|Black is on the left and Spring on the right.|
Until now we stuck with the apples orchard which we will be hitting hard this year. Ben and I walked through twenty acres of apple trees this last weekend and they were mostly in good shape. Sadly one was completely crushed by the snow, something that happens here regularly. We have two apple trees this year that are a complete loss. We know that we are going to need to also add some more trees this year, and not just apple. A plum tree by the house is barely making it and the recently added cherry tree is not going to make it. We had initially planned to start bees in the orchard this year both for the health of the orchard and my second oldest son's love of bees. He has has been helping out the priest at the Orthodox mission with his hives and he loves it. But since needing raw milk is a real and daily issue, we have decided our own hives can wait a year and instead we will invest in a dairy cow.
The 4H leader lives down the road and their family provides our beef. She and her husband (who came from dairy farmers) stopped by to do an initial audit. They walked through and looked at what we had and told us what we would need so that we can be prepared. There is a lot to think about. I mean, food for it, just for starters. That is a huge deal. We will need to hay 3-4 acres for each cow in order to get it through the winters. A cow will eat a bale a day and that is a lot of hay. Then there is the water that they will drink and the twice a day milking and then the, uh, mothering-up of the cow. We do not have a bull so this will involve a class, some shoulder length gloves, and a good bit of courage. Dang.
So, to help us get our muck boots wet, I am taking the teenage boys over to help with the afternoon milking. They need to get comfortable with the cows and the milking machine and the cleaning up before and after so that it won't be a shock to us and the cow when it comes it the first milking in a week.
Well, a week and a day from this writing. We will get the cow next Friday. Oh my gosh it is getting so dang reeeaaaallll now. In a week there will be a cow in the north fields. Wow. And maybe a steer. William had a steer that I just could not stop trying to pet. It would tolerate it for a minute, but only a minute, but that did not stop me. We could put it with the cow to keep her from getting lonely seeing as how she came from a herd of twenty and then we could process him next fall. Or this fall if we don't make enough hay. My son wants to make a total of eight acres just to make sure and that is a tall order.
In the meantime, we have to decide between two cows; both are mostly Jersey mixes with easygoing personalities and one has some Holstein markings. The black one is taller and the udder is higher up which keeps it cleaner. Ben thinks that no matter which we get (Black or Spring) we should rename it Io. Because he is awesome. If we get the steer also, Ben thinks we should call it Zeus. How cool would that be?
Sorry for the crappy cell phone photo. It was relatively dark in the milking parlor and I did not bring my good camera to go milk muddy cows. Maybe we are taking the crazy hippie couple moving out to the woods with a pack of children thing too far but in the end, we can literally eat our investment and that is not a bad deal.