Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Some time last spring I started debating whether or not I was ready for a real dairy cow.  We milked Dorie, a beef cow, the first year when she lost her calf, and attempted it again when Casper was born.  Casper gobbled up every last drop of milk though, turning it into some mighty fine beef.  By the time Sharlotte came along last summer I had pretty much given up on the idea of ever milking Dorie again.

I had my sights set on Nelly, our bottle baby, becoming our next milker, because she's so lovable, friendly, and agreeable.  But she never calved.  She might calve this year.  She might be agreeable.  She might have enough milk for her calf and us.  She might not.

I wanted milk.  I did not want a Holstein, which I could buy any day at the auction.  They're very common around here.  Those udders are just too intimidating for me though.  How many hours would it take to hand milk a Holstein?  And then what would I do with ALL THAT MILK?  Nope, too much.  I was leaning toward a jersey, Guernsey, or a Canadienne.  I've seen each breed at the auction from time to time, so knew they were available in our area.

A couple of months ago I started searching in earnest.  I placed an ad on Kijiji, started talking to farmers, searched the online sale boards.  I had one guy in Sarnia offer me a jersey.  Sarnia!  That's only about a ten hour drive.

Yesterday I was going to stay home and vegetate clean up after March break.  Then Husband found out he had the day off work.  He figured since it was Monday, and sunny, that he would drag my butt outside using the auction as a lure.  Big mistake on his part! lol

Someone came in with a basket full of Saanen billy goats.  We need a new stud.  Doesn't he look like a stud?  Meet Maximus.

Then I bought the first of several calves I'm planning to raise for beef this year.  He doesn't have a name yet.  So far he hasn't responded to anything we've tried.

I so wanted to buy a couple of piglets.  There were about thirty that came through the auction, from kitty cat to nearly ready to butcher size.  Most of them were male.  I sat on my hands.  I really have no place suitable for raising piglets until we lose a couple feet of snow.  Now watch, I won't be able to find any in the spring.

And Mildred.  I named her before I bought her.  It was early.  Hardly anyone there.  She was all alone in a stall.  I talked to her for a bit.  She mooed at me.
I told her her name was Mildred.  She mooed.  I told her she was going to be a family cow.  She walked away.
I told her she was coming home with me.  She came back and let me pet her nose.

She's a little thin.  I don't think she's very old.  First calf maybe?  Or second?
I bid hard and fast against the meat guys.  Once she was over their profit margin it looked like she'd be mine.  Then the other hobbyists, homesteaders, and such got started.  I went slower with them.  I tricked some of them.  Right after she sold one guy came over and asked how much I wanted for my jersey.  He thought I had brought her to sell and was just driving up the price.  Nope, not for sale.  She's mine!
She didn't get home until about 10pm.  Then we had to milk her.  She was in a new place, with new people, engorged, and accustomed to machine milking.  It took three of us until midnight to get her drained.  I brought nearly 4L in the house, after feeding the calf, spilling the bucket, dumping the bucket she stepped in to the chickens, and making a mess while filtering.  Just look at those udders!  How much can they hold?
We got her haltered this morning and brought another 4L in the house.  Round two went a little quicker.  She's very calm and agreeable.

After the auction strangers started coming up to us and telling us what a good cow we bought.  That's never happened before!  One lady told us she had three jerseys from the same farm as Mildred.  She knows the people who owned them.  They sold Mildred because she produces TOO MUCH MILK for their dairy line!  This lady has the jerseys raising other calves, two to three at a time.  She says they're great adoptive mothers.

I am declaring this the official first day of spring.  I am going to ignore the snow that is currently falling, the snow that is forecast for the next three days, and the bitter north wind that is blowing.  I have babies and a cow to milk.  It is spring.


  1. This was a funny post! Too much milk? How lucky did you just get? With four boys I am sure you can make a dent in that.

    Auctions frighten me. I won an item and the auctioneer said, "You guys aren't going to let a woman beat you, are you?" The bids resumed after I had won and no one wanted what I got at a good price. I lost my nerve forever. And, it was my first auction, EVER.

    You are going to feed calves, too? And, you make cheese!

    I am so happy for you. I can drink a 4L of milk in about five days.

    It seems since she likes you as well as you like her. Congratulations! She sounds better than piggies.

