Thursday, October 06, 2016

A practical solution to the cattle situation around here

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.


Nancy said...

Will you raise one for me too? I'd buy the calf, pay for the food, and even pay you raising salary! I just want a freezer full of beef.

krueth said...

Sure wish I had the fence and the guts to raise a calf for dinner next year ;-) We raised them when I was a kid, but now I buy it all in the store and I agree with you, It scares the bajeebers out of me to think what we are eating. yikes! Wendy

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

It is still a lot of work for you but hopefully will be worth it. It's been a long time since I had home grown beef so I've become used to the store bought. However there is a difference in where you buy it. I hope it goes they way you plan it.

Mary Degli Esposti said...

I own McDonalds stock, so my allegiance is there(Says the coward who could not butcher a calf. I most probably would also not [DEFINITELY NOT] be able to care for one well enough for a year, either). So the organic store-sold beef out there is not really considered a fairly safe bet?

Sister--Three said...

Donna, I think at certain times of the year you get cow fever!!! I remember
Patsy got chicken fever in late winter and would get those chicken catalogs.
She'd end up ordering a new type. Donna there is no cure. You will just
Have to live with it!

Donna Wood said...

Nancy, there are so many horses living here that we'll be lucky to have enough pasture for one cow. I thought about getting two just so they'd have company, but it really isn't practical. Sister-Three, you are right. Mary, I'm not afraid of any beef in the store (although I try not to think too much about the way it's processed). It just doesn't taste good to me, or smell right.