Well, after 3 1/2 months of milking, I decided to sell the cow and calf. Our current family schedule just doesn’t accommodate the demand of owning a family cow.
In the morning I have to spend 40 minutes to milk, feed and clean. Then another 20 minutes in the evening to feed and clean. Kay has to spend at least 60 minutes to filter the milk, make kefir and wash all the milking equipment. Each milking require a minimum of 3 persons at the barn. All in all, it takes a lot of time and effort to get just a couple liters of raw milk a day.
However, we will still look for a family cow some day, may be in the spring. Lessons learned:
Don’t rush and buy a cow. Take your time and look for one that fits all your requirement. For our next cow, we want a A2A2 cow under 4 years old.
Smaller cow is preferred. The one we had consumes at least 1 square bale of hay every day. Next time, we would choose high quality milk (A2A2) of lesser quantity over abundance of lower quality one.
Owning a family cow is a chore! Expect to spend 1 hour a day to take care of your cow. That is if you want to keep a clean and comfortable living/milking area for the animal.
A cow is a big animal. In order to handle a cow safely, a halter with leading rope is a must.
A water bucket with heating element is a must if you intend to keep the cow (or any animal) during winter.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience for all of us to be able to hand milk and drink fresh raw milk.
In order to make milking easier, we decided to build a elevated milking stanchion/platform. The dimension is 72 inches long, 36 inches wide and about 9 inches high. We use free pallet as the base, add a sheet of plywood on top and use 2×4 for the posts.
At hindsight, the platform would be much sturdier if we use 4×4 posts but 2×4 still works.
We also build a small ramp for the cow to exist the milking station.
This is the milking station
2 layers of pallets (free!)
We put some grain, grass and carrots in the feeder while milking.
One fixed board and a movable one make up the head gate. It is about 7.5 inches wide.
The side gate will be opened for exit when milking is done.
We have since put a piece of kids’ foam mat on the ramp to prevent slippery.
The cow in the station. The station is barely long enough for our cow!
I haven’t posted any new blog lately because we are so busy adjusting our mornings routine because we finally purchased our first dairy cow.
Yes, we have a cow now, and her steer calf.
“HoneyCream” (name that the children picked after many arguments) is a 6-years-old Jersey cow. She is a calm old cow but she is big and around 800 lbs (or a bit more). I am a small guy so I have to be careful around her. When she pushes I really have to brace myself and get out of the way!
Kay is meticulous when it comes to sanitization of milking equipment, cow teats and our hands. First we use a brush to dry clean Honeycream’s udder. Then we use shop towels to clean her teats follow by cotton towels with warm water to clean the udder and teats. Finally we use another towel to make sure the udder and teats are dry. Sounds like a lot of preparation but afterall, we are drinking raw milk (our only reason why we are having a cow)
So far the milking has been a lot of work (cow poop is BIG) and it takes about an hour each morning after everything is done. Hopefully as the cow learns her routine and we get more efficient, we can cut it down to half an hour. The amount of milk fluctuates from 2 litres to 7 litres per day.
We have chosen to milk her once a day (morning) and leave the calf with her for the rest of the day until 20:00 when we separate the calf and the cow. That would allow us to have more milk in the morning.
Another challenge is to train the calf to be accustomed to halter and lead rope. Hopefully the girls, being veteran lamb shower, can apply some of their skills in training the calf.
This is Honeycream, our Jersey cow.
This is her calf.
We now have a cow, a calf and 2 sheep.
To milk a cow, first pinch the top of the teats with your thumb and index finger. Then squeeze with the rest of your fingers.
It is tiring at first but with 3 people milking it is not that bad.
1 gallon of milk beside our milk can.
The milking pail.
Filtering the milk. Sometimes we have to filter twice because it is pretty dirty.
See how dirty the milk is before filtering? Dirt, hair, grass can all get in during milking.
A good day of milking would give us 7 litres.
Our hard working mama. Cleaning all the pails and towels every morning.
We have so much rain this spring and the farmer finally had the opportunity to cut and bale hay. We quickly purchased 50 square bales (need 150 a year). It is hard work to move and stack the hay but everybody helps out.
