Hind Sight, Hind Milk – Oh Janey
s it any wonder your name rhymes with bane? Keeping Jane going is wicked hard. She is not the resilient cow I had hoped she would be. She has had a winter filled with little mishaps that probably wouldn’t have amounted to anything if she was a whole milk-raised tank like her mom. But she is a formula baby, and thus not quite the picture of resilience that her mom, Della was. Hind sight is so clear Shoulda, woulda, coulda. I shoulda bought a milk cow to replace Della and raise Jane on whole milk…and the sad thing was I found just such a cow for a friend of mine, I woulda bought her, and coulda bought her, but I didn’t want to spend the money. Stooopid! After finding the cow and vetting her for a friend, and now seeing said cow still living down the road, I wish I would have bought her. The vision is so clear now, but then I thought it might be easier to use milk replacer instead of buying a used cow. In retrospect, I see how much the milk replacer has changed in the last two decades, since I had last used it, and the results are not the same. I shoulda seen that one coming, but I didn’t, so here we are now.
You never get the perfect husband, wife, kid, dog, or cow. Jane has many things going for her. Great feet, perfect disposition, rebred, and her hair is in good shape, but she has a weak constitution. It only takes one little thing to throw her for a loop, so since mid-December resiliency in Jane has been elusive. First, she slipped in the mud on the way to water, I saw mud on her hocks and wondered (she had to have sat down to get mud on her hocks) about that…it took me two days to figure out she wasn’t going to water, for fear of falling again. So Ruthless and I started packing water to her in the barn. So much for spring-fed fresh water for the house cow, now it has to be delivered? My brother once told me that cows drink more when you carry a bucket to them, probably not true but it sure seems like it!
Next on the agenda was some kind of tooth problem with one of Jane’s deciduous teeth. She was munching away on her chopped root ration one night, and I heard a big “craaaack” which sounded different than her crunching of the roots. Cows don’t reach full dentition until age 4 – 5, and I have found lots of deciduous teeth around, actually we have quite a collection on the wood stove (which really makes people think you’re a redneck when they spy those.) Needless to say, Jane had a toothache or sore gums or something – not good when your main job is chewing food to make into milk! In the meantime getting her to take in enough food and chew her cud was a trial. She lost weight. Cud chewing was painful to watch. And then we started getting an ice storm here and there. Jane has fallen twice on the ice, once by herself, and the other because of where I chose to lead her. Gahhh. Three falls in the space of about five weeks – does anyone know if there is a medic alert halter for cows? “Moo, I fallen and my bag is killing me!” Oh wait, Jane doesn’t wear her halter except at milking… .
Then, since I felt so sorry for Jane and myself, I had the great idea to go to once a day milking, Blake was getting to be a major pain in the rear and it seemed easier at the time. I did have enough sense to be monitoring for any signs of possible mastitis, since not all cows with a mastitis history do well with once a day milking. One day the CMT test showed a slight change in one quarter, the CMT is an indicator of somatic cell counts, so that was enough to tell me to get off my duff and go back to twice-a-day milking. The milk was fine, and nothing has come of that, and I’m still not sure if it was the trauma from falling or the once-a-day milking schedule that caused the elevated white blood cell count. Note to self, Jane is probably not a candidate for OAD milking.
Which brings me to the hind milk part of the post. Blake is fully weaned, and now I am getting all the milk and all the cream. Jane was a good mama and held up the best (hind milk) for her baby. But even she was getting perturbed with Blake, she was getting kicky and nervous at milking time and that’s not good either. So now my big conundrum is what to do with all that cream. Huge dilemma, I tell you.
Butter is the most popular around here, it freezes well and is one of those things that you use daily and is expensive to buy. So I’ve been making butter. I dusted off the two gallon Dazey and put the one gallon Dazey away. The extra milk is going to the hens in the form of clabber and sometimes cheese. The whey is going in the garden. So we are finding a use for the extra milk, Blake is doing great as a weanling, and Jane is on the mend with twice a day milking.
What would I do different next time with an orphan calf?
♥ Find a suitable replacement cow and milk her. Tractable nurse cows are few and far between, and require a lot of management. Milking and bottle feeding would be my first choice.
♥ Barring finding the right cow, I would possibly consider a higher quality milk replacer like this product.
Jane will be my challenge, I guess, until she isn’t a challenge anymore. She may go along for many years always on the edge, or she may not. She is the best cow anyone could ask for as far as handling and milking. My hopes are that she lives a long and productive life.