Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I've got your stimulus package right here!

Er... no wait...

Right here:

Yes, we got a cow.

Not the one we were looking at before. The timing just didn't work quite right. He needed to sell sooner than we could be ready to buy. So we moved on.

I've spent the last few weeks putting in several hundred feet of fencing to enclose some additional pasture and connect our barn to our existing fields. I also built a pen and a milking area in the barn.

Ok, I guess I should tell you about the cow. She's a Jersey, about three years old, hand-milked by an Amish family who lives about 75 miles from us. She may or may not be bred to a Holstein.

How did we find her, you ask? Craigslist, of course. Yes, really. The Amish don't use computers or most technology, but sometimes their neighbors do. This man's neighbor posted the listing for him, I saw it, and next thing I knew I was talking to an Amish farmer on a cell phone.

We all drove up to see the cow a couple weeks ago, and I ended up driving back a week or so later to try milking her. (They were selling because she was slightly awkward to milk. Well, any cow would be slightly awkward for me to milk, so...)

And now, here she is, settling into her new surroundings.

In 2005, this is where we lived:
...on three-tenths of an acre in suburban Cincinnati. Most days I don't think about how strange that is given where we are now. Today is not most days though.

As of today, we have a sweet Jersey cow to milk twice a day. Six gallons per day - an essentially unlimited supply of milk, butter, cream, yogurt, buttermilk, cheeses, ice cream... assuming we can figure out how to make them all. After our yogurt experience, I'm pretty confident we can figure it out. Then we just have to find ways to use the other 90% of it.

What about the baby, you ask? He's doing really well. Fabulously. I don't know that we'd be doing this if he wasn't settling in as well as he is. I think after having twins, one high needs and one special needs, with a couple hospital visits thrown in, this has been a cake walk. Sure he's still a baby and still needs time and attention. But we decided we could manage an hour or two a day between us to handle our Jersey girl.

Are you crazy?

In fact, I've already been using milking time every morning and every night to get the fencing and other work done. It's worked very well, and now that all that stuff is taken care of, I guess the fun can begin.

I should also mention the truck driver. He brought his pickup truck back to our barn, pulling a three-horse trailer, into an area that I can barely turn my pickup truck around in. There are four small apple trees along one side of the area, and two tiny Chinese chestnut saplings on the other side. He noticed them, pulled up within a foot of one of the saplings, backed to within inches of the apple tree, and then somehow cut sideways so that the other sapling passed through the gap between the truck and it's trailer. And before I knew it, he was turned 180 degrees and perfectly positioned to unload the cow. He did all this without stopping & starting, or even hesitating. It was about the most impressive piece of driving I've ever seen.

Now, in the middle of all this, I have let a couple things slide. The grass is getting very tall, which will hopefully yield us some usable hay, but there are a few areas that need a little more regular maintenance. And I know I've gotten a bit behind on a few things, but come on! A robin's nest in the tractor?!

I don't know if it'll do any good, but I relocated it to a slightly safer location. Not sure if it'll do any good, but it was done in full view of mama.

Anyway, off we go on another adventure. Stories of our incompetence to follow...


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At 5/14/2008 9:05 PM, OpenID ruralaspirations said...

Your cow is so beautiful! Doesn't she need a companion of some kind though? I understand cows are rather social. Perhaps a llama? I'll stay tuned...

At 5/14/2008 9:07 PM, Blogger craftydabbler said...

Congratulations on your cow. She is beautiful. I can't wait to hear how it all works out.

At 5/14/2008 10:27 PM, Blogger Robbyn said...

Oh my gosh, E, you're SO SO rich! That's how I think of anyone with their own Jersey cow, and yours is so beautiful!!

6 gallons of milk...a day?? Rich, rich rich! We can't WAIT till we can do the same thing...we'll be reading your Jersey cow posts with great interest.

So glad your littlest one is setttling in so well :)

Did I mention congratulations on the Jersey?? :)

At 5/15/2008 2:00 AM, Blogger CG said...

The cow, and the baby, look great. As for the extra milk, think pigs. Then you'll also get to figure out butchering, salting, rendering, etc. but you will never have eaten so well either. Congrats.

At 5/15/2008 6:30 AM, Blogger valereee said...

