Great gifts of life

Yesterday, I caught up with some old friends.  These are people I’ve known for a long, long time.  People that you can talk honestly to and know that they are going to take what you say as you mean it.  They understand you, or maybe it’s because our friendship is so strong.  I hate that I’ve been so caught up in who-knows-what … crap really, that I haven’t taken the time to keep up with these friends.  I’ll try to do better from here on out as these friendships are special and extremely valuable.

Given how stressed I was with the last litter of puppies (Midge x Gel); it’s a wonderful thing to be completely and totally relaxed about these puppies.  I know they’ll find the right homes.  Three of them already have.  I don’t have to worry about tests or titles or pieces of paper.  I’ll bring them up as best I can and trust that they’ll go on to be nice dogs and find their right homes.

I have kept track of three of the puppies from the Midge x Gel litter.  These are the three that are still in the United States.  Two are in Canada, one I hear about occasionally; I don’t even know where the other is.  I hate that, but it is the way it is.  I panicked when I had five puppies and not one of them sold.  I should have trusted that they’d all go where they should and kept them here in the States.  The only thing I can do is to do better with this litter.

In light of my conversations yesterday, I’m making a change in milk production here on the farm.  For the longest time I’ve been wanting a Jersey cow.  While I like goat milk and I really like goat cheese, there are some things that I like to do with Jersey milk that I can’t do with goat milk.  Yogurt is one thing.  Goat milk just doesn’t cut it for yogurt.  Butter is another.  While I haven’t made butter before, I very much want to.  Of course, I can continue to drive up to the dairy and buy milk, but it’s a pain for the dairy owners to stop what they are doing (and they are ALWAYS doing something) to get milk for me.  Also, while they are several steps above a conventional dairy, they are still a conventional dairy.  I want to get away from grain feeding and have milk products from grass fed animals.  That’s very hard to do with goats, but I’m getting there.  It will be a little easier to do with a cow, especially a Jersey.

The dairy owner has told me that whenever I was ready for a cow, that he’d find one for me.  Now that we are fencing the back ten acres, I finally got Wally on board.  I went up to the dairy yesterday and they showed me a three year old cow that they were willing to sell.  She is very, very well bred and bred back to calf in August.  Normally, she would not be for sale, but over the winter she slipped and is still a bit lame.  Traveling back and forth from the pastures (they have hundreds of acres of pasture) and especially walking and standing on the concrete was hard on her.  If she wasn’t sold, they were going to keep her until she calved and then she’d go to the meat packer.  The price they are asking for her is extremely reasonable given what she is and that she’s bred.  The dairy owner said that if her calf was a female, that he’d buy it back, but I plan to keep it myself.  The plan is to leave the calf on its mother (as Nature intended) to share the milk.  A good Jersey cow will give more than enough milk to feed a calf and our needs.  If the calf is a bull calf, well then we have a place for him when he grows up.  Ideally, with a dairy cow in residence, we’ll be able to completely eliminate the bottle feeding which is a pain in the butt.

Because this is a young cow, she’s small in stature and doesn’t have a huge udder.  That she’s reaching the end of her lactation (she’ll need to be dried off in June) she isn’t producing a tremendous amount of milk right now.  It’s a perfect time for me to get her.  While I was there looking at her, they tied her to the railing and let me milk her.  I only milked a little bit (it’s a lot different from milking a goat), but she stood still.  She’ll need to be halter broke and I’m sure Gel will be quite happy to offer his assistance.  The distance that she’ll need to travel from the back ten acres to where I milk is a lot less than what she’s been traveling at the dairy and of course she wouldn’t be standing on concrete here.  There is an area off the hitching area for the goats that we can set up a cow milking area.

Two of the goats are going to go to a woman in South Carolina who is in the process of setting up a small dairy.  I sold three doe kids to her last month.  She’s a nice lady and I know she’ll take good care of them.

I am extremely apprehensive about my ability to manage a cow.  It will be quite a learning experience.  If all goes well, we’ll pick her up tomorrow.

I have to get my butt in gear and get working on that gorgeous black horse that lives in the yard (Al Bin).  The gray horse (Merlin) is a never ending pain in the butt and I need to get the black horse riding.  Yesterday when I came through the gate in the truck, Al Bin went out.  Okay, I said to him, you go on but you’ll be out there by yourself.  That wasn’t the way Al Bin saw it.  He soon went into the goat pasture and spent the afternoon lounging with the goats.  The shithead Merlin would have been chasing them around … just like he’s been chasing Al Bin around all morning as well as kicking at the chickens.  Rotten beast!

Until later …