Cows, Milk, and Vegetables

This week we took possession of a beautiful Jersey cow we named Beatrice.  Our cow from last year, Peanut, just couldn’t get pregnant, so we had to make the decision to bring her to the butcher.

Our new Jersey, Beatrice

It’s been quite a while now since we dried up Peanut and stopped milking, so it’s been a chore getting back into swing of things.  At this point we’re milking two times a day with portable milking machine I picked up a few days ago; it’s almost a necessity since she’s giving five gallons of milk a day!

With all the other stress we have going on with the other many moving parts of the farm, one would rightfully ask, “Why are you milking a cow?  Don’t you already have enough to do?”  Well, yes, we certainly do have enough to do already, but a milk cow is a real cornerstone for a small farm like ours.  The operative word is “complementary”…the cow complements the other activities on the farm and the other enterprises we operate.

These are the major resources a family milk cow brings:

  • Manure: We manured our entire 2 acres where we grew produce last fall and winter with manure from Peanut.  We didn’t have to haul it down a highway or pay anybody for the material or service.  Last year’s back field was a disaster, really lacking fertility and tilth.  What cured it?  You guessed it…manure.
  • Animal feed: Other animals like milk just as much as humans.  Whether milk that went bad or whey from making cheese, any excess we can’t use goes to our layers, broilers, dog, and pigs, especially the pigs…they will kill for milk.  This cuts down feed bills and makes for a healthier animal.  This doesn’t even count the calf we’ll raise with the cow.  Last year’s calf brought in some much needed money in the middle of the winter after going to auction.  
  • Any dairy product you can imagine: We drink milk, make cheese, half and half, whipping cream, cream cheese, sour cream, butter milk, kefir, butter…need I go on? 
  • Companionship: A family milk cow is different from other livestock.  She becomes a member of the family, spending time every day brushing her and talking with her.  Sorry, pigs, I don’t feel the same way about you 🙂 
  • Beauty: I always say, we only do pretty produce, but, really, we aspire to make as beautiful a place as possible.  There’s nothing more beautiful than a Jersey grazing on a dewey early-morning pasture or head down at sunset.  Ah…that’s why we do this.  
In the box:
  • Tomatoes!  Hey, they have finally come in.  Everybody got a pint of cherry tomatoes and a 1-2 early varieties.  The orange variety is called ‘Orange Blossom’ and the yellow variety is called ‘Taxi.’
  • Beets: A mix of either traditional red with Chiogga (Bright red on outside) or Touchstone Gold
  • Celery: This is the best celery I’ve ever grown.  MN celery typically gets tough and stringy, but this isn’t that way…the ribs are big and full of flavor (sorry, California, your celery tastes like water). 
  • ‘Westlander’ Kale
  • A ‘Red Long of Tropea’ and a ‘Alisa Craig’ or ‘Walla Wall’ Sweet Onion
  • A Cucumber 
  • ‘Norland’ Potatoes

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