Very fun! Did the mama robin deal with the move okay?

At 5/15/2008 7:31 AM, Blogger jewishfarmer said...

Ooh, ooh, I love, love, love your cow. So jealous. Thankfully, my dairy goats are coming soon. But oh, I want a cow.

BTW, if a guy named Eric emails you and yells at you for making his crazy wife want a cow, I'm sorry ;-).


At 5/15/2008 8:10 AM, Blogger Cathy said...

Congratulations on your cow! It would be great to make your own dairy products.

At 5/15/2008 9:09 AM, Blogger Verde said...

Oh I am envious! I came over from Sharon's to see the new cow.

The closeset I've come is buying milk from someone with a cow. She has a heifer calf and I am so trying to figure out how to fit her into the urban homestead.

I'll be checking back. Hope you don't mind my linking you to my blog.

At 5/15/2008 11:12 AM, Blogger barefoot gardener said...

Both the Jersey and the Baby are beautiful. I can't tell which picture I was more excited about! ;)

When I think of 6 gallons of milk a day, I just go WOW. My kids go through a gallon a day, and with the price of milk these days? Holy Cow. Almost literally.

I am excited to follow your experiments with dealing with all the excess milk. I know butter and ice cream are easy, and have heard that yogurt isn't too hard, but cheese? Wow.

At 5/15/2008 9:22 PM, OpenID badhuman said...

I'm so jealous! What a great thing to do with your economic stimulus package. We are going to be renting for a few more years until we can afford to buy some land but eventually we would like to have a cow especially since it takes a least a gallon to make a decent amount of homemade mozzarella.

At 5/16/2008 11:46 AM, Blogger tina f. said...

Congrats on the new cow. You'll have fun. I wouldn't worry about getting a companion for her unless you can afford it just yet. When we got our Dexter cow it was just her for many years until last year when we finally bought a bull (previously doing AI). Although I must say we have sheep too but I wouldn't exactly call them companions for her...
Anyhow, my sister is all into making cheese, yogurt, and the like so you'll have plenty of use for all the milk. I'm all into making ice cream--very easy and you don't even need cream; plain milk works great too. Cream just makes the ice cream really rich. Enjoy!

At 5/16/2008 1:53 PM, Blogger Wendy said...

*sigh* I'm not likely to ever get a cow ... but, hopefully, I can persuade my husband that a couple of dwarf (or pygmy) dairy goats would really work well on our property.

Your cow is beautiful ... and a fantastic way to spend that incentive money - although probably not what they had in mind :) *hee hee*

Your baby is also very beautiful. Congratulations on both :).

At 5/17/2008 8:33 AM, Blogger JBTW said...

I feel somewhat out of sorts... I'm not going to comment on the beauty of the cow (I have no frame of reference to compare). But everyone else says so -- so it must be true. :)

What I was going to say was about the driver... Aren't good drivers amazing?!?! Sounds silly, but being around my hubby and actually getting to see the ability to drive backwards with a trailer hitched on the back. More specifically, getting it exactly where it needs to be, without destroying everything in it's path -- well I couldn't do it! That's pretty amazing in my book. (Then there are those who manage to hit telephone poles -- and they are the "paid professionals...")

The baby is beautiful! Keep 'em coming. (Photos, not babes.) :)

I also like the robin's nest photos. I hope momma wasn't pissed with you. (After all she might retaliate in unexpected & unusual ways.)

At 5/19/2008 8:02 PM, Blogger Morgan said...

looks like fun

can't wait to meet both new additions

At 5/20/2008 9:55 PM, Blogger Verde said...

Ohhh we do live in suberbia --- we are downtown but it's a small enough town that it looks as though the properites across the street have animal rights.

I bought a manicured property -which I appreciate but when my new found friend with the cow stopped by she said, ohhh that calf will eat everyting in sight. I'm trying to find a good site within walking distance in well below zero weather. Of course in a long emergency all bets are off.

At 5/23/2008 6:17 AM, Blogger Danielle said...

lol Apparently I'm not the only one spending my bush bucks on a cow!

But wow you guys are brave: twins, a new baby, and now a cow! But you'll have plenty of tasty dairy to feed those babes, that's for sure.

I look forward to reading about your bovine adventures!


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