Sunday, July 10, 2016

On Cows, and Joy

Finally, after months of waiting, and watching our cow Willow get fatter and fatter, in fact till she could no longer get down the race...A Calf!  it's a boy, who we have named Sherlock.

Here are Mum and Son, minutes after he was born.  Sherlock has not stood up yet, but Willow is licking him and he stood soon after this photo

Having a calf means having milk.  For the first few days we let them be, then on about day 4 I started to milk Willow.  Those first pails I just let down onto the ground, it was still colostrum.  But after that we have had milk.

She and I have come to an understanding viz I won't tie her to the fence and she won't walk about too much.

We have had a few troubles, she doesn't like me sitting on a bucket for a stool - it makes too many rattling sounds and freaks her out.  I also bring her a bucket of cow muesli as a treat.

While she's eating the cow muesli she stands nice and still in the paddock, and I milk her two rear udders.  Despite what my father said, about cows kicking etc, this is the easiest way to reach them. The two rear teats are quite small and if I milk from underneath it's a slow job.  She hasn't ever kicked.  In fact, she doesn't do anything in a hurry and even if she wants to take a step or two forward I can see she is thinking about it a good minute before she does it.  She's a ditherer, so it takes her a while to make up her mind to take a step.

Once the muesli is finished I have to take the bucket off her or she starts to bang it about, so I take it off her and hang it on the fence or sit on it.

Then I sit at her side and reach her two inside teats and milk them.  The right inside is the calf's favourite and sometimes there isn't much milk there.  But the left inside is the most prolific.  I generally end up with just one hand going on that at the end.

We started getting about 2 litres of milk a day, and now we are up to 4 litres.  Keeping in mind that her calf is on her always, I don't take him off for the night, I'm pretty pleased with that.

Now we have milk, cream and butter!  yumm
Fresh butter!  The fat content of Jersey cream is so high that from a litre of cream most turns into butter, I might get about 200ml of buttermilk only.
So far the weather has co-operated with the paddock milking.  But the idea is that Mark will build me a Cow Bail, so I can milk under shelter when it's raining.  Training Willow to go up the race and into the bail will be my next task!

It's very soothing and meditative milking out in the paddock, while the cow eats or licks her calf, and I lean on her warm sides.  I love it!