Anyone who knows HWA and me at all will remember hearing us repeat often and loudly that we are not interested in raising dairy animals. Period. End of subject.
A month ago our neighbor mentioned that she was planning to get a Jersey cow and her calf. Congratulating her (and at the same time inwardly thinking “Are you nuts?”) I told her I’d be happy to buy some excess milk at some point. I’d never had raw milk and would be interested in trying it. Over the next few weeks, her plan evolved from a cow/calf to two bred heifers, until a week ago when I got a phone call from her. “Would you be interested in buying a cow?” “Um, NOOOOO!”
You’ve already guessed how this ends so I’ll just jump straight to two days ago, when our cowherd arrived.
The herd consists of a cow with her 2-week-old calf, two bred heifers and a steer who will be sent to butcher once he is big enough. All are Jerseys (dairy breed).
So how did we allow ourselves to be talked into it?
We’re still trying to figure that out ourselves. Well, obviously the lure of milk and its associated products – cream, cheese, yogurt and ice-cream – had some effect. Also, the fact that the milk is raw and organic, and that it will be one step closer to controlling our food supply. But the main factor that swayed us is that we are doing this as a cooperative with our neighbors, who have also become our good friends in the years we’ve lived next door. Like us, they have an interest in eating better food in order to maintain health. And, like us they have land available and buildings that are easily adapted to accommodate cows (who will live next door most of the time). Rather than each of us owning a couple of cows, we co-own all of them and will share both the responsibilities of caring for them and the milk and meat they provide. And it is a win-win for all of us for this reason. HWA and I had always been adamant we didn’t want dairy animals because we didn’t want to be tied to twice-a-day – or even once-a-day – milking. But by co-sharing none of us will be tied down as much, and each family will be free to travel, knowing the other will take care of things.
Cows – and dairy animals – will be a totally new learning curve for us, but we will share the journey as we take it.