Thursday, January 29, 2009


"Another cow, is that what we need?" This was the question hunny responded with when I mentioned it. It was more of an exclamation than a question. I gave him the run down of why we had Misty. We needed the milk to feed the baby goats and we were used to the butter, yogurt and homemade cheese. Misty was due to "dry up" soon. She was to freshen in three months. He said he could see my logic but what, where were we going to house another cow. I mentioned it was nice weather and we could build a lean-to large enough for the two of them till we could make better accommodations. He consented reluctantly.

I don't think he thought I would find a cow so quickly but only two days passed and the feed store called and said a customer that lived just a mile away had a milk cow available. I called and we went to look at "Lizzy". Mind you we were used to our wonderful demure Jersey. Lizzy was an eye opener. Her back was taller than I stood. If I reached up I could barely rest my arm on her back. She was looking at us, her eyes were wild. the owners said she wasn't used to strangers. I asked if I could try to milk her. They said sure and proceeded to put out grain for her and gave me a bucket to sit on and a bucket to milk into. Lizzy had only been fresh a few days and her bag was very full and tight. I was afraid she wasn't going to let me milk her, but that wasn't the case. She acted relieved at the prospect. She was easy to milk the people said don't milk too much leave some for the calf. Mentally I was thinking you haven't milked this cow enough she is too bagged up. The calf wasn't consuming as much milk as she was giving.

I was pleased with the cow and asked if they could deliver her the next day. (mentally I was afraid the poor cow would get mastitis if she stayed as bagged up as she was.) The poor calf, I had no idea what was going to happen to him. They said he had already been sold. They said no problem she'd be there tomorrow afternoon.

The afternoon arrived and the neighbor pulled up with the cow. He was in a baby blue pick up with stock sides on the bed. Finding a place to back the truck up to to unload Lizzy proved to be something we hadn't thought about. I forgot to mention, Our other cow misty had the run of the place. She was so placid and never bothered anything, didn't even try to go out of the gate when it was open. We had never had to make a fence to keep her in. She was surveying the truck scene and acting weird about the truck backing up to the terrace. All of a sudden Misty takes off and rams the truck. When she backed off there was a noticeable dent in the side. (I haven't mentioned, Misty has horns). I ran up to grab her halter and pull her back. This is easier said than done. She may be a Jersey and smaller than the normal Holstein, but she was still close to 1000 lbs. She is a very well fed Jersey.
Lizzy, gave Misty the eye and proceeded to act wilder than when she met us. We wondered if she had ever seen another cow. We put her in the pen and she proceeded to test the electric fence. I was happy she had had the experience of an electric fence before she came to live with us.
As Lizzy is making the trek around the pen she comes to the side that is a wooden fence. It separates her and misty from our pigs pen. We only have one occupant in the pen. He is being raised for dinner. "Porky" came to the fence to sniff the new neighbor. She did not like that at all and started bawling. Porky turned around and went back to his mud puddle. Lizzy didn't calm down until she found the bin filled with alfalfa hay. She started munching like she hadn't had a meal in months. when Misty came up to see what she was doing Lizzy turned and gave her a big push. Our gentle little Misty looked back at us as if to say, "what do I do now?" i went and got her a flake of hay. I put it in on the other side of the pen and pushy miss Lizzy came running over to take possession. Misty, not one for confrontation, headed for the Hay feeder and was very content to eat the remaining hay.
I wish this was the end of Lizzy story, but she continued to make trouble of the worst kind for us. Wasn't the cow who knocked over the lantern and was responsible for the Chicago fire named Lizzy(Or was it the lady's name)?

Saturday, January 17, 2009


On an Internet group I am on we've been discussing the cold, and more cold. How much we hate it. We've also been reminiscing about things that happened in the cold. This brought to mind all my farm experiences which I can say are excruciating in the cold. I have written about some of my chicken stories. Hopefully my reminisces will be enjoyed by you.

This is the first of many cow ownership stories:

Years ago when our son was almost six and our daughter was four and half we acquired our first cow. Her name was Misty. She was a gorgeous Golden Jersey.

Friends, we’d met through buying a goat had come upon hard times and needed to sell her. She had been hand raised on the bottle. The market for live stock was really down and for milking cows was nil. They didn’t want to sell her for meat and couldn’t stand the idea to butcher her for their own use. She was their baby. We had the space and we had the pasture so we agreed to purchase her from them for what they would get if they had to sell her for "beef on the hoof".

Misty arrived late in the evening after she had been milked by her "mom". (It’s not good to transport a cow with a full udder. If she would fall she could damage her udder.) She was put in her stall and given the nicest alfalfa hay we had and a 5 gallon pail of cold well water. We knew she would have to be stalled for at least a week until she got used to her new surroundings and new owners. We didn’t want her out until she recognized our voices and we knew she would come when we called.

The next morning everyone was up early. This is not normal, usually it is only me that gets up early to do the chores. The kids were excited they wanted to see me milk the cow. Why this was cause for excitement I had no idea. We get down to the barn and put the harness on Misty and lead her out of her stall. While I was tying her up to milk, Hunny was in cleaning up the stall and giving her clean water and hay. I pulled up a plastic box container, the kind milk is delivered in and turned it upside down. Our son says, “What’s that for?” I told him it was to sit on so I could milk. We had goats, the goats climbed up on the stanchion to be milked and I sat down beside them to milk. The kids had not realized the cow just stands there.

I sit down, grab the five gallon bucket and start milking. Milking the cow is no different than milking a goat except the teats are a little larger, so you have a bigger handful. I was real lucky; Misty was an extremely easy cow to milk. It was like turning on a faucet. You hardly had to squeeze at all.

I was getting nervous; our son was walking back and forth behind the cow while I was milking. I knew Misty was very gentle but didn’t know how nervous she would be with the new surroundings (with a different set of hands on her private parts). I kept telling him to get away (when a cow kicks backwards there is no warning they just kick and their accuracy is phenomenal). All of a sudden I holler, “What is your problem why do you keep walking behind the cow, bending over and looking under her?”

“I’m thinking.” Then he says. “I am trying to figure out what you’re going to do with the other two.”