It has long been said that a Milk cow is certainly the hub of the farm or homestead.
We had been homesteading as we called it for a couple of years. We were cooking and heating with wood only.
I had cut a number of big white pines (some 30″ + diam) and was able to have the logs milled by a friend who had a Woodmizer portable sawmill. I then began to build a mini-barn pole building. We had chickens, a pig,
and a few goats, Nubian and another type–.
Milking wasn’t bad, but as a family of four we wondered about other options. Then we heard of a nice Jersey
cow not far from us. We ended our time with goats and I built the next part of our
little barn. It was setup with a center door into a small area between chickens to the left
and an area for the cow on the right. So we went off and purchased Blossom.
Blossom was about 850 pounds and it turned out she was already bred. When she calved it was time to learn for sure what milking was about. Three Gallons a Day!
Three jars rotating in fridge (we used the large glass pickle jars)- freshest had a place and the other two were in various stages of use – skimming the butterfat at top , making butter, saving buttermilk, The second was usually the milk for drinking. The oldest jar just went out to the chickens, pig, dog, cats.. We never saw the dog’s coat and the cat’s looking so good. We hadn’t yet seen the best eggs, better looking hens. The pig was always fine with the addition of milk
Our pancakes were beyond good and butter was real again.
The other by-product especially for the homesteader was the manure pack. We always made sure the straw bed for Blossom was clean. That meant whenever it was soiled we just threw on more straw. This pack was fresh on top and breaking down underneath. It also was a source of a bit of warmth due to the activity of breaking down. You would notice this when temps got below 0. Quite the chore though when it came time to take the pack out to finish composting. But that meant so much to the soil we had been developing in the garden.
The first calf was a Holstein , offspring of a BIG, BIG bull who was twice the size of Blossom.
That was amazing in itself. The photo above is just after a tug of war- you CAN NOT wait before trying to get control of a animal–Start on day 2. This was after a couple of months-sometimes the way we have to learn.
After that we had her bred to a Hereford. We got a nice bull calf and before long he was a young steer. We raised him to just beyond veal to baby beef. That was the best beef we ever had. And we had a part in it from the start.
That to me was the greatest success in animal husbandry ever.