The City Girl Farmer


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

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. 🙂

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Butter
July 28, 2011, 12:23 pm
Filed under: Cheese & Other Dairy Products, Cows | Tags: , , ,

Butter ready for the freezer

Some readers have been wondering what I’ve been up to lately.  Well, here you go!  I’ve been making cultured butter and lots of it.  Tiddles gives us about 5 gallons of milk a day and making butter is one way to use it all up.

Cultured butter can be made by adding a store-bought culture to the cream but it can also be made the old-fashioned way of using cream that has been allowed to sit at room temperature for 1-2 days.  The advantage of the store-bought culture is that you control what bacteria is predominant in flavoring the cream.  The advantage to the old-fashioned way is that it’s quick, easy and cheap.  I have been quite pleased with the results of the latter method so that is what I have been using.

Here is how I do it:

  • skim cream into a separate bowl and chill
  • add cream to food processor, and using the bread dough blade, process until the butter breaks
  • line a sieve with cheesecloth or butter muslin and dump the butter and butter milk into the sieve
  • allow the buttermilk to drain away from the butter for a few minutes
  • wash the butter under cold running water and add salt to taste (if desired)
  • form the butter using a mold or by hand and store

That’s it.  Simple as can be and really tasty!

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Rosie Had Her Baby
February 8, 2011, 12:54 pm
Filed under: Cows | Tags: , ,

Rosie had been looking very uncomfortable for several days.  Think whale.   Her bag had been full for a little over a week and the ligaments next to her tail head were relaxed for about the same amount of time.  Baggy vulva, too, and her gait had started to look unstable.  Two days before the calf was born, I took some pictures because I was so convinced it had to be soon. That was Thursday night.

I checked on her Friday evening before I went to bed and she looked pretty much the same as she had the night before.

Rosie's rear end

Rosie two days before calving

 

Saturday morning Jon went out around 8:00 a.m. and informed me that there was no change in Rosie.  I thought, “Great!  We’ll have bacon and eggs for breakfast and then go out and do the barn chores and milk Tiddles.”  I was still in my jammies anyway.  When we were done eating, I began to clear the table and Jon went out again.  He came right back in and announced, “There is a little calf standing next to Rosie in the corral!!”  That was at 9:30 a.m.  Obviously, there had been a change in Rosie; just one that had gone unnoticed!  So I hurried and got dressed and here are some pictures of what I found.

 

Rosie and her new heifer calf

Newborn calf

 

Rosie’s little heifer calf was born around 9:30 a.m. on an unseasonably warm winter’s day, January 29, 2011.  We reached a high of 74 degrees that day.  Unfortunately that great weather didn’t last long….

 

 



Meet Tiddles
September 17, 2010, 4:35 pm
Filed under: Cows | Tags: , , , , , ,

Tiddles

Tiddles is our new milk cow.  It was no small project adopting her!  I bought her from a dairy farmer in Wyoming.  She was supposed to have come in August but there were several delays and she ended up being a month late.  I hope the new mothers in my life will forgive the analogy but the whole process has really reminded me of having a baby.  She’s been here five days now and the day she was delivered all I could think about was when the cow would finally get here and of course, it took forEVER.  Once she was finally here, everything changed.  All of a sudden a few more hours each day are sucked out of my schedule as I figure out the new routine.  I’m sure that as the muscles in my hands become re-accustomed to milking we’ll shave some of the time off.   In the mean time, I feel somewhat overwhelmed.

I finally have a bit of extra milk, so it will be yogurt and cheese time very soon.  For now we have all the most creamy, delicious milk you could want to drink.   Thomas made coffee ice cream today and tried out the milk shake machine I inherited from our neighbor.  Mmmmm.  THAT’s why we do this.  It just doesn’t get any better.



Good-Bye Lilly
February 24, 2010, 4:09 pm
Filed under: Cows | Tags: , , ,

Lilly the day after we got her

We had to put Lilly down a little over a week ago.  I have been too sad to blog about it.  Now I think I might feel better if I tell her  story.  She went down early Sunday morning during a VERY cold snap.   I knew from when she had gone down before that we had 24 hours to get her up.  So we tried with no luck and decided to just set her up with food and water nearby and try again when we got home from church.  We couldn’t get her up that evening either and decided we would call the vet in the morning if she wasn’t up by herself.  She must have tried about a dozen times, each time too weak to make it all the way.

Lilly after milking a week before she died

The vet came out and told us she needed to be euthanized.  Right up to the end she hadn’t seemed that sick.  She was alert, eating and drinking and so we continued to hope.  It took Jon and I both a couple of hours to come to grips with what we needed to do.  The doctor took blood and stool samples to run three different tests.   After he left we called another farmer to make sure we knew how to put her down so that she wouldn’t suffer.  We talked about who should shoot her, both of us trying to protect the other from the inevitable psychic trauma of putting down a pet.  Jon did the deed, and well I might add.  She stopped breathing in a couple of seconds.  He said there was hardly any mess.

This morning I got a call from the vet.  She died from Johne’s disease.  It’s official name is Mycobacterium paratuberculosis.  It infects the intestines and the animal catches it as a baby.  It is latent until the animal is 2 or 3 years old.  Eventually they develop the symptoms Lilly had:  diarrhea, healthy appetite, no fever but wasting.  It does not respond to antibiotics and is always fatal. 😦

So now we know.  There was nothing I could have done that would have saved her and I suppose I am somewhat relieved that it wasn’t some gross failure of mine that caused her death.  I thought this news would make me feel better but actually I feel like a scab was torn off and I find I am quite depressed.  I have great admiration for the tough old farmers who undoubtedly took things like this in stride.  I, on the other hand, am a city girl and need time to learn to take these things in stride.  I wonder if I have enough years left.

Coming away after a good, long drink at the trough a week before she died