19 December, 2012
This afternoon, my husband is at a hay auction, trying to see if he can find a better deal than the $8/ square bale we’re getting at the feed store up the road. Thanks to the drought this summer, that’s double what it was last year. Our little herd of three is costing us about $16 a day to feed (not including the scoop of grain Maybelle gets at milking time). Just too much for us for what amounts to being a beneficial hobby when we have 7 mouths to feed. So we’ve had to make the very difficult decision to put our Dexter heifer, Pepper, up for sale.
One of the challenges we face as a small homestead is a lack of fields to grow hay to put up for the cows as well as a limited capacity for hay storage for the six or more months of winter. That leaves us entirely dependent on the market for supplying feed and rather than compromise our principles and feed exclusively cheap grain, we’ve decided to let our dream of year round milk production go for now… maybe for good.
We’re still muddling through, but one acre of pasture, especially one transitioning from being lawn such as ours is, might not be enough to sustain more than a cow and her calf.
The plan is to sell Pepper and hopefully use the money to continue to feed and raise last year’s steer. He’s not ready to butcher yet, but if this doesn’t pan out, we’ll resort to that and simply be content with less meat. Frankly, it might come to that anyway. Sustaining Maybelle is a top priority since she supplies our family with her lovely, wonderfully delicious, and healthy raw milk.
We put an ad on Craigslist this morning, but I’m sharing details here in case anyone in the area is searching the internet and stumbles upon this post.
Pepper is a 5 month old Dexter heifer calf. She’s healthy, happy, and friendly. She was bred to be our family milk cow and her mother gives us on average 1 1/2 gallons of milk per day, but has peaked at 4 gallons in the past. Both her parents are registered, one with the ADCA, the other with PDCA and I have their pedigrees available. (We didn’t transfer the cows registration when we purchased her, but have the paperwork to do so if necessary.) Sorry, she’s sold!
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