We bought a cow.

 

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For a while I thought it was the wrong decision. I committed to buying this cow assuming that hay prices were the same as the last time I looked. I asked all the questions that I thought I needed to ask, about her personality, udder and teat size, when she’d last calved, and so on. I forgot to ask whether she likes to eat grass.

She stands in various places in the paddock, looking around with her big Jersey cow eyes, I worry that she’s sad or underfed. I feel inexperienced. It’s not like with our backyard goats, where we just fill their hay up, they eat it, we fill it up again, they’re visibly healthy, and we can hear them from the house if there are any problems. We have to get in the car to go to our cow. When she first arrived, I could see some of her ribs, some people say this is normal for Jersey cows, I am not sure. I think she’s in better condition now than she was when she arrived.

The previous owner was feeding her cow pellets and bakery scraps. I wonder if the transition for her from this diet to one mostly based on grass is like someone transitioning from eating junk food to healthy food, and maybe she’ll start grazing properly soon.

I think she’d like another cow for company, but I worry that another cow might also not graze much, and add to the already enormous feed costs. I look into miniature cattle. I like Scottish Highland the most of these smaller breeds, they were originally a dual purpose cow but are now mostly kept as pets here. They’re said to eat a better variety of green food than other breeds. Even with their smaller size, they’re still a huge animal, and it’s hard to say what an animal will be like once they reach our land, and there’s the possibility that our grass is just not very good at the moment.

It’s a big learning curve going from goats to a cow. For a while I thought I was more of a goat person than a cow person, but I also like butter and cream a lot, and the more time I spend with the cow, the more I like her. At first I preferred the taste and texture of our goats milk, but now I think I’ve converted to the wonderful creamy Jersey cow milk. I am still a bit scared just because of the size of her, and that I’m not used to cows. Once you’ve started milking a goat, the milk flow doesn’t slow down until she’s running out of milk. Milking a cow, she seems to hold back milk for a minute, and then it will flow well again later on, randomly, each quarter seems to either be full or milk or nearly empty, and then full again. I think I’m getting used to it now, and she’s getting used to me.

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Creamy raw Jersey cow milk

We’re going to our land every day now. I love to sit there and milk the cow in the warmth of the sunshine. I’ve had to cut out the time I would usually work on this blog in order to do this, and I haven’t quite settled into things. It’s stressful sometimes, to not have this quiet time any more, but to observe things on our land, walking over areas that will soon be garden and orchard and house site, might be making up for it.

But now we might have to sell her, and move to the wilderness, but that’s another story…

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