Terri (Kohnen) Fleischhacker is expecting her fourth child in a couple days, and sheís expecting not to miss more than a couple days of milking.
For her previous three pregnancies, Terri milked at night and went into the hospital the next morning. A day or so later, she was back milking and the infant was right with her, loaded in a car seat and riding around in a wheel barrow.
While pregnant with her first child, her doctor told her to keep milking as long as it agreed with her. So she did.
ďI like to get right back into it,Ē she explained. ďThe cows are used to me milking them. Theyíre spoiled.Ē
ďThey can tell when a stranger is around.Ē
Terri has been milking the cows for 10 years, since her junior year in high school. The only recent exceptions were in 1993 after the birth of her son, Trevor, when she had a neck injury and last winter when she visited her folks for a week while they wintered in Arizona. During those absences, her sister Karen and brother James handled the milking chores.
Terri milks 81 cows in a stantion and tie stall barn. She bends over to wash the udders and to stick on the milkers. Additionally, she claims to still climb the silos.
Terriís family has owned the farm north of Roscoe for 26 years. Her father and her brothers do the field work in the summer and help with barn chores if needed. Her brother Bob cleans the barn every morning before opening his shop in Roscoe, and her brother Don is usually around the farm repairing combines and can help fix things. Her mother cares for the calves in the summer months, and her sister Karen helps feed the cows year-round. Her husband Glen helps milk on the weekends.
Currently, she and her parents operate the farm in partnership.
Terri and her husband live between St. Martin and Freeport with Kayla (7), Trevor (5), and Ashley (3). She drives to Roscoe to milk, and he works in Melrose.
Terri has arranged her milking schedule to maximize her time with her family. Now she milks at 1 a.m. and 1 p.m. That way she can be at home in the morning and get her two oldest kids off to school. She likes to minimize daycare. ďI just like having them with me more,Ē she said.
Kayla comes with her to milk in the afternoon and is starting to help.
At night, Terri feeds and milks alone. The cows expect her now. ďThe minute they hear the door slam theyíre up and moving around,Ē she said. ďThey know when youíre late.Ē
Most times itís very quiet. ďI enjoy the middle of the night,Ē she said. ďItís peaceful. Nobody running around.Ē
Terri thinks the barn has had only positive effects on her kids. She attributes no illnesses, no ear infections, and no accidents to the surroundings. Her kids have required stitches only for mishaps in other places, none from the barn.
Plus, they learn about responsibility, work, and death. They see dying calves, and this gives Terri a powerful tool in warning about the gutter, PTOs and chains.
In high school, Terri dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. She has a chance to do some of that work now, handling artificial breeding, dehorning, castrating, and calf pulling herself. In fact, a heifer is almost ready. ďOne is getting awful close,Ē she said. ďIím having a race with her to see who (delivers first).Ē
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