Jan. 11 2024 10:31 AM

We are dealing with raccoons impacting our ability to milk our cows.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve used this blog to rant and explain all the things going on in the everyday life I live and love here on my dairy. It has helped me be able to express myself and allows me to share my stories and adventures with generations both old and young. It’s been a truly beneficial experience, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity. As 2024 is just starting, I plan to continue to tell stories but also catalog how things are ever changing here on the home farm. This year, there will be the usual bad and good moments as well as new endeavors out there waiting for us. I’m excited to bring y’all along with me to share in the new adventure that await!

Now, back to the story. In the last week or so, we have been coming into the parlor in the mornings to find the dip cups have holes chewed in them. With the first one, we thought it was just old, fell, and busted. Then when we found the second, we noticed the bite mark in the side of the cup. After a third dip cup showed up this way, we realized that raccoons were visiting in the evenings and chewing holes in them. So, we decided it was time to start locking the dip cups up at night in the storage room. To put things into context, we use an iodine glycerin post dip. We usually clean out the dip cups and leave them in the parlor consistently.

Now, dip cups aren’t inexpensive, but they aren’t a major expense, either. We all just laughed about the minor inconvenience. However, two days after removing the dip cups at night, the raccoons struck again. This time, it impaired our ability to wash the parlor and milk the cows until we could come up with a solution and acquire minor pieces of equipment you would never think would impair an entire milking system.

Two days prior to removing the dip cups, we came in to find the parlor hose with teeth marks through it and water everywhere. That morning when I went to turn the pump on to start milking, air was screaming out of an open hole where they had removed the plug. They had taken the rubber plug and chewed it to the point where I had to make an emergency call in order to even consider milking.

After all of that, the war has begun. Traps are being set. Doors are being reinforced. Hopefully, the war will end in peace, but time will tell as we venture into new territory. They’ve never been an issue before, but these two last incidents were expensive and time consuming. Now we wait. Stay safe y’all.

Courtney Henderson

The author is a sixth-generation farmer and fifth-generation dairy producer in southwest Virginia, where she and her family own and operate a 145-head Holstein dairy. Courtney is involved in agriculture organizations throughout her community and is a graduate of Virginia Tech.