Monday, October 05, 2015

A difficult choice

Regular readers realize how I have worried and stewed over whether to sell Penny, one of my two Jersey cows.  One would think it shouldn't be a problem, considering I have sold dozens of cows I loved over the years.  And yet I struggled.  Penny's milk was perfect, the cream content outstanding.  She never gave me a problem in the barn, being milked.
I usually like to buy at least two baby calves at a time, so they can be buddies; but Penny was the only one I bought that spring.  I took suggestions for names from my blog readers, then let them vote for their favorite of the names that had been suggested.  That's how she got her name.  

When we put dehorning paste on her, some of it got on the tip of an ear, leaving her right ear shorter than the left one.

I had hoped that when she had her first calf, I might be able to get a couple of "bobby" calves to put alongside it so I wouldn't have to milk all the time.  This worked perfectly with Grace, my other cow; unfortunately, since Penny's firstborn was dead by the time it was delivered, she never got any experience with having a calf suckle her.  She refused the calves I put on her, although I did force her to take calves for about three months by putting an anti-kick device on her right side and letting all three calves nurse from that side.  Calves are hard on a cow's delicate udder, she developed some sore spots, and I weaned the calves and started milking twice a day.  That isn't as unpleasant a task as you might think, not for me.  I saved the morning milking (over two gallons), skimmed off the cream for coffee cream, potato soup, rice-and-raisins,, butter-making, etc., and poured most of the skim milk to Stanley the Pig, who got ALL the milk I obtained in the evening, cream and all, warm from the cow.  I'm guessing he weighs around two hundred pounds now, although Cliff and I aren't very good at estimating the weight of a pig (therein lies another story).

The trouble is, you have to be home every twelve hours to milk a cow.  Later on I could have switched to once-a-day milking, but not now, with her giving so much milk.  Finally this week, that still, small voice of reason kept telling me to sell the cow.  Friday evening I placed an ad on Craigslist, offering Penny for a more-than-reasonable price.  I would have asked more had she been bred, but it's been almost six months since she calved:  When I see a cow advertised that hasn't been bred in a timely manner, that raises red flags for me, and I wanted to allow for that.  See, she had metritis after her difficult calving.  The vet treated that, got her coming in heat again, and assured us that she would breed if we got her to a bull.  Here's one of the pictures I took to put on Craigslist:
She looks as thought she's accusing me
I immediately got a phone call from someone far away in central Kansas wanting to come and see her; he was going to be working Saturday but wanted to come the next day.  I told him to check back and see if she sold before then.  There was an email half an hour after I placed the ad asking if I would take $150 less than my stated price for the cow.  Good grief, I had her at a bargain price already!

Saturday I got calls from two different people who probably would have bought her, but we were going to be gone on a tractor drive until evening.  One man, another Kansan, said he would be here at 4:30 after I told him we would be home by four o'clock.

He and his son watched me milk Penny and asked lots of questions; "Four gallons... that's a lot of milk!" he exclaimed.

The guy said he has a lot of kids, and although they have never had experience with a cow, they want to try milking.  I liked the fellow, even though he has no experience.  Cliff and I both got good vibes from him.  He paid us half our asking price to hold the cow until next weekend and went on his way.  We will probably tell him that if she doesn't work out, we would take her back, as long as she is in the same shape as when we sold her.  But then he could probably sell her to someone else for more than he's paying.

So, Penny is going to Edwardsville, Kansas, next weekend.  I'm churning butter every day, putting it in the freezer.  I hope this all works well for everyone involved.  

Grace is due to calve in three weeks, I believe.  Her milk and cream are nothing to brag about, but her temperament is sweet.  If she accepts other calves as well as she did last year, we should be able to travel a little bit and I will still have a pet cow.

1 comment:

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

That would have been a hard decision but hopefully it will work out for the best !