Friday, 6 November 2009

Our House Cow Journey Part 2

Posted by Bel
From Spiral Garden

Continued from Our House Cow Journey Part One

We've learned so much in the almost two months we've had a house cow! Some of the main lessons are:

* it's not easy
* it's not cheap
* nothing ever stays the same

If I knew what a challenge a house cow would be, would I do it again? YES! The milk is fantastic, the manure is abundant, and the cows are really a joy to work with, especially Honey the calf.

We're still milking out once a day, but we take our share first in the afternoon as we were barely getting 1.5L for awhile. Honey is eating a variety of other foods (mainly grass and lucerne hay tops) and growing amazingly fast and well, so we thought it was time to take the first step to weaning. Hopefully each further step toward weaning will go as smoothly.

We are using diluted Neem oil for buffalo fly at the moment, which appeared once the rain came back. I'm playing with dilutions so I don't have to re-apply all the time, but it certainly seems to make a difference. I check both cows daily for ticks, and remove them manually. Luckily, both animals are quite used to me touching them now.

We're spending less on feed now that there's more pasture for the cows - for awhile there their food budget rivaled ours! Lucy is happy to eat more homegrown foods, especially pigeon pea, and she is hand-fed snacks of these most days. Sometimes I'll lead her to a lush part of another paddock and stand whilst she munches away, or tie her to a post whilst I do something else.

From the milk I've made yoghurt, panir, quark, sour cream (didn't work out), cottage cheese and cream cheese so far. Mostly, though we only milk out what we can use fresh and in cooking. The Home Creamery has been an invaluable resource (and inspiration) in creating products from excess milk.

There are more blog posts and photos of our house cow journey on Home Grown.