I wrote this post several years ago before we got our milk cow. Life has changed a lot since then but the prep list still holds true for preparing for a family milk cow. Since then, we’ve moved over 700 miles away and gotten goats.
We no longer have Gertie as we weren’t able to bring her with us when we moved. We greatly miss having a milk cow and we plan to add an A2/A2 Jersey back to our homestead in the (hopefully very near) future.
How to Prepare For a Family Milk Cow
(on a tight budget)
When I say it like that it sounds like I know what I’m doing. Ok, all joking aside. All of this is fairly new to me but I have good “cow” friends and have done a lot of research. Gertie will probably be coming home in the next few weeks.
This is sort of a run down of our to-do list before Gertie arrives on the homestead. We will be working hard together to get it all done. We will also be working with a tight budget so we have to get creative with our planning.
As of right now, the field is still not fenced in. Farmer Derek is quick (and really good at) building fences but we have yet to get started. We need to measure, collect our materials, and get to work! We will use high tensile electric fence and hook it up to the pony field fencing. The fencing supplies shouldn’t be very expensive and won’t put too big of a dent in the budget.
Build a barn
No biggie, we just have to construct a barn over a couple of weekends (oh, along with building fence and Farmer Derek working his paying 40 hour a week job). This also entails sawing out the lumber with Farmer Derek’s handy dandy Alaskan Chainsaw Mill (like this one) to build the barn with. By cutting our own lumber, we will save a lot of money. We will still need to purchase the hardware but the lumber is by far the most expensive element of the project.
We need to sit down and draw out a plan for it first. We have an idea in our heads and have discussed it in great detail but it is always a good idea to have a sketch with such a big project. It won’t be a very large barn, some might even refer to it as more of a shed than a barn but it’ll be perfect for Gertie.
Build a milking stanchion
We have settled on building a raised stanchion that is about 12″-18″ off the ground. Gertie has a low hanging udder so it will be a good idea to elevate her for milking. It’ll make the whole process easier on everyone. We were given some re-claimed decking boards by a friend who re-built his deck. This lumber should work perfectly for part of the stanchion. We are hoping to not have to purchase much to finish it up.
Purchase hay, feed, and minerals
I have been reading about what and how to feed a family milk cow. I would like to be able to grass feed only and add minerals but may need to supplement with some non-gmo, soy-free dairy feed. I need to get all of this stocked up and ready to go for Gertie when she gets here. We will be buying all of this from the local feed mill that we already work with. We are also looking into getting Chaffehaye (alfalfa forage in a bag). It sounds really promising.
How can one milk a cow with no milking supplies? I’d like to have a small bucket to milk into and a large pail to transfer the milk to while milking. I also need supplies to filter the milk into the jars. I did just purchase cheese and yogurt making supplies so I’m ready for the milk, just not the cow. That’s putting the cart before the horse or maybe just the milk before the cow. Either way, I need more stuff!
Learn to handle raw milk
While we have enjoyed drinking raw milk for a while now, we need to make sure that we have a good process for handling it from barn to fridge. This will ensure that we have the cleanest and healthiest milk possible for our family.
This is just a basic rundown of what we need and what we have to do. Needless to say, we will be very busy around the homestead for the next several weeks (as if we aren’t busy already). We are beyond excited and looking forward to getting Gertie home.
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Marie Beasley Kelly says
You go girl! It sounds exhausting though!
WOW you have your work cut out for you. But as organized as you are things should go smoothly.
Good advice! Pretty much what we did when we were getting ready for our cow a few years ago. I remember my hands being very tired when I first started milking but I got used to it and the buckets of fresh milk are a lovely reward for all of the work! I’m excited for you. 🙂
Oh how I envy you! But not all the work you have waiting for the next weeks! I wan’t a cow very badly, but we don’t drink enough milk to justify it. Or have enough land. Maybe someday we’ll work out a cow sharing plan with some neighbors, (maybe someday that will be legal here. . . ) but for now, I just love looking at milk cows online. My favorite are the “lowline” (actually true) Jerseys. Something in their eyes just gets me. Sentimental silliniess, I know! Good luck with your newest addition!
Thank you so much! We do have our work cut out but it’ll be so worth it. We are very excited! 🙂
David E. says
Since you are cutting boards from freshly downed trees, do you have to somehow dry them out first, or is there someway to account for that so the boards do not split or shift later?
We do not have a way to dry them. We do expect to end up with gaps, we will use furring strips on the gaps as needed. They boards will be nailed to the framing so they will not be able to warp. Ideally, drying them out first would be best but we don’t have that option so we will just work around it as needed. 🙂
Love this! Looks like we will be moving to a small homestead within the next two months and this is top of the list!
So great to have it all mapped out so I don’t have to make my own checklist ❤️
That’s so exciting! 🙂