We said goodbye to our Jersey house cow, Clarisse, in October. 😦 We’d had her for more than two years, and struggled our way up the super steep learning curve that is keeping your own house cow. It worked though! We had to take her back to get her pregnant; we built her a milking shed; she lost her baby so we went and got her two to foster; her and I learned together how this whole milking things works; we made cheese from her milk and seriously the best coffee you’ve ever tasted! We even had a small mastitis scare, and I had to give her a course of antibiotics, involving a week of injections in the butt! (her butt, just to be clear)
The problem we faced was that we had no time. I’m not exaggerating either – we have zero spare time nowadays. We’re trying to stand a business up and get more land to expand, and we’re about as time-strapped as you can be. I even gave up my veggie patch this year to free up some time.
We had been milking Clarisse weekly, both Saturday and Sunday, getting enough for the week. We were at the stage where I’d not had time to milk her for five or six weeks though. The calves were still taking milk, so she was full, but we weren’t using any of it. Keeping that size animal with her food demands on a small property like ours for no return just isn’t viable. More than that though, she was made to give milk and her milk is amazing – it’s just wasteful to not milk her.
As much as we loved Clarisse (not dad, they hated each other), selling her was even harder than you’d think. She wasn’t just a giant pet to us, even a pet with benefits, she represented a huge step in self-sufficiency. With her we could provide pretty much any dairy need for the family. It’s difficult to overstate just how important that was to us, and how hard it was giving it up. However, you need to be practical about this stuff. Not having her here means we can expand our pig paddocks a little and help bridge the gap until we get a bigger place. It also means that somebody will be enjoying all of the benefits she can give.
We sold her with Hannibal, the Jersey she was fostering. He could’ve been weened, but I thought it’d help them both to stay together. Lecter, the Friesian cross, moved up to our neighbour’s scrub lot to finish growing to a more edible size. He’d never been fully accepted by Clarisse. She fed him but never mothered him, so separating them wasn’t a huge deal. He’s now up with a small herd of cows on a giant block and looks to be loving life.
The people who bought her have 365 acres up at Mount Crawford, right next to the reservoir. The place has been in their family for almost a hundred years and it’s freaking gorgeous. They’re cow people, and have had Jerseys before. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better home for them to go to, and they seemed to settle in right away.
We’ll get another milking animal. I’m not sure if it’ll be another cow or a couple of goats, but I’m leaning towards another cow. That might not be for a few years, but it will definitely happen. In the meantime, we’ve started to grow our breeding flock of sheep. We picked up three gorgeous ewes and a sturdy ram lamb the day after dropping Clarisse and Hannibal to their new home.