Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The land of milk...

I milk every five to seven days, leaving the calves to eat grain for that meal.  And believe me, when they are hungry, they can eat large quantities of calf starter!  If I wanted to, I could just milk out a gallon or so and let the calves finish for me, but I like seeing how much cream the cow puts on a gallon of milk, and a lot of the cream is in the "strippin's" as my dad used to say.  What that means is that the milk you squeeze out at the end of the milking procedure has a higher content of cream that the rest.  

Do I need the cream?  Nope.  Do I need two gallons of milk every week?  Nope.  It's just that years of having milk cows makes me want to know how much a dairy cow is giving.  Here's what I brought in this morning:

Two gallons and a little over a pint.  If I needed more milk today, she would give me the same amount this evening.  That is a lot of milk in one day for a family milk cow to give, and Gracie has one light quarter (it doesn't produce much milk) because a steer was nursing on her before she ever had a calf.  We sold him when we caught him in the act, but he had already done the damage.  Actually, it's all I can do to lift the bucket high enough to get the milk in the strainer as it is, so maybe it's a good thing she has a light quarter.  In fact, I don't think the bucket could hold all the milk if all four quarters were normal.  

a champion Holstein cow

The amazing thing is that there are Holsteins on dairy farms that easily give twice this much milk.  "Holstein cows give more milk than any other dairy breed in the U.S. The average Holstein cow produces around 23,000 pounds of milk, or 2,674 gallons, of milk each lactation. With a standard lactation lasting 305 days, that comes out to 75 pounds, or almost 9 gallons of milk per cow per day."

If I had the inclination, this would be a good time to try some cheese-making.  I even have the cultures on hand to do so, from experimentation a couple of years ago.  Somehow, with a baby around the house and pesky knees, it just seems like too much trouble.  

There is no way we will even consume one gallon of milk this week, let alone two, unless I make potato soup or something like that.  The rest of the milk will be set out on the counter in a few days to clabber (sour and thicken) for the chickens.  

Here's what it boils down to:  Having milked cows for most of my married life, it just seems like I need a dairy cow around.  I enjoy the interaction with a cow.  I'm happier with a Jersey cow around.  Gracie is only part Jersey, but she will do.  


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

She is a wonderful cow. You are blessed to have all that good cream and milk. One way or the other it doesn't go to waste at your house. Even the chickens get to benefit from it.

Sister--Three said...

Cream ummmm make butter!

This brings back memories. We had a herd of Holsteins in the early 60s. Unlike you, I hate milking cows.

CountryDew said...

I found that interesting. We have always had beef cattle, never milk cows.


Gracie and you make the perfect team. Lots alot of milk, for sure.

Margaret said...

Can milk be frozen? Or will you just end up with WAY too much to even store? :)

Donna said...

Margaret, I don't even HAVE to milk, I just enjoy it. That cow will continue to give milk for ten months. She is at her peak now, but four months from now her production will gradually drop. Even at the end of her lactation she will give more milk than we can use. I only milk because first, I enjoy milking once in awhile; and second, we really like the taste of raw milk and cream. Those three calves Grace is raising have no problem taking all her milk. But no need to freeze something that we will have on hands all the time anyhow.