Sunday, March 29, 2015

This vast cattle enterprise...

It's now controlling me.  I love working/playing with cows and calves, and that's the reason I am dealing with the excess milk and the calves and the cow with her sore udder; but this isn't quite what I had planned.  (Man plans, God laughs.)  Don't get me wrong, everything is going well.  Grace-the-cow had never been milked regularly before, only a couple of times a week when I wanted some fresh milk for the house.  Now that she is being handled twice a day, her manners are improving.  She's learning to back her leg when I shove on it... the right hind leg needs to be back of the left one to allow access to the back quarters, since I'm on the cow's right.  She isn't peeing and pooping in the barn now that she knows the routine.  The calves took to the nipple-bucket just fine.  I keep them separated for a while after they've had their milk, to prevent their sucking on one another, and that seems to be working.

BUT!  When the calves were nursing the cow, if I had wanted to go someplace overnight, the grandson could have handled the whole thing.  He could have turned the cow in with the calves like I was doing and separated them when the cow's udder was empty.  Now that I'm actually milking twice a day, we are home-bound.  It isn't that we really travel much, it's just the fact of knowing we COULD if we wanted to.  But it's only temporary, so I'm going to make the best of it.

There's no sense in two Jersey or Jersey-cross calves getting over two gallons of milk apiece every day.  It isn't wasted, because they grow that much faster, but it also isn't necessary.  The cow actually gives enough milk for four calves, but with the price of calves, I don't want to invest in two of them.  But I think perhaps we will buy one more, because since I'm spending the time and going to the trouble to milk a cow, I may as well have a little more to show for my efforts.

I had thought about a pig, but they, too, are quite an investment.  A little pig really grows well on milk, supplemented with grain of some sort.  But then there's the stink you get with a pig.  Of course, our pasture is limited, and a pig doesn't require pasture... who knows what I'll decide in the next couple of days?  Not I!  

And speaking of excess milk, it's only five weeks until Penny, another Jersey cow, is due to have a calf and start pouring the milk to me.  If I were smart, I'd advertise her on Craigslist and see if I could sell her, but I always have the problem of wanting to see what sort of calf a cow has.  And once I've seen the calf, it's always just such a fine one that I anticipate seeing it grow and it's hard to part with the cow and her calf then.  And Penny has more of the Jersey breed in her, so her cream will be richer and thicker and more yellow.  So I could sell Grace.  She's bred.  But I like Grace!

You see the problem, don't you?  I'M the problem!

While I'm mulling over this problem, I'm making some split pea soup, using a little bit of ham from the freezer, a ham that I cooked back in December.  So that's what's for dinner today.  Some decisions are easier to make than others, and it seems I can always figure out what to fix for dinner.

One thing just occurred to me:  I could advertise Penny for more money than I think she will bring.  That way, nobody would probably buy her... but if they did, I would have some money to ease the pain of separation.  Let's see, a two-year-old grade Jersey bred to a black Angus bull, due to calve in a month... surely nobody would pay $2,200 for her; I mean, who wants to milk a cow these days?  I know Cliff would be all for this plan, but I'm still pondering.


Barbara In Caneyhead said...

ROFL Oh, Donna. Nothing that comes to this house ever leaves unless it goes in the freezer. Be it crap hauled home from a garage sell, old cars and trucks, the furniture we used to use, ....Hogs definitely need to be situated as far from the house as possible. In a small pen you can feed one to butcher in about 3 months. At this age and stage in my life, I don't want to tend to any animal.

But more power to you! As long as you are finding pleasure in it, that's all that matters.

Hyperblogal said...

You are a splendid writer. Gifted.


You have more patience than a saint. I wouldn't want to be tied down and home-bound. But there is something to be said for having a hobby you love. That sounds like a nice number, if you seriously entertain the notion of selling.