows. You don’t want cows dropping a pie when they are being milked. So cows go into training to learn to drop their load in the waiting area prior to going into the barn to be relieved of their heavy milk load. Yes, the cows like being milked because it can get painful if they are overfull.
The waiting area is a large cement slab inside of a corral. At my ranch it was referred to as the “Honey” corral. As you can imagine three hundred cows being trained to drop their pies before going into the milk barn. The “Honey” gets pretty deep. This corral has to be cleaned up each day. The “Honey” is scooped up and put into the “Honey” wagon, and the cement is washed down and the washings drain into the “Honey” pit.
There is money in “Honey”. Once it is composted, it can be sold to farmers, ranchers, and even Wal-Mart as fertilizer. So each day the honey wagon is taken by tractor out to the…You guessed it—The “Honey” pile. This pile grows into a hill very quickly, but the fresh “Honey” has to be spread over a dry spot on the hill to keep the composting process rolling. Therefore, the “Honey” wagon is driven up the honey pile to a dry place, and the “Honey” is dumped. Usually, the previous day’s “Honey” has formed a crust, which allows the tractor and trailer to go up the hill without sliding down.
My first job as a cowboy was to keep the “Honey” corral clean. I needed to be shown the ropes, and it was the first time I had ever driven a tractor. My on the job trainer rode out with me on the tractor to show me where and how to dump the “Honey”. I had to go near the top of the pile to find a place to drop. My trainer got off the tractor and walked around to lower the tailgate of the trailer. He signaled me to drive forward, and in doing so, I took my foot of the brake and began to let the clutch out. This caused the trailer to roll backwards. The motion caught him off guard and knocked him down the hill. His landing made a perfect snow angel in the manure. This was short lived because I hit the break which caused the “Honey” in the wagon to shift backwards and dump out of the trailer. You guessed it, it buried him.
I could tell he was not hurt, because he came up out of the honey swearing. You would think I got fired, but I didn’t. Now I laugh when ever I see a snow angel.
More to come…