I have a HUGE announcement to make about a new addition to our homestead. Ok, so maybe the title of this post and the giant picture above gave it away. I just can’t contain it anymore, I have to share it with the world. We are getting our very first family milk cow!!! You probably remember Gertie from an earlier post about her and her calf. Well, Gertie is coming to our homestead to be
mine, all mine part of our farm family. Here is how my dream (years in the making) came true……
Welcoming a new member to the homestead.
Several years ago I began reading about the health benefits of raw milk. I started my research on The Weston A. Price Foundation website, RealMilk.com, and The Healthy Home Economist blog. I quickly decided that I needed to find a source for clean, fresh milk straight from the tap…… or udder in this case. I was able to find a farm about an hour from where we lived at the time and we picked our milk up straight from the farm.
After drinking the milk for a while I started thinking about all of the wonderful dairy products I could make if I had a larger supply of milk. I could make butter, yogurt, kefir, and all kinds of cheeses just to name a few items. I decided that we needed a family milk cow. This may be where our desire for a complete homestead came into play.
Once we were back in Virginia we started homesteading and have slowly added to and grown our farm. A milk cow was on the list but just seemed like such a far away dream to me. Fortunately, my friend Tonya at Clover Hill Farm has a cow share program and we have been able to get milk from her for a while now. It has been great and we have made friends with her Jersey girls Mia and Gertie. We have even cow sat and milked Mia while Tonya was away. My desire for my own cow has grown exponentially.
Tonya knows how much I
want need my own cow. A few months ago she mentioned that if we got our own farm soon (with more room) she might want to send her Gertie to our place. Gertie needs to be hand milked due to her low hanging teats. She is not as compatible with the Clover Hill Farm milking system as Tonya would like her to be. Tonya also has Mia who will calve and be back in milk plus a heifer due in May that will be in milk. She won’t need three cows in milk or that many mouths to feed at one time. I told Tonya that my cousin (her property connects with my parent’s property) would probably let us fence off part of her field and use it.
After a little time went by, Tonya and her husband David decided that they would like to give us Gertie. When she asked me if we definitely wanted her I said YES (!!!!!!!!) immediately. I talked to my cousin to be sure she didn’t mind us using her field and she doesn’t mind at all. Tonya will keep Gertie at her place until Mia calves again in October. Once Mia is producing milk again Gertie will come home to live with us.
Gertie’s calf will come with her until she is weaned then Tonya will take the calf back. This is still all so surreal to me and I am so overwhelmed with gratefulness. The situation just works out so perfectly for all of us. Tonya knows Gertie will be loved and well taken care of here. I will be able to have Tonya close by to help and answer all of my questions.
We need to get to work building a fence, a small barn/shed, and a milking stanchion (look for posts on all of this soon). I’m going to go to Tonya’s between now and when Gertie comes home to brush up on my milking. I used to help my friend milk her goats when I was a teenager but that was a long time ago (longer than I want to admit).
I have been reading about family cow ownership over the last several years already. I am re-reading Keeping a Family Cow by Joann S. Grohman. It is the most recommended book on the topic of milk cows. I am also packing in as much internet research as possible. Of course, I am also asking Tonya a ton of questions.
Needless to say I am beside myself with glee. I’m already quite smitten with my Gertie girl and I like to think she is fond of me as well. I am eternally grateful to Tonya’s family for giving us this opportunity. God has been so good to my little family. We are so blessed.
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