Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Milking my cow

Bonnie still gives me almost a gallon out of the two teats I milk after the calf has been away from her overnight. I milk her about once every five days.
Cliff and I don't use that much milk, but I like to keep it fresh. Raw milk doesn't keep as long as pasteurized, although Bonnie's milk is still good after five days in the refrigerator.
When I first started milking her, I had to let her calf nurse on the other side while I milked because she would only "let her milk down" for her calf. Thank goodness that situation has changed, and she lets me have my share without the calf being there; he's half her size, and he vigorously butts her udder as he nurses, shoving her whole body over. That would make it difficult for me, believe it. It was bad enough when he was small.
Bonnie only gets grain on the mornings I milk, unless I want to treat her. She loves sweet feed, and when I go out to milk and enter the barn to put her feed in the stanchion, I have to lock the door behind me, or she'll push it open with her head and come right in. Even when it's locked, I hear her head-butting the door as I prepare to milk.
All my life I figured this business of only milking when I need some milk sounded good in theory, but this is the first time I have tested it. It's been perfect for us. We aren't tied down to twice-a-day milking, yet I get to enjoy my little cow and get milk when I want it. There's just something fulfilling about working together in partnership with an animal, whether it's a cow, a horse, or a dog.
Cliff was looking at Craigslist a couple of days ago and said, "Hey, there's a bred Jersey cow here for $800."
Then he read the guy's name who was selling the cow. He's a "trader" who goes to sale barns and buys the cheapest animals, keeps them until they're in better condition, puts them with a bull so they get bred, and sells them for lots more money. There's nothing wrong with that, but oftentimes there's something wrong with milk cows that have been through a sale barn... mastitis, for instance.
As long as I have Bonnie here, such ads don't interest me anyhow. All I wanted was a pretty little Jersey face around here, and one such face is enough for me. I wouldn't mind having a little heifer calf to raise, but it wouldn't have to be Jersey; Sir Loin is big enough that I could wean him and foster a smaller calf onto Bonnie. That would be fun. Unfortunately, small calves seem to be bringing more money that I'm willing to pay.
I got Bonnie to enjoy, and I certainly do enjoy her. Cliff and I both love the milk. It's been a good experience for all concerned.
Oh, by the way: the squash cake turned out fine, although it could have been a little lighter; let's face it, when you put cream cheese icing on anything, it's bound to be good. Next time I'll use that other recipe, and I'm sure it will be perfect.

4 comments:

Hollie said...

I remember Mama milking when I was a kid. Fond memories. I always enjoyed bottle feeding the calves.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

You do have a great life and know how to enjoy it all too! Do you ever skim the milk for the cream. I remember my grandma pouring that cream on my morning oatmeal and it was soooo good. Most of time she saved it for making butter. I hadn't thought about that in ages but you do bring some good memories back my way being there in the country.

m.v. said...

Read this in the Pitch this morning and put in a few comments
http://blogs.pitch.com/fatcity/2009/12/missouris_crackdown_on_raw_mil.php

Donna said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Meesha; in the morning when I'm clear-headed I may do a blog entry about this. I left them a comment of my own.