    1. Thanks! My mom keeps asking what I'm doing with all the milk, lol. I think she figures that my fridge should be full by now. In truth though, the calf is getting quite a bit, probaby 2-3L of what we bring in the house, plus the two feedings at milking time. We have drank some, but I asked the boys to limit their consumption for now. We're not pasteurizing, so I'd like them to build up to gulping down a gallon at a time and give their systems a chance to adjust. I've got nearly enough cream for the first batch of butter, and I started the first batch of yogourt today, just a quart. That leaves us with about 2L from yesterday and 4L from this morning. I think the chickens got close to 2L this morning. Things were going really well, she was very relaxed, had let her milk down, it was pretty much gushing out with every pull... and then she lifted her foot and stuck it right in the bucket! I should have stopped and emptied it into the house bucket before it got so full. Oops.

      Sorry to hear you had a bad auction experience. You should give it another try some time. Just set your price in your head and bid to that point. If you win, you win. If not, well at least it's a day out and a bit of fun.

      Yes, we're going to try raising a few extra calves to sell in the fall. It might work out really well if we can space them out so that one starts eating more hay/grass just as we bring in another.

      I don't know how much milk we would actually use if I didn't put limits on it. One thing I do remember from last time though- our grocery bill dropped significantly!

  2. Oh what a beauty! I love jerseys. If she's putting out all that milk, is her butter fat content up too? That would be sweet! As a side note, little piggys love extra milk too, so it sounds like you can get the best of both worlds. I'm with Linda sending congrats for allllll the additions to your farm.

    1. Thanks! I think she's got such a pretty face! And such a bony rear end! lol. I'm getting about an inch of cream off the top of the milk jug after 12 hours. That's about double what we got from Dorie, and I think we had to wait closer to two full days for the cream to settle.

      Yes, I've read that bacon raised on milk is super yummy! lol! It was part of the plan too, to get piglets again- the price of hog feed, and grains in general, has skyrocketed in the past few years, so having more milk than we can use in the house would be very cost effective. Hopefully I'll be able to find more piggies in a month or two.

  3. Congratulations! I'm very happy for you. We have a Jersey and love our cow. She only milks on 3 quarters as she had a bad quarter when we got her. We've been milking her 9 months this lactation and she is still giving 3 gallons a day. We get about 3 pints of cream per gallon of milk. We're hoping to have her bred in June if we can find a local bull. I don't want a winter calf. That means we'll be milking for 1 1/2 years before we dry her up! We'll see how that goes. We find it hard to keep weight on our cow in the winter when she's milking so much. She is on free choice grass hay and about 12# of grain a day. Best of luck with your new addition!

    1. Thank you! Yesterday we switched the calf to smaller feedings (with yogourt) more often- he seemed a little dopey- so no unmeasured milk for him last night. We also managed to keep her feet out of the milk bucket, so the chickens went without too. Almost a complete milking went to the house (we still have bad aim with those back teats). 6L (1.58 gallons). I'll probably only do that once in a while for measuring purposes, but it's nice to know how much she's producing!

      I skimmed the cream this morning, filling a gallon jug over 3 days. Today I'll be making our first batch of butter.

      We'll only be milking until August or September, then we'll set her loose with the rest of the herd (and Toothless) to hopefully be bred again for next spring. It's too cold here to try milking through the winter. I mean, I'm sure others do it, but I see what my beef cows lose and eat every winter just being pregnant, I don't think milking would be good for her.

      Thanks so much for sharing! I look forward to reading more on your blog!

  4. Mildred is lovely! Wow! Think of the butter, and yogurt, and cream, and cheese and milk...all fresh and unpasturized.

    1. Thanks Sue! Don't forget the ice cream! lol. The boys have decided I need the kitchenaid ice cream mixer for mother's day this year.

  5. We don't have a livestock auction within easy reach - probably a good thing for our bank account. Even if I did go, as you say, it would be mostly Holsteins and Herefords - if there was a little Jersey there, with those big melting eyes, I'd have outbid my limit in no time. Love all the plans you have for the milk.

    1. Husband sometimes wonders whether the farm drew me to the auction or if the auction drew me to farming, lol. We've had some odd critters over the years. I have a hard time passing on a good deal.

      Thanks, Sailor.