Moving hay using the small trailer pulled by the lawn tractor.
We use a pulley to move the hay to upper level in the barn.
After moving 50 bales of hay, Joshua volunteers to clean the leftover on the floor.
We had fair success in growing Cayenne and Banana peppers last year so we started to start the seedlings in early February. Joshua, our 6 years old boy are doing all the job this time! From filling the pots with soil, planting the seeds and watering time, he will be our next generation farmer.
Dear readers, for the longest time I was wondering why no body ever left comments on our website. Well, it turns out, after my children’s investigation, that I have done 2 things wrong:
I set the comments to be closed after 30 days.
I did not allow a reader to register on our website in order to leave a comment.
Apparently, it is all my fault and thanks to my smart children that I have rectify the errors. Anyway, if you want to leave a comment to any post or page on our website, you should be able to do so now.
Back in Summer, I entered a Sutton Fair creative writing class, titled “My Favorite Memory of Being in the Country”. I thought I would share it here. I enjoyed writing it as lots of memories came back that night. The fair also awarded me with a “Best in Class” ribbon, which almost moved me to tears. As a mother of 8 children, constantly trying to figure things out here and there, I was not writing for prizes and ribbons, but a free admission ticket to the fair. Every participant get a ticket. Therefore, the big ribbon was truly a big surprise and a wonderful cheer!!
My favorite memory of being in the country
My favorite memory of being in the country is seeing my children growing up on a land that is wide and beautiful.
Being raised up in a concrete forest, and living more than 150 feet high in the sky as a child myself, I am always fascinated by how my children explore in the nature. My heart sings when I see them rush through the back door and run out to the open land, as if there are tons of treasures waiting for them out there somewhere. And there are.
I suppose climbing trees is a common activity throughout centuries, but it’s never a part of my childhood. I am very thankful that my children are able to enjoy the fullness of a maple tree freely. When I look up at them in the tree, their looks tell me that they have conquered the world. And I rejoice with them.
I have never made friends with crawlies. My whole body trembles if I have to touch one! Therefore, I am absolutely bewildered to see my children playing with all these tiny little animals with their bare hands. They keep saying to me, “Mom, it’s so fun! You should try it!!” Argh… Sometimes, I really wonder if these children are mine… However, certainly I am glad that they do not inherit my weakness, and have the opportunity to grow up on dirt and grass rather than concrete.
Being in the country, my children are able to keep their 4H project lambs on our own land. One afternoon, I looked out from the kitchen window to the pasture while the lambs just dashed out real fast from the barn and ran wildly on the pasture. Then, I saw my children popped out of the barn one by one and chased crazily after these lambs. The scene was so hilarious that I literally laughed out loud!! The children told me that they were going outside to train their lambs for the Sutton Fair Sheep Show, but it seemed to me the lambs were training them for the upcoming track and field!!!
My favorite memory of being in the country will always be seeing my children growing up here on this land. It is exactly where they should have their childhood.
We have survived the first 10 years in the country. There were many great and new experiences. Unforgettable memories. However, do not ever imagine country living is romantic and relaxing. Smelling the fragrances of the lavender and listening to the birds’ chirping while lying on a hammock with a glass of lemonade in your hand under the shade of a big maple tree, certainly is not something that happens here. At least not yet.
When Derek first mentioned the idea of moving to the country, having a garden, and raising animals, I was excited and thought it would be great if we could have a horse too. However, I told him I did not think I would ever want to butcher a chicken. And he assured me that he would not force me to, but earnestly suggested that I should try. Today, we still do not have a horse. And honestly, I do not wish to have one anymore. It’s just too much work for now. As for chickens, God bless me with wonderful children that actually know how to butcher them and are eager to do it!! Thus, as of today, I still do not have to butcher any chickens! YEA!! And I did have good excuses too as I needed to hold the camera and looked after the three-year-old! =)
On a Saturday morning in late March this year, a girl rushed back home from the barn yelling, “We found a lamb!!! A lamb was born!!! A lamb was born!!!” We couldn’t believe our ears and had our mouths opened wide upon the news. We were not expecting a lamb that month!! We had no idea the ewe was actually pregnant before she came to our place!!! Sunrise, the first lamb born in our barn.
