Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Milking It

I'm often laughed at when people learn I milk a cow for the family. Why bother when milk is readily available at Woolies for $1 a litre for such little effort?  Believe me, there are crisp Winter mornings when I wonder myself.  Most people with cattle have a milker, their capacity to feed more than one calf at a time make them wonderful foster mothers when things go wrong and orphan calves appear.  I've only been milking for two years, and have just for this past six weeks been having to buy milk as I weaned a calf in anticipation of new baby arrivals.  The need to lug an extra esky to town just for milk enough for me to eagerly await my milkers' return to the fold.

Back in March I bought some 'sexed' Jersey semen.  Successful artificial insemination with such semen producing only heifer calves as desired in the dairy industry.  Bull calves being as useful within a dairy herd as the proverbial 'teats on a bull'.

I needled my three milkers at the time, Priscilla, Olivia and Olga to make them ovulate and thus be able to AI them.  Only Priscilla and Olivia were AI'd, Olga not appearing to cycle.  Some weeks later we preg-tested and were delighted to find that both Priscilla and Olivia were indeed pregnant.  While Olga was also in the yards I decided to check her out as well, determine where she was at with her cycle and if I could try again with the AI.  Lo and behold she was also pregnant!  Obviously the young show bull running in their paddock had hit his straps!  The next seven and a half months were spent wondering whether indeed my beloved Priscilla and Olivia would have Jersey heifer calves, or Brahman cross babies.

Well, wonder no more.

Meet Delta Dawn

and Bobby McGee,

born one day apart.  Two more beautiful baby Jersey heifers you'd never wish to meet.

Their proud mamas, Olivia

and Priscilla,

literally oozing milk.  I took 20 litres from them yesterday, and same again today.  Happy pigs and dogs.
And this morning Wallace returned from feeding up to inform me Olga had a baby boy.

Un-named as yet, perhaps Clayton Delaney.

And so I'm now on the look-out for a milking machine.  Quite seriously, if anybody knows where I'd find a second-hand one, I'd love to hear about it.

My carpal tunnels will thank you.


  1. Ah, I love it when you get all 'farmy' on me, Fi. How gorgeous are these creatures? I've always had a special love for cows - growing up in DAIRY country probably helped that along. I think it's commendable and amazing that you bring the milk. That's pureness right there. x

  2. Ah!!! I have always wanted a milker, but my husband always told me that milk is cheap and we are only 5 mins away from town and shops and it's just way too easy to buy! There is nothing in the world better than that thick cream taken off the top of the bucket of milk that has been left wholus bolus in the fridge, then spread on fresh bread with some honey or jam! Yum!

  3. holy cow, look at that Priscilla! you'd best find some other babies to put on her! I think I've said it before, milking is a skill that more than one have tried to teach me, without sucess. I am however, pretty good at bringing in the neighbours cow/s when required (and Dad's when we were kids...he must have been so pleased when we were deemed old enough to ride motorbike/horse/ute down to get the cow in!)and find them highly entertaining and full of (sometimes cranky) personality. Neighbour currently has four cows and nine calves in, which isn't a bad ratio really.

    as for the machine, am sure if you put word out around northern parts you might well pick one up, dairying being as it is! My BIL had one once, left over from their younger days on a dairy (FIL had no desire to EVER have a cow, after spending many morning and nights milking on the dairy!)

  4. Santa delivered a book about cheese and yoghurt making to our household - would you like me to send it down!
    My husbands question: Where did you get the sexed semen from?

    1. Cheese-making could very well be next on the agenda Ainsley. The semen is from a bull named Spiritual and was purchased from Agrigene in Victoria. They shipped up to Rocky DPI for me. On the lookout for some Brown Swiss next.

  5. Congrats from one Jersey farmer to another ;-) Look at the happy lines on those cows! Well done!
    Dinki from Hydeaway Jerseys

  6. How long does it take you to milk 20 litres!??
    My Dad has fond memories of milking for a big family.
    He said he would milk and sing for an hour each morning.
    Happy little boy! Your babies are all lovely, including the pups!

  7. My God! Beats me how "Priscilla" can walk! That is the biggest "udder" I have ever seen!
    I reckon "she" would supply a whole milk section in Woolies.
    You have my sympathy with the carpal tunnels. They sure are painful things. I had one hand fixed, but the fingers every now and then, especially when fiddling with keys and phones, the hand goes numb. Bloody annoying indeed.

  8. That is such a beautiful post Fiona....I am thinking of your hands, hope you find one of those milking machines! The babies are beautiful, plenty of "aawwws" from the boys here!

  9. I'm not surprised they produced 20 litres - look at the udders on them! I'm tempted to feel sorry for them then remember they are hand milked which much be so much nicer than a machine. But not for your hands and carpal tunnels. I remember that pain! Good luck with finding a machine.

  10. Those beautiful babies.
    Fresh milk beats bottled supermarket milk any day. Good on you for still milking your own house cows.
    Not sure where abouts in QLD you are but this is one for sale in your state on Gumtree-

  11. I am a dairy farmer's daughter. Don't know how old I was when I learned to milk but I do remember milking 15 cows before gobbling down my breakfast, grabbing my schoolbag and pedaling off to school. It comes as no surprise that I love our milkers and we wouldn't dream of life without our dairy herd. For the record Fiona, one of our Brown Swiss cows reared seven calves last season and none were hers!

    1. Well Chris, I feel like a bit of a sook complaining about milking three cows, compared to fifteen! How many kids would do that these days, mine barely manage cleaning their teeth! I'm very fond of the Brown Swiss/Jersey cross ... on the look out for some Brown Swiss sexed semen now.

  12. Yes I am sure carpel tunnel problems would be my lot these days, added to the arthritic wrists. Still, I have memories on a cold morning of leaning my face against the cow I was milking and watching steam rise from her warm body! I remember holding the odd tail brush in the crease of my knee to prevent being flicked unceremoniously across the face! It was what was on the tail that bothered me! Memories include the carrying of drums of separated milk to the pig-sty and of chasing after a bucket, stuck on a poddy's head because I wasn't careful enough with the handle. Oh the memories!

  13. A sensational post, Fiona. You never cease to amaze the city slicker in me! Ooh, I feel for you with your carpal tunnel problems. Both hands? Have you seen someone? J x



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