Our new calf “Merida” has been with us for three days now. She is as adorable and enthusiastic about life as we could possibly hope for. Her mother Sugar Dot is also doing well and is starting to adjust to her new role as mother and homestead milk cow.
If I am being honest, yesterday I had a complete meltdown about my ability to care for this dairy cow. Having two very small children with me, who don’t necessarily want to accompany me out to the barn to do chores was weighing heavily on me. Sugar Dot likes to kick and it was taking me nearly an hour to get even a half gallon of milk. Googling “how long does it take to milk a cow” only increased my anxiety. Ready to call it quits by 1:00 PM, exhausted, stinky and bewildered, I came across an article on Theprairehomestead.com. It was just what I needed, a reminder that lactating, especially for the first time is tough on everyone.
Just like mothers who plan to breastfeed our new babies, we have visions of long gazes into each other’s eyes, making a deep emotional connection and enjoying a quiet blissful moment. The reality of the situation is, that for the first couple days you are both crying, hungry and covered with milk and feces. I have found this is exactly true for new mother cows and the crazy people who plan to milk them. Practice and patience are clearly required in order to survive the ordeal.
Today I am happy to report that our little milking session went much better. Instead of setting a quantity, I set a time. Low and behold in that shorter time frame I was able to convince that sweet girl to give me more milk than I had been struggling for all the previous day. We had the same success again this afternoon. Both of us are much more comfortable with this new arrangement. Make no mistake, she is totally in it for the grain and apples she gets as a bribe to stand still.
I am proud of my milking adventure today, and in an odd sense, I was happy to be able to connect mom to mom with our Jersey girl. I get it, becoming a mother is awkward enough without other people poking and prodding. But in the end, everyone adjusts and finds happiness in the new way of life.
For those wondering, yes I did gently pasturize this milk. It is delicious! Also be sure to take a look at this evenings happenings in the Tuesday Dinners section!