Dairy cows have been bred down through the centuries to give more milk than a calf needs. MUCH more. I happen to have a weakness for Jersey cows, so in spite of the fact that we don't need more than a half-gallon of milk each week, there are times we have a huge excess of milk.
Eventually that dairy cow's calf becomes big enough to be able to handle all the milk Mom can give, but it takes a couple of months to get them to that stage. I cannot ignore Bonnie's swollen udder knowing she will get mastitis if I don't relieve her of the excess, so I milk her once a day. Usually the calf has taken care of three of the quarters, but one hind quarter, so far, is full of milk when I go to the barn with my bucket. I get anywhere from a gallon to a gallon-and-a-half of milk. Every day.
Now, I've played around with cheese-making and cottage-cheese making. I churn butter and put it in the freezer. (As if either of us needed any of that!) I can make ice cream, but that's even worse for us, so I make it sparingly.
The three cats get a little milk, still warm from the cow. The chickens get clabbered milk, but there are only three chickens, so they can't consume much.
And then I throw milk away. Mostly I skim off the cream for butter and throw skim milk away, but it still hurts to toss it. The other day I told Cliff, "If we had a pig, I wouldn't be throwing away all this milk."
I was only talking to hear my head rattle, but he immediately started trying to figure out where we would put the pen, etc.
"I wasn't serious," I said. "We have beef that's been in the freezer for eighteen months that I'm trying to use. We certainly don't need any pork."
I'm sure he was relieved that he wouldn't be doing any pen-building any time soon. Besides, it looks like we're in for a cold winter, and somebody would have to carry water to a pig every day.
In the past we have raised pigs on excess milk mixed with wheat middlings or "shorts", a by-product of milling flour. Oh, those were some fine, tasty pigs by the time they reached two hundred pounds apiece! They would crowd, grunting and squealing, around the trough in such a manner that it was impossible not to pour the gravy-like mixture all over their heads. Pigs are fun-loving creatures that will keep you laughing; they know how to enjoy life.
I'm sure in another couple of weeks Crystal will be taking all her mother's milk, and I will then have to separate her from Bonnie overnight if I want some milk for household use. Of course, it's only a few weeks until Jody will have her calf, and I'll go through the same routine all over again.
Why? Because I love Jersey cows.