Modern technology is killing me
Modern technology has it in for me. In fact, I think it’s trying to kill me. I’m not referring to the little radioactive waves that are likely emanating from my cell phone while I talk on it, or are wafting over my face while I sleep because I left my phone on my bedside table. No, my grey matter is still intact (ish) and unaffected, to the best of my knowledge. It’s the rest of my body that’s taking a beating from all things new-fangled.
At the risk of sounding like an old, old person who has nothing better to talk about, I’m going to list my complaints. Cracked ribs. Sore lungs. A hip that’s out of whack, and something tendon-y going wrong in my right foot. All bent out of shape because of gadgets and machines. Allow me to, again, be like an old person, and elaborate.
I live on a dairy farm just outside of Uxbridge. Said farm looks after in excess of 450 Holstein cattle on any given day. Because of this huge number, and because of increased milk quotas and a bunch of other industry stuff that I don’t try to understand, a spiffy new barn the size of a football field was put up last summer and fall on our farm. It is white, it is glossy – it has 200 plus cows in it and smells nice. Two robots have quietly taken over the milking of these cows (the effect that technology has had on the farmers is fodder for another column), and the whole operation is as up-to-date and shiny as you can get. But it’s still trying to kill me.
In the old barn, in the old milkhouse, now sits the old milk tank. That milk tank and I were friends. If we were out of milk at the house, any one of us could run up to the milk house, just a few hundred metres away, and quickly unscrew the cap located at the bottom of the tank, place our milk jug just beneath the spout, slowly pull a metal spigot, and fresh, cold, whole, delicious milk would spill into the container. Close off the spigot, hose off any drips, replace the cap, and we were on our way, tripping back to the house with a container of white wonderfulness.
Now, now everything has changed. I woefully pass by the old milk house on my way to get milk from the glossy new barn, the barn that is trying to do me in. I mourn the good ol’ days as I plod on, milk jug in hand. The new barn is at least 100 kms further away from the house than the old barn is. Ok, fine, only 150 metres or so, but it’s been a cold winter, so one metre, one kilometre, it’s all the same. I’ve stumbled and fallen on the slippery driveway, causing bruising in unpleasant spots. I accidently kicked a hidden stone once, causing the tendon-y achy thing in my foot. I do try to enjoy the journey as much as my dog, Bella, but she likes the new barn far more than I.
Now, I step inside the shiny, new milk house, wherein is housed a tank so large it sits in two separate rooms. In this milk house, a wall-mounted computer proudly, constantly and loudly displays the current temperature of the tank. Hoses and tubes and gadgets of all sorts hang off the bottom of the tank, resembling two or three octopuses that can’t untangle themselves. There is no cap. No spigot. Nowhere to gain access to the precious liquid inside. Ah, but wait. A ladder climbs up the end of the tank, leading to the only darned place anyone can get at the milk. A man-hole sized door held down by a latch, lined with a rubber O-ring that isn’t attached to anything at all. Climb the ladder, undo the latch, carefully slide the cover off to the side, don’t let the O-ring fall in (seriously, don’t. It sinks like a stone and ends up at the other end of the tank and your husband has to partially undress and go in when the tank is empty and fish it out, and you have to face the family afterward. It isn’t pretty). If all is good so far, let down your milk jug by the rope that is attached to it, and try to keep it in sight as it descends into milky whiteness. Wait till it fills up to the desired amount, and lift it carefully out of the tank again. Set the jug precariously on the edge while replacing the O-ring and the metal man-hole cover. Descend the ladder, clean up any and all drips and drops, and leave everything just as pristine as you found it.
It all sounds fairly easy, how can it be the least bit dangerous, you ask? Well, one of the first times we tried collecting milk from the new tank, the milk level wasn’t high enough, and I leaned in through the large hole all the wrong way and wound up cracking two ribs and bruising all around. Climbing down the ladder, I missed a step and knocked a hip wonky. That was before Christmas – the hip is mended but I still can’t take a deep breath or go in for a bear hug. Getting milk has become a solitary expedition for me (besides the dog) – no one else dares.
I think that, if I tread carefully in this new world and talk really nicely to all the machines and robots and tanks and tubes, if I proceed with caution, I may be ok. I refuse to live on a dairy farm and pay for milk (before anyone writes letters, we are allowed to drink our own milk). Yes, pride put me in the position I am in. It may yet kill me, but for now, I think I’ll milk it for all it’s worth.