Sunday, October 19, 2014
Let me introduce you to Gypsy
Grace had no problem calving, although it was raining that day, so the poor calf was coated with mud shortly after her birth.
And then it was time to milk. It's never fun to milk a cow for the first time; she doesn't understand what you are doing. Even though I have handled Grace's udder from the time I brought her home as a three-day-old, it's totally different when somebody actually grabs onto a teat and start squeezing. The first time was difficult. The second milking was better, and the last two times I've milked her, she has stood nicely without stepping around at all. I will always put the anti-kick thing on her, no matter how well she behaves. I'm too old to run any risk of getting kicked.
This cow is going to be a fairly heavy milker for a family cow, so we are going to a local dairy tomorrow to pick up a bull calf. We could have gotten one $75 cheaper by driving down near Branson, but by the time you figure in the cost of gas as well as a boring drive along a route we just traveled a couple of weeks ago, it just wasn't worth it.
I don't know if Grace will take the Holstein calf willingly at this point. If we had gotten a calf the first day she calved, she might have accepted it. We'll just have to see how it goes. The worst-case scenario is that I keep the two calves away from her overnight, let her in the following morning, put her in the stanchion and put the anti-kick device on her, and let the calves have at it, one on each side, at the same time. I think if I did that for a few days, she would end up accepting the Holstein as her own. A couple of months ago we actually had to sell a six-month-old steer because he was nursing her (not getting any milk, but bottle calves often become problem suckers... sort of like some babies are with pacifiers). We even put a thing in his nose that would prick her when he tried to nurse, but he found out that if he was gentle about it, he could still nurse, and she allowed it. However, she didn't have a calf at the time, so her behavior might be different now that she's a mother.
So, FINALLY, we have a cow who apparently will be easy to milk: She is standing still for me; she "lets down" her milk quickly, and the milk comes out fast; her teats are bigger than most dairy cows these days, so I can actually milk with my whole hand instead of finger-and-thumb. I haven't saved any milk for the house yet, so I don't know what sort of cream content the milk has, or if the cream will be yellow like that of Jersey or light-colored like that of a Holstein. I'll probably save some tonight, and we'll find out in the morning.
I realize this information falls under the "I-couldn't-care-less" category for most of my readers, but I'll try to make up for this by getting some cute videos and pictures of calves playing before long. Gypsy has a quite unique personality. While I milked this morning, she was dancing all around me trying to get me to play with her. Funny stuff. She is sure to have a ball with her new "adopted" brother.