Monday, November 09, 2009

Dreaming of Milk

It is a rare day when one of the big kids doesn't mention 'when we used to have fresh milk/ butter/ cream/ yogurt/ ice cream'. It's one of those things that pulls the heartstrings, and makes us even more devoted to the dream we have been nurturing ever since we gave that dream up, by choice, last winter.

Nimue & Rori mowing the lawn.

When we moved here 4 years ago, one of the first things we did was build fence. My father and I went to an auction and bought a Jersey heifer, and we named her Nimue. She was not to calve until spring, so we had time to 'get ready'- it is hilarious how our definition if 'ready' has changed. Milking a cow is a lot like having a new baby. No one can prepare you for it, but you feel a need to try and prepare. After the baby comes, you realize most everything you did to prepare was a waste of time and you let real experience teach you what you need and what you need to do. To make a very long story short, read this. But we didn't keep Rori, we sold Nimue and Rori. We kept the calves, and Phoenix is not long for this world- he has a date with our deep freezer. Jocelyn is now ready to be bred, meaning we are about 10 months from our milk.

Jocelyn is born

Jocelyn at about 6 months old.

I took quite a few pictures of Jocelyn yesterday. She is 15 months old, just when we would like to see her bred. Ideally, a heifer gives birth when she turns two years old. She is such a pet, like her mother. Unlike the other cows we have had she really, really likes Karl.

Milking is intertwined with our hearts, like our chickens and pigs and garden and home. Being without it has been necessary and humbling. We needed this break so, so badly. Sometimes I am certain I can wait no longer and I must find a cow to milk. Other times I feel so afraid of how quickly we will be doing it again. Our journey has been largely positive but the negative experiences stick with me. What if? We can only do our best. Who would have thought this would be such an emotional thing, just milking a cow.
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