Not so Wordless this week…ha!
Our family drinks and goes through a lot of milk in a week so we’ve been looking at the possibility of getting a herdshare cow (the kids will own a portion of her milk “shares” and we’ll sell “cow or milk shares”, which is where other people desiring raw milk will buy shares of her, that is if IL doesn’t change their raw milk laws). We have been researching dairy cows or rather our daughter has been, and even went to visit a Guernsey dairy farm in Wisconsin, nearly two hours away, in November. The economical benefits to owning our own cow would allow us to supply our family with milk for 8-10 months out of the year, plus all the other dairy products we enjoy – butter, yogurt, ice cream and cheese, as well as providing others with fresh milk too.
Then a couple of weeks ago while my mom was here we came across a Craigslist ad for a Guernsey for sale locally. It was a person we bought some of our bookcases from just after we moved into this house. The reasons we like this cow is she’s local so less travel time, less stress on the cow. The owner is raising the cow the way we want to, which is a huge factor to us wanting her. The cow was also affectionate to our daughter the first time she went in her pen, which resonated with us…so….we bought her!
Eclipse is a 5.5 year old Guernsey. She has given birth to three calves, the third one was born last year. Even though it’s been a year since her last birth she is still giving a couple of gallons of milk per day. We are really impressed, but we are newbies so it doesn’t take much to impress us She is being fed pasture, hay and fodder (sprouted grain). We *think* the fodder is what is helping her give milk for so long between calves. Either that or she’s just a faithful milker! Here’s to hoping she likes us as well as she did her former owner.
The children are hoping her first calf with us is a heifer (female) so they can buy back the herdshares and make Eclipse our family cow. If she has a bull calf, then he’ll be processed for beef and shared among all the shareholders. We hope to get Eclipse bred this spring or summer, Lord willing. First we have to figure out when she cycles, which can be hard to determine when there’s only one cow. Or so we’ve been told.
While I grew up surrounded by cows, I have very little experience taking care of them, especially a dairy cow. Growing up I watched them being milked and took their yummy milk from the cooler of our neighbors milk parlor, but not once did I take care of one or milk one. I took care of my pastor’s beef cow when he and his family went away a couple of times, that’s my extent of caring for a cow. Other than that my experience is limited to visits to neighbors farms in my hometown in Nova Scotia, having the cows lick my rubber boots and runny a muck through their pastures as a child.
We are excited but a little apprehensive, as cows require a set routine and it’s a whole new animal to acclimate to our farm. So do you have any experience with cows?
Stay tuned to more adventures of milking a cow, making butter and even fencing….from our fledgling little farm….