The time finally came when I didn't want to be tied down. Also, I went to work; it was no fun to have to milk a cow before and after work. During my cow-free years, I had a horse or two, but I was done with milking forever. We went on a few vacations.
Years went by, and from somewhere deep within me came a longing: I needed a Jersey cow in my life again. This was before I discovered Craigslist, but I was part of a country forum, "Homesteading Today". I found someone up near Richmond who had Jerseys and asked if she would consider selling me a heifer calf. I figured I'd have fun raising the calf, have her bred at the age of thirteen months or so, and once again have the fun of milking a cow. Because I've always loved cows.
"But we'll be tied down again," Cliff said. Not that he cared much, because if it was up to him he would never set foot off our land.
"No, I'll only be tied down maybe six weeks out of the year, until her calf can consume all her milk."
Cliff wasn't so sure how that would work, but I knew it would.
Unfortunately, although she came in heat regularly every three weeks, she was sterile. We called the AI man for her twice. Then we hauled her to a bull. Then we hauled her to another bull. We finally realized that she was not going to breed and got rid of her.
Before we got rid of her, though, we bought another Jersey. No more calves, I told myself. We'll get a cow that's bred so we know it isn't another sterile female.
So we were now a one-cow family, although if Bonnie had a heifer calf, I intended to keep it as a replacement in case something happened to her. An ace in the hole, so to speak. Bad things can happen to cattle, especially dairy cattle. I wanted to be prepared with a backup.
A little over a year ago, we noticed that cattle were selling high. I told Cliff, "We have hay going to waste and lots of grass; we should buy a beef cow and make some easy money."
That's when Babe, the Hereford, came on the scene, a cow I would not have to milk. Now we had female cows, but no bull.
Last September I saw some baby calves selling for a decent price on Craigslist and, because I love raising babies and couldn't resist, I bought two. Sure, there was a drought, but babies don't eat that much hay. (I guess I forgot that babies grow up.)
And that's how I ended up with more cows than our place can handle. I have two full-grown dairy cows, a five-month-old heifer that will eventually be a milk cow, and if Jody has a heifer, that's another one. Did I think I was going to start a dairy, or what?
Bonnie has a whiteface heifer that will NOT have to be milked when she's grown, but will give enough milk to raise a really nice baby. We will likely sell her at weaning time.
Folks, I've had rabbits that didn't multiply as rapidly as the cattle on this place have.
I'm going to have to sell some animals next year.
If I mention getting a bottle calf again, somebody please hog-tie me until the urge passes.
Of course, I am thinking about buying a baby calf for Jody to raise alongside her own. You know, just to take advantage of all that extra milk. There's a dairy at Higginsville selling their Holstein bull calves for a reasonable price...