Have you been wondering about our dairy herd?
I thought you might be.
I had to stop milking at the end of January because of my pregnancy. Extreme morning sickness and cows, manure, ballage, hay and even the milk did not mix well for me. Actually when I'm pregnant, all smells become my enemies - even some of my favorite things. Sadly, many things are ruined for me for life because even after the baby is born, I still have an aversion to that particular smell. I've lost more favorite candles that way.
And so I had to quit milking.
We dried the girls in February anyway. For the last two months of their pregnancies dairy cows are not milked so all their nutrients can go into their developing calves. We dry all our girls at the same time, so there are two months without milk, and then they should all start up about the same time when they freshen.
The cows, if bred on time should all freshen in April - that is, give birth - and they are surprisingly accurate with their due date. If she's due on the 12th, she'll most likely freshen on the 12th. All but one of the girls bred on time and should freshen this month. One of them will freshen next month.
A few days after the calf is born, he is removed from his mother and bottle fed and she is milked for human consumption.
Meet our new babies!
Jack, a bull calf, was the first to arrive from our yearling heifer Jiffy Pop. Being a first time mama, and a bit persnickety, she wouldn't let him nurse for a couple of days so Jack was bottlefed from day one. This is a very tiresome process for the farmer since babies are almost constantly attached to the teat!
Blackie freshened with Black Jack another bull calf just a few days later. When the farmer found him the morning of his birth, he was running around kicking up his heals. He's a very robust boy.
Five days overdue, Quatro's heifer calf came early Easter morning. So much for bulls coming late and heifers coming early!
As far as I know, the new little girls don't have names yet.
The heifers will be kept to grow our herd and one of the bulls will be our stud in 2010. He can be bred to everyone except a sister.
That's the news from the farm for now, though I think we're expecting four more in the next week or two.
Our first milk delivery should be next weekend and we are so looking forward to that rich, creamy, full fat, raw organic milk!
*edit: the vet was out to the farm yesterday and Rosie and Lucy look like they won't freshen until May. But Rosie does have a big calf, so she may be ready in 10 days after all and she may just be a cow whose utter fills at the last minute.
And I forgot that the large Dutch belted Gator was traded for a smaller Buttercup and she's due in May too. And poor Popcorn had to be butchered, so I guess we're only waiting for three more babies.