Excitement did not stop there. The next day evening, two girls went to the barn again to feed the chickens and sheep, one ran back home yelling, “White is giving birth!! White is giving birth!! We saw the head of the lamb!!!” WHAT??? White is another ewe. We all dashed out to the barn. What a sight! The ewe was walking around with the head of the lamb swinging at the back!! “Is the lamb alive??” “What should we do???” “It’s better to do nothing, just wait and see!” My six-year-old girl then anxiously asked, “Really?? Should we do something? Is the lamb dying? What should we do??” Derek was thinking if he should pull the lamb out. But the elder girls insisted that we should wait. We waited, and witnessed the amazing birth of the lamb. Our very first time.
Needless to say, the children had a lot of fun with the two lambs the following week.
The next Saturday morning, the two girls that went to the barn came back shortly after. This time, they were literally screaming in the mud room. We could hardly hear what they were trying to say, except something is dead. Someone heard, “Joshua is dead.” What?? We all rushed to the mud room and a seemingly frozen lamb was in one of the girl’s arms. All tears on her face. The lamb was Sunrise, and it looked as hard as a sculpture. Then, for all morning, we tried to revive Sunrise before the woodstove. The hope was frail, but I knew we had to go through all the possible steps, or else the girls would always think we had buried a lamb that could have lived. We read a lovely story called “Mountain Born” by Elizabeth Yates, which in the first chapter a very tiny special lamb was revived by the farmer wife. This story is always in our hearts. Therefore, we flipped books, searched on youtube, and tried a few things to warm Sunrise. I even tried a glucose injection to the stomach of the lamb. I have to admit my hands were a bit trembling. A few hours later, everyone agreed it’s gone. Sunrise was buried.
It was quite a dramatic week to say the least.
Let me share with you some other moments we had on this land.
Digging or pulling root from the dirt is always fun. “You never know what you’re gonna get!!” (As in shape, size, and quantity of course)
Harvesting garlic looks like fun too!
And we have firefighters on site, watering our trees!?!
See what a three-year-old can do!
Derek surely had fun with the rental bobcat skid steer.
One tough job here, moving the hay and straw bales up to the barn loft.
Sheep sheering using hand sheer.
Fun time with the rental riding compactor and roller.
Endless creativity with snow. Snow horses.
Skating on our pond.
There are often birdies born on our land.
Beauty of nature…
We are truly thankful to our Creator for His grace, mercy, and love.
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.
Without His love, we would not have life to see the beauty of His creation.
Without His mercy, our lives are without hope but to perish.
Without His grace, laughter and joy would be words that are unheard of.
Psalms 150 : 1 – 6
Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
We only have 1 lamb this year for processing and therefore we decided to haul it ourselves. The problem is: we don’t have a livestock trailer. A quick search online shows that there are big wire cages for pickup truck bed or trailer for sale around $250.
Being a frugal person, why don’t I try to build a cheaper one myself? So the plan is put into work:
Using only 2×4 boards. The final dimension is 3.5′ x 7′, just a little bit shy of 4′ x 8′, which is the size of my trailer.
To connect the boards, I purchased 8 of Rigid Tie Connector. They are specially designed for 2×4 boards and make exceptionally strong corners.
I use exterior wood stain of color “barn door” to protect the 2x4s.
This is where the door will be. I used 2×2 stakes to make the door.
For fence, I use 4″ x 4″ square sheep and goat galvanized fence. It comes in 100 feet roll of 48″ in height.
I use 1 1/4″ fence staples to attach the fence to the 2x4s.
For door hinge, I use 3 1/2″ regular hinge. One at the top and one at the bottom.
I use a 3 1/2″ barrel bolt as lock for the door. Again, one at the top and one at the bottom.
The finish case should be able to hold up to 3 lambs and it fits perfectly on our trailer!