For most of my married life, I milked cows; mostly registered Jersey cows. We didn't have enough cows, nor the right equipment, to be a real dairy. I sold raw milk to anyone who wanted it, churned butter from the cream, and fed the extra milk to pigs, baby goats, orphan lambs, barn cats, and "bobby" calves bought from dairies.
We didn't go on vacations all those years, because a dairy cow must be milked twice a day. And it's virtually impossible to find anyone who knows how to milk a cow, or wants to.
Over ten years ago, I sold my last milk cow, and started to enjoy my new-found freedom. We could go anywhere we wanted, and stay overnight. That part was great.
But I've never stopped missing my pretty Jersey cows.
There's a message board I read quite a bit, and last year some folks had a yearling Jersey heifer for sale; the people happened to live about thirty miles from me. We went and looked at the heifer, but I really wanted a baby I could raise on the bottle myself, halter-break, and make it a pet. So we came home empty-handed. I liked the people, though.
A couple of days ago, I noticed these same folks had three cows calving at almost the same time, and they seemed to be having heifer calves. All of them. Surely these people could spare a baby heifer this year?
I contacted the lady, and she and her husband settled on a price. I haven't been to see the calf myself; the picture on the previous entry is one the owners took. But I'm pretty sure I'm buying it. I won't be able to bring her home, though, for a couple of weeks.
So, will I be tied down to milking twice a day again?
First of all, this baby will be two years old before she has her first calf. So that's two years of freedom, right there. For you city folks, a cow doesn't give milk until it has a baby. Just like humans and other mammals. Then you milk them for ten months, stop milking to "dry them up" for two months, they have another baby and it starts all over again.
I'm not worried about the milk. Even with the help of the granddaughters, we seldom use over a gallon of milk a week. But I have a plan.
When Secret has her calf at age two, we won't take the calf away from her, as is the custom with dairy cows. We'll let it stay with mom. It won't be able to take all the milk at first, and I will have to relieve the cow of the excess milk for six to eight weeks. I'll also have to watch the calf for signs of "scours" (diarrhea), which often happens with too much rich milk.
Judging from my past experience, the baby should be able to take all the milk its mother gives by the time it's two months old, without getting a diarrhea from too much milk. From then on, if I want milk, I'll put the calf in the barn overnight and get some milk the next morning. Then I'll turn mom and baby out together again. As I said, though, I'm really not worried about milk for our purposes. I just want a pretty Jersey cow on the place again.
I'll name the baby Secret. She'll be my Valentine gift. Cliff's got the XM radio; I get the baby Jersey. The calf is going to cost more than the radio, just so you know.