The City Girl Farmer

Cow Shares Available Now!
February 8, 2013, 2:57 pm
Filed under: Cows, Raw milk | Tags: , , , ,

Heifer calf born November 3rd

Well, we have decided to take the dive and do a cow share program at City Girl Farm.  I have been hesitant because we only have Tiddles, our family cow, not a herd of dairy cattle.  That makes the risk for the shareholders a little higher since if something were to go wrong and her lactation ended, there aren’t other cows there to take over.  On the other hand she produces what a herd of 5 or 6 goats produce so there is plenty of milk!  Plus, nothing beats fresh Jersey milk.  It’s the best!  But my children are getting older (one is gone half the time) and we just can’t drink enough milk, make enough cheese, butter and yogurt to keep up with what she produces after having calved in November.

I also see I owe an apology to the people who followed me for having fallen of the planet the last year.  For those of you who care, here are my (pathetic) excuses:

  • lost one farm hand to school and then to work
  • lost another farm hand to a European vacation last summer
  • attended sacred music training last summer
  • became the choir director at my church

Ah!  I fear I will always be torn between the city and the farm.  Glad to be back, though. 🙂

We Don’t Always Win
February 12, 2010, 6:13 pm
Filed under: Cows | Tags: , , ,

Whenever I write, I try to avoid making our life sound perfect.  I can’t think of another life I’d trade (well, that may not be entirely true) for the life we’re living but we have disappointments, setbacks and failures like everyone else.  So I thought I’d share one of those disappointments.

Shortly after we got Lilly, we discovered that she had mastitis.  Of course it happened when we were having record cold temperatures, which is no laughing matter in Colorado.  I tried my essential oils since they had worked so well on the goat and they didn’t change the course of the infection.  It just got worse.  I finally gave in and we were giving Penicillin shots once again.  Man, I hate giving shots!  Of course the milk had to be wasted so we didn’t drink a bunch of antibiotics, too.

After that was over, her milk production gradually went from a sickly 3/4 gallon per day to close to two gallons per day.  I was thrilled!  I started to make yogurt and quark and was looking forward to fromage blanc and other experiments…..and then production started to drop.  And then Lilly wasn’t eating so much.  I didn’t worry because she was happy looking and drinking plenty of water.  It turns out she liked our neighbor’s hay better and was probably loading up on that.  “What’s wrong with that?” you might be thinking.  Our neighbor has beef cattle and the protein level in the feed is not sufficient to keep a cow in milk.  That’s what’s wrong with that.

We decided at that point we’d pen her up so we could control her feed and after about 5 days she just stopped eating.  I forgot to mention the terrible explosive diarrhea that she developed as this was all happening.  It was so liquid I had to stare to notice it was greenish and not yellowish water and was, therefore, poo.   I couldn’t reach my cow mentor and I  broke down and called the vet.  He’s 30 miles away and was very happy to talk to me on the phone instead of coming out.  He prescribed some electrolyte replacements and vitamins, told me we needed to jump-start the fermentation vat (her rumen) because it had become too acidic from too much grain and alfalfa.  What she needed was more low-protein grass.  So after about a 24 hour hunger strike, she is eating again.  Low protein grass.  The kind you feed them when you don’t want milk any more.

I am not giving up yet, though.  Even though we’re getting about a cup of milk a day now, we’re still getting something and if I can get her through this gastrointestinal crisis, maybe her milk will come back to an amount that is at least worth the effort to milk.

Lilly at the trough with a very empty looking udder

Putting pills down a cow with a bolus gun warrants another post of its own.