Newsletter 2010-2 June 2010

I am writing this newsletter ahead of time as I am sure you are wondering what is going on.  Take heart.  I am always wondering what is going on.  Just when I think I have a pretty good idea, something else seems to be taking place.

Now that we finally have some heat, it is likely deliveries will start in couple of weeks.  I expect things will really get growing now.  The sodden areas of the fields are becoming accessible again.  The season seems at least three weeks behind.  As for natural indicators, I was checking out some places where the bullsnakes, for instance, come to lay their eggs.  Places I’ve been aware of for a dozen years or more.  Every year around June 8 or so, the two-metre long shed skins of the females, many of them, appear on a certain bluff near certain holes preparatory to the deposition of eggs in self-dug burrows.  On Sunday (the 20th) I checked this site out.  For the first time in a dozen years of monitoring, there were no shed-skins to be seen, and only one snake found on the bluff, and this was already nearly two weeks late.

I went to see a man about a cow.  An old Mennonite fellow.  Actually, I went to see him about a side-delivery rake, and mentioned I was looking for a cow.  Ideally a Jersey.  He said,

“I have a cow for sale.”

“What kind.”

“A Brown Swiss.  Not a Jersey.”

We went to look at the cow.  She was out back.  On the way to her paddock our path was crossed by a lactating bloodhound.  A good sign.  The old man appeared not to notice the bloodhound, but I still took it as a good sign.  Maybe it wasn’t even his bloodhound.

There was the cow, standing there in front of us now.  It was a Jersey, small as cows go, with dark face and legs.  Very beautiful, very  Jersey.  An unequivocal Jersey.  The a-priori Jersey, in fact. 

“It’s not a Jersey” the old man said.  “Brown Swiss.”

            “What’s her name,” I asked.


The cow had a ring through her nose, which I did not take as a good sign.  I had never seen a cow with a nose ring.  Only bulls.  She was not handled much, the old man said.  Skittish.  But still giving milk almost a year since giving birth and only five years old and only two calves so far, one of which was still in her.  All good signs.  I managed to get a look at her milk veins and feel her bag.  Big veins.  A good sign.  Soft bag –good.

We bought the cow for nine hundred dollars and renamed her “Brown Swiss.”  (Just kidding.)  Most Jerseys go for twelve to fifteen hundred.  She has settled in and we’ve milked her and she’s tried to kick me over the moon – the saved dollars.  Now her hind leg is tied back when milking and she no longer tries to kick.

We have made our first batch of yogurt from “Prickle’s” milk.  It is very good – rich with blobs of butterfat in it.  The life, for sure, when you’re eating that.  Granting, of course, that according to our fearless leaders in government you are ingesting a “hazardous substance.”   We plan on raising more milk cows.  We need lots more milk like that, all of us.  Prickle’s in calf to a Holstein, after which we will be breeding her to Jersey bulls. 

Her calf will probably be black.

Hopefully the season will be drawn-out this fall.  It will be a good one, regardless, once it starts.    

“A whole world exists out there about which the average farmer doesn’t have a clue.”

-Joel Salatin

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