The Homestead Milk Cow
Updated: Jun 30, 2022
A cow...the animal we said we would probably never have.
We had a lot of reasons. They are big. They eat a lot. They drink a lot. They poop a lot. We don't have space. We don't have time. We had a million reasons and yet, like most homesteaders, we wondered if there would be a way to make it work...because, raw milk! Thanks to farming friends with an organic dairy operation, we eventually settled on buying our raw milk once a week and felt good about the decision to support another farmer and feed our family the nutrition powerhouse that is raw milk.
Then our friend texted Tim asking if we wanted a milk cow. They had a cow due to freshen around the same time I was due with Aaron, but they were struggling to keep up with milking her. My first response was a solid NO! My second thought was shoot, this opportunity isn't going to come along again any time soon is it? A cow from a homesteading family with a similar set of life choices, including being around small children. Used to hand milking. Newly freshened. Less than a couple hour drive to pick her up.
Shoot! Shoot! Shoot! A new baby and a cow?! It took less than one night for my highly logical brain to overlook the obvious objections and realize that it was actually a dream situation. So we agreed to take her after she calved (you know, and I had a baby!). I am already glad we did. With Tim working from home and a newborn, it was actually getting harder rather than easier to make our weekly milk runs (it was a couple hours round trip) and the gas was costing us a lot more than it was a year ago. And just like that we are flowing in milk and cream and all sorts of deliciousness. The best part of this for us, is that raising a variety of animals who are happy to eat the skimmed milk, whey, buttermilk, and any other generally unused milk we aren't drowning in milk as much as I thought we would be. Even our livestock guardian dog, Mooney, enjoys a bucket once every day and we have as much milk, cream, yogurt, and butter as we could possibly need.
Someday I will take on more advanced cheese making, but in the meantime I feel great about taking one more towards food independence and feeding all of the critters on our homestead (two and four legs) with such a high quality food!
Oh, and her name is Io (eye-oh). We apparently love naming things with obscure Greek!