My first blog post ever

Hey friends and soon to be friends. I am super excited to share my exciting new venture and adventures with you. My birthday is in December and every year, my husband (Paul) and children (Alexander and Bailey) start to ask me what I want for my birthday and for Christmas. As I have gotten older, I have come to the realization that I don’t want stuff….I want memories.
With birthday 51 just completed, I was thinking about the second half of my life. Paul and I are basically empty nesters now. As this empty nest realization really sunk in, I concluded I want this second act of my life to be filled with just as much excitement, joy and wonder as the first 50. In theory we should have more free time, so why not take that free time and do something really cool with it.
The idea came to me to celebrate the year I turn 52 with doing 52 things I have never done before. I have been tossing this idea around in my head for about two years and I like the symmetry of 52 weeks in the year with my 52nd birthday in December of 2018.
I brainstormed with a few close friends, and have a partial list of things I would like to do. Now obviously, I am not a Kardashian so this list is a list of things a reasonable person can afford to do. I do have a job so I can’t travel the world all year. I also have bills to pay so I can’t do 52 exotic, expensive adventures. My list includes some things that are more “out there” but it includes many local things have just never taken the time to do. Here is a small sample of things on my list, so you have an idea of the variety and scale of my project.
• Acupuncture
• Take a tap dance class
• The Kentucky Bourbon Tour
• Spend the night in the woods all by myself
• Sing karaoke in public
• Visit a new state
• Learn to surf
• Donate plasma
As you can see, some things on the list can be done locally and only require a few hours, like acupuncture or a tap dance class. Some will take a day or a weekend, like the Bourbon Tour or a night in the woods alone. Some items on the list require courage (or maybe liquid courage) like singing in public. Some take some planning, time and money, like taking a vacation to a new state or learning to surf. Many items on the list are for my own personal pleasure, but some are acts that serve others, like donating plasma.
I hope this short list gives you an idea of where I am going with this blog. Stay tuned for my next blog for a more complete list. I hope you will join me as I do some fun stuff, learn more about myself and my community, and keep my brain and body active for the next phase of my life.

Let’s see what I can do in and at 52!


8 Maids a Milking

my cow friends
My cow friends

The idea of milking a cow as one of my “52 To Do” came as a suggestion after my first blog post.  My friend Donna Hurm suggested it and I loved the idea.   As I child I was obsessed with the Little House on the Prairie books.  I fantasized about being Laura Ingalls Wilder, growing up on the prairie and drinking fresh milk from our family cow.  There are several flaws in this logic.  Number 1, I am lactose intolerant. Number 2, I am not really that fond of physical labor or early mornings… but I digress.

Donna not only offered up the idea, but suggested the farm of her cousins, the Rexings, as a place we could do the milking.  A few weeks before the visit, someone asked me about upcoming activities on the list.  My nephew Colin and niece Emery immediately chimed in that he wanted to milk a cow.  A few days after that, my niece Megan shared that this was on her bucket list.  So, with 8 of us in a caravan, we headed to the northwest side of Evansville to milk a cow.

donna hurm and kerrie
Kerrie and Donna Hurm, the lady with the brilliant idea to milk a cow. So fun!

The Rexing dairy farm milks 70 cows, twice daily.  Thanks to automation, the process takes about 90 minutes each time.  If done by hand, it would take hours.  The process was amazing to me.  The doors to the milking area open and a group of cows slowly ambles to the next available milking station.  I am guessing there are about 8 cows at a time.  Udders (most cows have 4) are cleaned by hand twice before milking begins.  The automatic milking machine is attached to the udders and the milking process begins.  The machine self-releases when the milk flow drops below a certain level. Workers then apply a liquid to the udders to prevent infection.  When the last cow in the group finishes, the doors to the outside open, and the cows calmly walk back out to the field. The milk is piped from the milking station to a holding tank where it is stored and cooled.  I think it takes about 7 minutes for each cow to finish.


I was able to assist with each of the steps I just described AND to milk a cow by hand.  Gary and Don Rexing estimate it would take at least 20 minutes to milk a cow by hand.  I probably tried hand-milking for a minute.  I didn’t want to waste the milk and I also didn’t want the cow to have to wait for the milking.  (Moms who have nursed their babies, I think you get what I am saying!)  I suspect trying to get 5 gallons by hand would have left me with screaming forearms.  When the cows arrive at the milking station, their udders are sort of solid.  I would equate it to a sand bag??  When they are finished, their udders are soft and droopy? I know these are terrible descriptions.  I wish I had better words but let me tell you, it was SUPER interesting.


Don and Gary Rexing with Kerrie
Gary and Don Rexing, the super generous and patient farmers who let us participate in milking.

I learned so many interesting facts:

  • Milk comes out of the cow at just over 100 degrees. They want it cooled to the mid 30’s in under two hours.
  • Each cow produces between 9-10 gallons of milk per day.
  • Cows eat about 90 pounds of food/day. Most of the food the Rexing cows eat was grown on their grain farm.
  • The Rexings operate the dairy operation almost exclusively using solar power.
  • Cows are bred to compensate for any weaknesses in the parents and take full advantage of their strengths. A breeder evaluates each animal (cows and bulls) on about 70 qualities.  He then looks for traits that match the qualities that help produce the best offspring.  All “mating” is insemination.  There is no cow hanky panky going on. (Note from the editor/Paul.  I think she means Cow/Bull hanky panky.  Kerrie must have been sick the day they covered this in health class.)

I can’t begin to tell you how much I LOVED this “to do” and how much I appreciate the idea from Donna and the time and friendliness of Gary Rexing and Don Rexing.  They were so patient with our many questions.   I believe it is important to understand where our food comes from.  Milk doesn’t grow in gallon containers, it comes from a living animal and from hard working farmers.  It was so interesting and eye opening to better understand the process.  And, it was udderly fun!!

While I don’t think my words can adequately describe the excitement I experienced, I hope the photos and videos give you better view into the joy.

megan and friend
I think Megan was even more excited than I was about this adventure.
colin checking out the storage tank
Colin checking out the storage tank
Emery and Paul miling a cow
Emery and Paul doing the milking