Tuesday, February 13, 2007

about the calf

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.

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robinngabster said...

Okay....city girl here wants to know,  can you drink the milk right from the cow?  No processing or anything?  Does it taste the same as the store milk?  Better?


hibye60 said...

To me you are getting the best Valentine gift....I want one :)  but wouldn't know the first thing about it. I'm a city girl born and raised but living in the country now. I don't know of anyone here at journal land that can beat this beautiful loving gift.
Can't wait to see the pictures, I know you'll be taking lots an lots :) Love the name, secret.

csandhollow said...

Hope you get a good one.

jctopaz55 said...

Mosie... I love your new Secret !!  How sweet is that baby. What a wonderful Valentine gift. Happy Valentines Day !!


mutualaide said...

She is well worth the price.  Prescious, cute and oh, this is going to be so much fun learning about heifers and milking and Jerseys!

marainey1 said...

You certainly have it all figured out and it sounds like it was meant to be.  Happy Valentines Day to you both.  'On Ya' - ma

deshelestraci said...

Raw milk.  I've heard good things about this.  But I think it is illegal in TN to sell it.  Crazy world.   The picture is sweet.  Good luck with this "new" venture.

ksquester said...

HOT DOG!!!  Now when I get home, do I get to come buy and visit it errrrrrrr, I mean you Donna!  Can we have a birthday party for it?   I am excited and it's not even mine.   Anne

gaboatman said...

What a nice secret it turned out to be.  I can tell you are really excited about this and that makes us all exited for you.  Can't wait to see pictures after it's arrival.

suzypwr said...

How cool :)

What a great Valentine's Day gift! I would probably name her Valentine!


amy122389 said...

If you never breed the cow, then it won't give milk at all, right?  I want a mini cow as my new baby!!!


tendernoggle said...

I like the way you think things out Donna! That is one cute little Valentine present!!!! Thought of a name yet???
love ya,

jlester961 said...

I have to admit, I find cows intriguing but they're rather dangerous. We went to a yardsale when we first moved to WV and my husband said I could pet the cows standing at the fence. I put my hand over the fence - and it grabbed my sweater and tried to pull me through the fence - I think it wanted to eat me! I yelled for my husband but they had weedwackers or something at the sale so I was on my own. After a struggle I managed to get the Mad Cow to release my sweater, which was hanging down on one side and full of cow slobber. I yelled at David and told the cow owner (who was running the yardsale) who almost fell off her chair she was laughing so hard. I thought I would pass this on so you could be on your guard. Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day.

dbaumgartner said...

We had a Jersey cow when I was in high school. She was the prettiest thing and I always thought her eyes looked like deer eyes.  Just beautiful


fmgruber said...

Read's like you've got a plan!
That's one way of doing it, and keeping some freedom also. Good luck and have fun. ...http://journals.aol.com/fmgruber/FernansShorthornFarmLife

fowfies said...

Oh I am so happy for you!  That is just my favorite breed!  I want one, but I know right now I just don't have time.  With all the homeschooling and daily chores, I know better.  Oh please give lots of updates once you have that pretty baby, and lots of pictures, maybe I can live vicariously through you having one!  What a treasure, you are so blessed. :)

lanurseprn said...

This is so interesting to me.  We used to have all kinds of dairy farms all around. Where I live, if the wind was blowing a certain direction you'd get a whiff of it. UGH!  We had fields with cows in the neighborhood back then. They've since been replaced with houses.
I didn't know that about the cow producing milk only after having a baby.  I learn so much from you, Donna.
Can't wait to see more pics of little Secret.