Saturday, April 06, 2013

Mornings with Jody and Jenny

I don't have to milk a cow every morning.  Twice a week would keep me and Cliff in a fresh supply, and Jody's calf, Jenny, would take all the milk the rest of the time.  However, I am bottle-feeding Penny.  A sack of milk replacer (baby formula for calves) costs over forty bucks and will last a calf less than a month.  I like to feed baby calves two bottles daily for at least two months, preferably longer.  So, since I'm always up before the crack of dawn anyhow, I decided to save some money and give Penny real milk in the mornings.  Not only am I saving money, but I think calves do better on real milk.  
Let me tell you some amazing things about Jody as a milk cow, although only those who have milked a cow in the past will appreciate these virtues:  
1.  Jody has never once pooped or peed in the barn while I was milking.  If you are milking a cow, you have about a two-second notice before she poops or pees... she humps up her back.  You grab the bucket and get back quickly, because the urine splashes when it hits the floor and you don't want droplets of it on you or, more importantly, in your milk (if that happens, the milk is discarded).  In summer when a cow is eating lots of grass, poop splatters.  Plus when the cow is done evacuating her bowels, there is probably poop where you need to set down the bucket.  I know, this is probably too much information, but I wanted you to understand why I am so happy that Jody doesn't do these things.  
2.  Once Jody takes her place with her head in the stanchion, she holds her body still as a statue.  Not only does she not kick, but she does not move a foot all the time I'm milking her.  Bonnie always gets restless when her feed is gone (she's a fast eater) and starts moving around side to side; it's hard to milk a moving cow.  As you can see, I still put the anti-kick device on Jody.  It isn't necessary, but at my age I don't want to take risks.

     There she is, ready to be milked.  She isn't a huge producer, giving probably three gallons a day total.  I expect after she has her next calf she will give four gallons a day; she isn't even done growing yet.  I milk a half-gallon for Penny every day.  If we need milk, I take another half-gallon for our use.  Once I have my share, I step through the open door you see in the background, reach to the left, and slide open the door to the stall where Jenny has spent the night.  

I don't normally step in and take a picture, so this move surprised her.  

And it's breakfast time for Jenny.  I let her nurse awhile in the barn, then let Jody out of the stanchion and drive them outside.  Jenny is still nursing at this point.   

I go give Penny her bottle and, if I have milk for the house, I go strain that and put it in the refrigerator.  
Then I go out to torment Jenny while she's nursing, because I need her to be gentle.  

Jody's a rather ungainly-looking cow, being part Holstein.  Jenny has a Jersey daddy, so she will be a much prettier cow.  It seems to me she did inherit some of her mother's size, though:  She isn't two months old, and look how tall she is.  

This is Jenny's father, Garth.  

Now I handle Jenny so she will get used to humans touching her.  

I scratch her neck, rub her body, even pat around her eyes.  It's all well and good until I actually hug her neck and put my face against her; then she seems to think I'm trying to capture her.  

She'll back up, look around, and run to the other side of the cow.  Of course, I follow and start doing all the same things again.  Eventually she realizes she isn't getting any milk anyhow, and decides to go someplace where the crazy human will leave her alone.    
This is how I begin my day.  I enjoy every minute of it.  


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

That Garth certainly is a handsome looking fellow. Your mornings do start off rather nicely with your cows and calves. Can't get much better than that.

Helen said...

Jody is a good milk cow and Jenny is a beauty.

Lori said...

I enjoy reading about how you begin your day!

Margaret said...

That baby is sweet--but the milking stories terrify me. I wouldn't notice and would end up with *stuff* all over me!!

Jon said...

You've eloquently given some of the many reasons why I would never survive on a farm or a ranch. I'm not half as hardy as I pretend to be.....

The photos are great!

Penny said...

I thin my namesake is beautiful and I cherish every picture of her you post!

Blessings, Penny

Penny said...

I thin my namesake is beautiful and I cherish every picture of her you post!

Blessings, Penny


They all are so sweet with their own distinctions. I'd be worried I'd contaminate the milk.

Mrs. L said...

I loved reading this. And I learned something, too!!! Ever think about a seminar for city folk, complete with fresh milk and veggies from your garden?

Carlene Noggle said...

I love the life that you live Donna! Love all your farm animals and the good care that you make sure that they have.