I miss having cows. It's nothing I shed tears about, but I do miss interacting with cows, and I think I have found a sensible solution.
There will be no more milk cows here, as much as I love milking and all that goes with it. Every time I think I'll get another Jersey, Dona Smith comes to mind. She is one of the best friends I ever had. She and Bud, her husband, would have driven anywhere, done anything, to help us if we needed it (one time when Cliff was out of a job, they offered us the loan of a substantial amount of money; of course, we declined). Bud has passed on now, and Dona is in a nursing home. She had a stroke years ago, which may be what caused her sometime dementia; I've only been to visit her twice over all these years, which tells you what kind of lousy friend I am. On the first visit we had a good chat, but she wasn't quite "with it". For instance, she told me that she was planning to buy some Jersey cows (she and Bud kept a small dairy herd at one time). She was going to get out there and milk again! Now the woman was, and is, wheel-chair bound. So she obviously didn't realize the impossibility of her milking cows... or keeping them at a nursing home.
The second time I went, the old Dona was back and we had a nice, sensible conversation.
So every time I think I might get another Jersey cow, I remember how sad it was to see Dona, sitting in a wheelchair in a nursing home, planning to buy some cows, and I remind myself that these days I just don't take care of things, or pay enough attention to a cow's cycles and condition, to have a cow.
Our supply of ground beef in the freezer is dwindling fast. There are plenty of local farmers who would sell us half a beef, but by the time you pay for the beef and then pay for butchering, you are out quite a chunk of change. So the wheels in my head began to turn.
The last time I checked, the dairy at Higginsville was selling Holstein bull calves at a very reasonable price. If those prices are still low when I call them (after we go on a bus trip with our tractor club), I think I will buy a calf. This will give me a bovine friend to enjoy and bottle-feed, and in a year we can have him butchered to put ground beef in our freezer... city folks will shudder at this statement, but country folks understand. I will be bottle-feeding him with milk replacer for three months, then buying some grain for awhile; but when spring comes, we can turn him out in the pasture and let him grow. We'll butcher him, probably, by the time he's a year old.
The thought of buying ground beef at the grocery store scares me, because it doesn't smell and taste like what we raise.
In dealing with a steer, there won't be any worry about neighboring bulls, or cows that come in heat at too young an age.
I hope it's as easy as it seems in the telling.