Friday, May 20, 2011

Udderly Conflicted

The Pros:

  • Unlimited fresh milk
  • Homemade cheeses of many kinds
  • Homemade yogurt
  • Grass fed, 'organic' butter, full of activator X and more
  • Cream, and it's variations (i.e. "ice")
  • Offspring to raise as beef, or to sell

The Cons:

  • No more overnight trips for at least 9 months
  • No late nights at BBQs, church, holidays
  • Not entirely ready; need to evict relocate chickens, clean out shed, finish fence, etc.
  • I've never delivered livestock, and might not know if help is needed when she calves
  • I'm anything but experienced with milking, and pretty much don't know what I'm doing with any of it
  • There's so much to know about nutritional needs at freshening, during lactation, etc. and I'm not sure I can figure it out
  • I'd like to go grass-only (or nearly so), but there's not a lot of 'how-to' literature about that; providing her with less feed can be problematic for milk production, and her body (bred for high production, her body will 'use up' for milk if the calories [grain] is lacking)
  • I'm kindof in this "on my own." I don't have a 'backup' person or friend (that I know of, anyway) who could take care of things if I were very sick, or had a funeral to go to, etc...
  • To get all 'the pros' I might spend every waking moment in the kitchen, letting the house, garden, and children fall away in the process!

She's for sale. Getting her is possible. Am I ready? Is this the right thing to do? Are we prepared for the work and lifestyle she will require? Are we equipped to take proper care of her?

So many questions, and no certain answers...

**She is jersey, or jersey-crossed-with-something, more likely. 


Fatima said...

Oh! I wish we were neighbors. I'd go in with you for a shared adventure/work! Wonder if anyone else in your area would be willing to partner with you... Might be nice to share milk in trade for help on occasions so you can go out of town, etc.
I have heard of folks milking in the morning, then letting the calf nurse all day, then putting the calf up in the evening (away from momma cow). Might be nice to not need milk replacer for calf and save one milking per day. Probably provide enough milk for one family's needs, too.
I wonder how the old-timers did it. Bet they didn't have a feed store selling milk replacer.

EllaJac said...

Oh Fatima, I've tried for YEARS to find someone to move nearby for just this purpose. :D

Actually, in a burst of inspiration, I DID go visit my friend who had the cow we used to get milk from. I proposed the possibility of keeping my cow at her place (more infrastructure in place) and 'sharing' it with me, as well as the milk. She seemed very amenable to it, at least through summer (my grandma out of state is 93 now, and not expected to live much longer. I'll be needing to make a trip at some point shortly...).

That said, I've been praying and praying, and as much as my *mind* says this seems like a good a cow as any, for some reason I feel hesitant to pursue it. We'll see what happens, or if there's another cow out there for us somewhere...

sariah said...

Over the years I've thought about it and it seems it'd be best to have 3 or 4 families share a cow! (Jersey's probably don't give enough for that many families, but I would want their richer milk) Our life is so hectic that we're gone 3 or 4 nights a week. But I could milk once or twice a week. ha ha. How uncommitted is that? So that's why I can't forsee us taking the milk cow plunge.

Did you see my post about that time we milked for our friend when she went camping? It was pretty wild. Her calf was scared of us and jumped into the neighboring pasture and it took quite a while to get it back. Then because we're such newbies it was taking quite awhile to milk and finally she just decided she was DONE. When a huge animal decides something, it's hard to argue! :-) I did make homemade ice cream with some of the milk. Yum!