Gerty’s back. She’s been gone since the week of Thanksgiving, so it was a sweet reunion.
She was at the farm of some very generous friends who let her be courted by their bull — a very well-bred, pricey bull, at that!
They’re the folks that took Gerty a little over a year ago to let their bull (a different one at that time) breed her. From that union came Sassafras. And dear Sassy was given to our friends as payment for not only the bull-date (we really were only going for the milk anyways), but also for so many other ways they’ve helped us learn how to farm (and mistakes they’ve saved us from).
That said, Gerty is bellowing in the pasture now. I think she misses Sassy. Which brings me to my next point: milking.
Formerly, I had been milking Gerty in the morning only — Sassy would suckle throughout the day, and we’d separate them at night.
Now, I have to pick up Sassy’s slack.
As I understand traditional milking, it is done in 12-hour increments. So twice a day. And the reason, I suspect, milking is traditionally associated with the early morning is that the farmer wanted to be done with the evening milking before dinner… or before he went out to hit the local hot-spots for the rural night-life. So: 4:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
No way. That’s not happening.
Now, I’ve recently learned from some friends who have several milk cows that a cow can be milked only once per day, and that will not harm her. Milk production will be less, but she’ll be fine. Our friends even said the cow doesn’t have to be milked at PRECISELY the same time every day. Now, obviously all these changes will result in lost production. But if a cow is giving 2 gallons a day at peak production, and with lost production, there’s only 3/4ths of a gallon… well, that’s not too terrible for a small family!
But I’m considering a twice-a-day milking schedule, at least for a while. And I’m thinking about doing it at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
PROS: More milk. The classic milking experience. Umm…. that might be all. I guess I’ve heard that a cow can get mastitis from having milk back up too much (as in, a once-a-day milking schedule), but I’ve also heard other things that contract that.
CONS: 5:30 a.m.
On a final note, our milking friends told us that once their cows wean the calves, cream production skyrockets. We were very happy to hear that… very happy indeed. More butter… sour cream… ice cream…