Have I not introduced you to the newest members of our farm yet? Meet Suki, (a Jersey), and her sweet little doe-eyed calf.
Suki moved into our barn about a week ago. No, she's not ours, but yes, she sort of is. Let me explain.
Suki belongs to one of my dearest friends who just moved into our valley. Because having a close friend and other homeschoolers living nearby wasn't awesome enough, my friend asked if we'd like to share her cow.
Let me say that again: she wants to share her cow with us. Just because. How amazing is that?
And so we said yes. Of course! Goodness me! Yes!
And that was that. Suki came to stay.
Pete and I have contemplated having a milk cow for years. But two things stopped us from moving forward with that dream. 1. The every-single-day-no-matter-what commitment of milking and 2. too much milk!
We have long loved the idea of cow-sharing as a solution to both of these points, but the perfect situation hadn't fallen into our laps until last week.
Now every other morning we head down to the barn for hand milking this golden-hearted gal. Sometimes I go alone, sometimes Pete goes alone, and often (usually) we embark one or more child in tow.
Like everything it's been a crash-course in homesteading. When should we separate the calf each day? How can we fatten this lady up after a lean winter? Why is there no cream on this milk? Because my friend wants to share the cow in every way, including making decisions about her care.
And so we're reading books, searching on-line, talking to friends (the best resource of all), and then getting to work.
We've all learned so much in this first week of having a family cow. (Including yesterday's interesting physics experiment involving the propulsion of liquid from a pail when firmly kneed by a large bovine. Photo evidence here.)
Today we're ordering cheese cultures, making mozzarella and ricotta, yogurt and ice cream, and dreaming of all the raw milk delicacies that we will produce this summer.
Oh, yes. This funky little homestead just got even more delicious.
12 thoughts on “Family cow”
How awesome, a cow to share! What a blessing to have such lovely generous friends! If you’re not getting cream, it might just be one of these two things… Either you might not be milking her empty at each milking due to inexperience on your part, or you are (you think) and she’s holding back the last of her milk for her calf. The last of the milk that comes out at each milking is going to have the most cream. Just like in human breast milk. The fore-milk is more “watery” and the hind milk is where the baby gets all of the fat and cream from! Try to be sure you are milking her empty, otherwise as her morning calf, her body will sense that you need less milk, so she’ll start making less and less each day. Of course it could be something else entirely, but in my (limited) experience with lactating animals those two reasons seem to be the most common reasons for lack of a good cream line on your milk! Good luck, I can’t wait to read more about your new adventures with her.
Yes! Thank you Rachel. That was what another friend suggested – that she was “holding her cream”. And that was the case. We’re now milking her out, then letting the calf out and milking while he nurses. It’s a little tricky to orchestrate – thus the bucket explosion yesterday morning. But the milk once her baby is latched is pretty much half-and-half. Thank you for your input! So helpful to have friends to chime in.
Oh…..home made cheese curds!!! I did these a couple of years ago when I had access to raw milk from a neighbor. After I made a fresh batch, I took a bowl of them to my husband. He took a bite, his eyes lit up and he said, “These are like real!”. Well, yes, just off the stove top. Silly guy. Enjoy your wonderful new family member.
Oh raw milk. How I would love you.
Oh, a cow-share! That’s phenomenal!
I would love a cow (some day when we ever have enough land to support one), but “too much milk” and “every day without fail” have been our concerns as well. I hadn’t thought of finding a friend to share the responsibility (and milk!) with… xo
He nailed it. Real!
No kidding. I thought I was lactose intolerant until I had my first taste of raw milk!
It’s the best plan ever.
I’m so excited for you! Congrats! Can’t wait to see more smiling cow faces and dairy delights on the blog 🙂 Have a great weekend friend!
How very exciting. That will be so great for your family to have raw milk right there. Oh I can just see the huge increase in ice cream recipes coming our way!
Really cool! With the amount of raw milk that we buy, between the milk for granola, iced coffees, and cheese making, a cow or goat would be great. But not the best fit for half an acre! Enjoy!
Cow-sharing–what a perfect solution to some of the challenges owning a cow! (And a great way around concerns about the state.) I don’t know if you have ever made feta but it is super easy and what I do if I have extra milk, see: http://artofnaturalliving.com/2013/12/14/extra-milk-make-homemade-feta-cheese/