Monday, August 11, 2008

The Pasture

I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha'n't be gone long. You come too.

I'm going out to fetch the little calf
That's standing by the mother. It's so young,
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I sha'n't be gone long. You come too.
~ Robert Frost

At the end of March we joined a dairy association so we could drink healthy, organic, fresh, raw milk. In April the cows freshened (had their calves) and with the new green pastures of spring, the milk was delicious and plentiful, if not a little grassy tasting. I discovered that skimming the cream off the top and drinking just the milk really helped with the taste those first several weeks.

By May the pastures were mature and the milk had lost that grassy flavor and we were drinking the whole milk. Soon, our half share - about 1 gallon a week - was not enough and then in June the rains tapered off and the cows were going through the pastures more quickly. With milk production down through June and July, I was looking for a way to be able to add another half share. 

The milkers get paid, so by joining the milking schedule we could afford the other half share. My turn came last week and after two days of training with another milker, I was on my own with 6 cows, 1 yearling heifer and 3 heifer calves. The routine is very precise and completely wonderful. For seven evenings, I get to unwind on an 82 acre farm, take care of the girls and be surrounded by nature. It was an utterly sublime experience (no pun intended) and in just six weeks I get to do it all over again! 


ANGEL said...

Ya know I was wondering what the "milking cows" comment meant on FaceBook ;] Josh filled me in Friday...pretty stinkin cool Jen!!

Will they let ya come out and watch cause I'd love to see it done in person!

Love you!!!!!

jodyfoznot said...

How awesome, Jeny! I personally think you'd make a great homesteader! Are you able to take the kids so they can participate too?

Love you,

jeny said...

Josh came out Saturday night to watch/help and mom came with me last night. The cows and I listen to Mozart and I don't talk to them while I'm actually milking . . .they prefer the quiet. Since I'm milking for about 50 families, I want to make sure to get as much pumped as possible. So I don't think we'll take the kids while the girls are actually giving their milk, but they can't wait to see the farm and the cows. If it was just for us, it would be a different story. We'll see . . . maybe Noah since he's older and can be quiet.
I asked Susan, who owns the farm and started the association, if I could bring anyone with me and she was ok as long as my visitor stayed out of the milking parlor while the machines were on. But you could peek in, I keep the door open. Maybe my next turn . . .

Kristine said...

I'm glad to hear the week went well and there were no broken toes in the process.:) I'll go pick my own fruit, grow my own vegtables, and bake and cook from scratch but milking a cow is where I draw the line in organic living.:) LOL I guess it's not so much the milking as it is trying to push that many cows around to where you want them to go. I feel a panic attack coming on just thinking about it.:) I

Jayme said...

I'm so proud of you, Jen and rather inspired, I have to admit...Scott's been talking about wanting a farm for some time now, and I'm having a bit of a hard time getting onboard...but if we could be homesteaders, as Jody puts it, together, that would be pretty cool!

Senae said...

That's wonderful Jeny!!