Sunday, November 21, 2010

Milking tips welcome!

So the learning continues here at Barnyard Organics where our latest and largest challenge is Rosie's preference during milking.  I think we're slowly breaking the habit with some good jabs talking to's.  We've also refined things a bit with a sturdy floor for milking, versus the bedpack and found that even though we're sharing the milk with Mark's sister, we simply can't use it all fast enough, so are trying letting the calf out with her most of the time.  We milk her out twice a day and still have lots, so until there seems to be a problem, I think this will work best for everyone.  
This is another case of Mark doing something that is usually not done, or even frowned upon by most farmers and me playing the role of doubting Thomas, giving all the reasons it shouldn't work.  Why don't more one-cow milkers leave the calf with the cow? Why don't any of the hippie family cow books that I have, discuss that as a real option?  Is it because more people use more milk than we do?  Is it bad for the cow? I'm watching diligently for signs of mastitis, but it seems to reason that as long as we are milking her out dry twice a day, it should be fine, right?

Anyway, I guess we'll see.  Here's a rather bug-eye picture of Miss Poppy who is much cuter in person.  She's got a very 'beefy' build to her, but a cute little face.  We're not sure of her future yet, but for now she makes for good giggles as she bounds around the barn. 
Not much else new here.  Got a nice dose of snow last night and Lucy and I have been having some delicious white mitt-fulls for snacks (although not enough for a full bowl yet).  Cracking the layer of ice on the water troughs has been added to the chore list, but other than that, life is trucking along quite nicely.  
I had a nice, quick visit to my home in NB and came back with a dish of maple butter, which along with the Jersey cream and a guilty conscience that left with the warm weather, has been making for a rounder me.  

Since I've been a bit lacking on the rants lately, I'll just leave you with this.
I see where fast-food giant, Wendy's, is advertising "Natural Fries" because they have sea salt, rather than regular salt.  I think this is a perfect example of just how fluent and useless the word "natural" is when it comes to our food.  There are no standards, no requisites, NOTHING that makes something natural other than the label.  So, when you're looking at a product that says it's natural, remember that it could mean that the farmer just doesn't want to certify organic for some reason, or it could mean that they're using sea salt rather than table salt, could mean nothing at all. If you really want to be sure, go with a standard that has a set of strict rules, is enforced and monitored; like organic certification.  Just sayin'.    

Here are my sous-chefs at work, testing the durability of my kitchen drawers.
Hope this finds you cuddled up cozy enjoying the first true signs of winter!



  1. Okay Sal:
    Fess up....UNLESS Mark is a much younger man than I thought: how can that supposed picture of him as a pre-schooler from a few blogs sporting the exact same shirt that Wilson is wearing in the photo in this blog?
    Or did I misread the earlier blog??
    It really makes no difference...because Wilson certainly looks like the Bernard men.

    Oh yes....I spotted the Natural fries on the poster too... maybe it was alluding to leaving the skin on as well....that would make them...ultra natural??

  2. Hey Sally
    Since you're asking for milking tips...
    I know a lot of families who just milk once a day if they leave the calf with the cow. They usually leave them together throughout the day, separate at night, and milk in the morning. And even then, have way too much milk! Maybe now you need a pig to drink that extra milk? No?
    Are you going to venture into butter making, and learn the art of other dairy treats?? If you are, I'd love to hear about it!

  3. What we used to do, was keep the calf and the cow separated from early evening and over night and milk the cow in the early morning before letting them both out for the day. Prior to milking we would wash the udder with warm water and soap. The calf would take all the cow's milk during the day. That way we only milked the cow once per day and the milk supply was manageable for one family. We shared ours with neighbours...we would get enough milk for 4 people.

    Pleased you asked and hope that helps.

  4. Melanie said exactly what I was thinking. We had read just that in more than a few places. We are planning to add a milk cow to our farm someday and were planning to only milk "part-time". Shouldn't be a problem from what I've read. Good luck!

    ps...Ms. Poppy is very cute indeed.

  5. Hi guys, daisy had her heifer calf 3 days ago and they are doing well. The calf has the same milk chocolate colour as yours, really friggin cute. I have left the calf on her mother and will be weaning later this week with the plan of milking as melanie suggested. i also have a portable milking unit so that my fore arms dont get too big, lol. this way i can fill buckets and feed pigs while the ol' cow is milking. talk soon, roy.

  6. Hi, Sally,

    Late comments!

    Milk-sharing: We did what Melanie suggests: We take away the calf at night -- despite what we thought, it didn't seem to be a stress at all for either -- and milk well in the morning, and then let the calf be there all day. We usually started this about 2-3 weeks after the calf was born (until then milking twice daily due to her dairy-cow production), and with the heifer calf we were keeping, kept this up for months. It made for a happy cow and calf (OK, not for the first few minutes when reunited with little milk in the udder) and still lots of milk for us. The only trouble of course it that the heifer may want to to continue nursing after you have determined she should be weaned, but there are ways around this.

    Too much milk!: When we weaned or sold a calf, we would go to twice daily milking. There are fairly easy mozzarella cheese recipes that make a half pound of cheese out of a gallon of milk in about half and hour, so that's a good way to deal with extra milk. If you have a pig or chickens they can still get the whey! There are cottage cheese and hard cheese recipes that require a bit more time and materials, but it's great to make the extra milk into other dairy products for you and your family.

    Bucket-wise: we put the steel bucket in a white bucket that we put a chunk of wood in to hold it up. That way the steel bucket never touches the stall floor and it's elevated to whatever height you need to hit the bucket more often. We can shift the plastic bucket with our feet to accommodate her shifting, and yank the steel bucket out quickly if she really moves or kicks or starts to pee or plop. It keeps the milk bucket cleaner! The plastic bucket lives outside the stall with the milking stool (a sawed-down kitchen stool from Canadian Tire).

    Best wishes!