After the spring sale of the young sheep the rest are grazing all around the place. They have a fenced roundup area which has to be moved periodically so that the ground does not get overcome with their urine and manure (just the right amount means it will flourish like crazy next year) … and they moved it right next to our place so one evening I went out to see their milking … it’s done twice a day 6am and 6pm. First the sheep are brough into the fenced area:
The guy carrying the stick is the shepherd (Choban in Romanian). He seems slightly drunk most of the day and very drunk at other parts of the day. This is what he does. He gets paid per season (essentially a year, though he typically has the winter months “off”) per head.
There are still a few suckling youngsters in the herd:
The milking process is efficiently executed using a smaller separate enclosure. They try to herd into it only those sheep that need to be milked though a few others slip in too and skipped (it is important not to miss any of those that do need to be milked). Ricky always gets very excited when sheep are herded and always wants in on the action … though not always useful:
Once all the sheep-to-be-milked have been collected into the separate fenced area it is closed off
And then their only way out is through the milking station which stands between them and “freedom”
Hand are washed (the two guys on the right are the owners of the herd and the one on the left is the shepherd)
And the sheep start flowing through. Notice that the shepherd is taking his time … he will start after the other two and his milking pot will be filled when the other two are only half full … he’s the professional in the group
You have to be alert, the sheep are happy to just run through to their freedom without being milked. They are usually caught by the tale or a hind leg
And milked. There’s isn’t much milk in a sheep … they milk ~130 sheep and will have a yield of about 40-50 liters total … these are grass-and-weeds-fed-only animals. I asked but my Romanian is not good enough to receive an explanation of the purpose of the cup hanging in the milking pot.
On the other side of the wall the sheep are so crowded that they are practially lined up to pass through
Though there is a guy with a stick to prod and remind them and keep them packed against the two-passages. He can be (too!) fierce.
And all three are in full-milking mode
Clean shoes are awaiting their owner
Knees are used to keep keen sheep from passing through before they are invited in.
Beer is VERY big in Romanian villages … almost everybody drinks .. alot
But when you are the guy with the stick … you have to stay on the job otherwise
When the milking pots are filled the process is paused and the milk is transferred into large (25 liter) aluminum containers
And the guy with the stick gets “busy” as fewer sheep are left:
And this happens twice a day
Hands are washed
The pots are also washed and the milky-water is given to the dogs who happily make it disappear really fast
Some males showing off males
Some of the milk goes to personal consumption (including ours) and the rest is sold (via collection trucks) to one of the large national dairy-producers. There are other flocks whos milk is processed into cheese products. The milk containers fit perfectly into the trunk of an old Dacia … as if its trunk was designed FOR the milk containers. The Dacia needs to push-(as in by people)-started