Farm Horizons, September 1998

The one and only milk machine

By MYRON HEUER

Since I live in Wisconsin, land of cows, it was bound to happen. I have an interesting story about cows I found the other day.

"A cow should be called a milk machine. After all, isn't a cow really an automatic manufacturing machine mounted on four vertical, movable supports?

These supports should be equipped with safety-tread hoof boots for walking on icy cow yards. By eliminating springs, the supports might be safer for the machine operator because they would not kick. (If you have a model with springs, consider talking with OSHA about getting the engineers to change that.)

The front end of the machine has a cutting and grinding mechanism and a pair of headlights, air inlet and exhaust, a bumper and foghorn. The rear of the machine has the dispensing apparatus known as the udder.

It could have been attached up front away from the tail, and it should probably have been equipped with some sort of gauge so the machine operator would know when it is empty. Standard on most machines is a four-spigot unit that dispenses a naturally produced, calcium-rich, high-protein, low-cost, consumer-friendly beverage.

In the center of the machine is a hydro-chemical conversion plant. This consists of four fermentation and storage tanks, connected in a series by an intricate network of flexible tubing. This section also has a heating plant complete with automatic temperature controls, a pumping station and main ventilation unit.

Engineers are considering redesigning this portion of the machine since some feel just one storage tank is enough. Also the machine could be a little more environmentally friendly.

There are those who feel that these machines are producing methane that allegedly messes up the atmosphere. Maybe by installing a combination food-intake device and frontal belch-control system with massive catalytic converter and exhaust scrubbers (to protect the earth's ozone layer) we could satisfy the EPA.

The waste disposal apparatus is at the rear of this central section. The state DNR is working on a better system, but hasn't come up with one yet. A petroleum free, organic-solids by-product recycling system might help.

The non-toxic, pesticide-free automatic insect repeller at the rear of the machine has met the approval of the EPA and the DNR, but machine operators say it should be made with a softer material, something that doesn't sting quite as much when it hits against the machine operator, and one that doesn't hang in the gutter, thereby spreading waste material across the back of the machine operator's neck.

The milk machine is designed with two ears, but since machines don't listen to instruction anyway, one ear would be sufficient. All it's really used for is to hold the identification number.

The entire machine is encased in an untanned leather cover. To satisfy animal rights activists, it is a biodegradable, cornstarch-based overcoat for winter protection. Combination earmuffs are optional for cold weather, and radio earphones for listening to music which reduces stress on the machine.

Caution: Do not tune the radio to rock 'n' roll as this tends to sour the milk. Most machines prefer Strauss waltzes, which you can't find on the radio. Rush Limbaugh also upsets the machine. Forget about the radio . . . get a CD.

Also optional is an udderly soft, water repellent designer bra for winter comfort. Another option is a miniature satellite uplink to track the machine's location on the farm."

I don't know who the author is of the piece, but he sure knows his cows. One final note that is shocking. Last June, right in the middle of "Dairy Month," the announcement was made that California, of all places, has 2,000 more cows than Wisconsin!

What will we put on the license plate now?

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