Monday, June 02, 2008

More cow notes

Sorry, no baby pictures this time. Actually, no pictures at all. I'm a slacker... I'll post some non-cow stuff next time. Just getting caught up on some interesting developments in this area...

I don't think I've mentioned or cow's name yet. It's Meadow. You know, because she's a Jersey girl and and all.

If you are laughing right now, you watch too much TV. If not, well, it is a nice name for a cow, don't you think?

Something cool happened the other day. A neighbor I hadn't met before stopped by. (One cool thing about living out here is that you can call somebody a "neighbor" even if they live a couple miles away.) He was initially going to ask if he could put a couple cows on our overgrown pasture (like we've done in the past), but then he heard the tell-tale mooing coming from the vicinity of our barn.

I told him we were planning for another neighbor cut hay for us. Meanwhile Meadow plaintively bawled in the background. So he proposes a solution: He'll cut our hay for us in exchange for bringing some bovine pals for Meadow. And my first thought was, wait, I thought the way barter works is that you get something of value and you give up something of value. Both halves of the trade were beneficial to me.

Obviously what we'd be giving up is theoretical future hay, based on the grass the new cattle would graze. And theoretical wear & tear on the fences. I'm told I should ask him to cut hay and ask for money in exchange for grazing a couple of his animals in our pasture. But I really do feel like we're benefiting in multiple ways, and the trivial amount of cash ($20 per head per month, apparently) is unnecessary at this point.

I mean, we'd be getting our hay cut and baled. We'd be getting additional grass cutting and fertilizer spreading. We'd be getting companions for Meadow. We'd be contributing to the local, naturally raised meat supply. And we'd be developing a relationship with a guy who knows things and knows people and who lives right up the road from us.

He's already told me he can provide us with corn for our winter heating needs (instead of driving 25 miles each way). He can provide us with an Angus bull for breeding purposes (since we now know for sure that Meadow is not bred). He can put us in touch with a small local grain mill (which apparently is hidden from the general public because I've been searching for it for a couple years now). He can put us in touch with a vet who is closer than the one we use now (and is also apparently in stealth mode). He can provide us with freezer beef (at least unless/until we grow our own). He'd be interested in buying any of Meadow's calves that we don't want to keep. And he just seems like a good guy. I'll take building this relationship over a little gas money.

In other news, we successfully made homemade ice cream. Mmmmm. No cheese yet, but we're getting there.

And we were happy to learn (or have even further confirmed) that our milk, just like our eggs, is much more nutritious than the usual suspects. I guess animals are like computers (and people, come to think of it) in one sense: Garbage in, garbage out. Or not, as the case may be.

Milk from pastured cows:
• 39% more Omega-3 fatty acids
• 33% more Vitamin E
• 60% more CLA9 (conjugated linoleic acid)
(and I suspect more, but that's all this particular study covered)

Eggs from pastured chickens:
• 1⁄3 less cholesterol
• 1⁄4 less saturated fat
• 2⁄3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene

So.... woohoo!


Followup note: I just found this site that shows all kinds of nutritional benefits to our little backyard endeavor.


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At 6/02/2008 3:29 PM, Blogger Robbyn said...

Congratulations on any number of wonderful solutions rolled into Meadow's new friend arrangement :) Sounds like you've got a wealth of experience and resources at hand in your neighbor...I'm loving following you guys' adventures with your Jersey. We want one so much, and it's having to wait till that elusive Someday for I'll live vicariously through your adventures in learning to milk, grass feeding ,etc, and learn along with your family...more pics, more pics! :)

At 6/02/2008 4:28 PM, Anonymous Britta said...

What a wonderful 'new' neighbor! Sounds like a fantastic arrangement.

At 6/02/2008 8:45 PM, Blogger barefoot gardener said...

Oooh, I am so jealous. So cool to meet a nice neighbor who is letting you "in" on all the local perks, huh?

At 6/02/2008 10:08 PM, Blogger Verde said...

That neighbor is worth his weight in gold...

I find the milk is also more caloric. I'm doing more work but putting on weight - and it is fat!

D'oh I don't think I watch enough TV, though I got the Jersey girl part, cus I'm thinking yea, Meadow is a nice name for a milk cow.

The calf we were considering is Jersey x Angus but she just won't provide the same kind of milk so we'll have to pass.

There are two Dexters with calves available just now, however. We just can't swint it from the (rural) urbania, however.

I'm content reading about milk cows. They occupy a good deal of my thoughts!

At 6/02/2008 10:25 PM, Blogger homebrewlibrarian said...

Must. Not. Think. Of. Cows. Must resist...

I live in urban Anchorage and I don't think we could even get away with a couple Pygmy or miniature goats, much less a cow. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the city will approve new regulations that will allow us to have chickens!

As for your neighbor, do everything in your power to make him your friend. So much help and free knowledge and such a nice guy! Lucky you!

Kerri in AK

At 6/04/2008 7:16 AM, Blogger jewishfarmer said...

I'm with Kerri..Must. Not. Think. Of. Cows.

I feel the same way about most of the barter arrangements we make - for example, we get new fencing put up basically free, some sheep to visit and a donkey we'll probably end up keeping in exchange for some grass we would have had to mow or scythe anyway.

That's the amazing thing about barter relationships - you almost always come out feeling that you got the better of the deal - and usually that's true of both parties.


At 6/04/2008 10:01 AM, Blogger network_weasel said...

It is the homemade ice cream that I sigh wistfully over. I have been meaning to get an icecream maker befor our son gets too old to be entertainined by sitting on it while we crank the handle.

At 6/04/2008 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Meadow is a perfect name for a cow....

Right up there with Clover, Primrose, and other 10 or 12 names that seemed to be endless recycled for cows in Derbyshire.

The bulls were know only as that bloody beast.

So glad that the arrangement with the neighbor has produced such usefull info along with everything else.


At 6/07/2008 8:17 AM, Blogger Chile said...

I'll trade ya one good neighbor like that for all the idiots on my street!

At 6/07/2008 4:35 PM, Blogger Danielle said...

Just checked in to see how the cow days were going. Definitely don't watch tv so the Meadow reference flew right over my airy head. I think it's a lovely name for a cow.

The deal sounds like a wonderful one to me. The only thing I'd want to check out was potential disease issues. We run closed herds and check for diseases every other year, so that's a pretty big concern for us. Too many things can be shared, imo, from parasites to more problematic things.

Just a thought...

Glad to hear all is going well. Our cow arrived 2 weeks ago, and we're finally settling in, though I wish the flies wouldn't make themselves quite so much at home. Just spread our first order of fly predators, so hopefully that will begin to help our Bella.

Touch the Earth Farm

At 6/07/2008 10:16 PM, Blogger e4 said...

Danielle - tell me about it with the flies! We thought about the fly predators, but unless our neighbors (with 3 horses and 6 llamas on about 2.5 acres of pasture) don't participate, we'll just get all their flies anyway.

Luckily our chickens like to scratch around a bit in their pasture, so that probably keeps it from being even worse, but it's still been pretty bad.

The "natural" dairy fly spray is toxic to birds, and our vet told me that none of the sprays or powders are really very effective any more anyway.

I'd heard that an "organic" cleaning product called Basic H was supposed to be somewhat effective, but I spray it right onto the flies and they don't really seem to care.

My most effective strategy so far has been to try to brush off the flies before she comes into the barn, and then close up the barn after she's in, so it's as dark as possible while I'm milking.

It's not perfect, but it's been a big improvement...


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