So have you noticed something different around here?
No. We didn’t buy any new livestock this month…
No. There aren’t any new babies either (human ones, that is)…
And no. We’re not moving again. (Which was a genuine concern of mine last month. Our land contract is going into a mortgage this month and the whole job timeline still made things nip & tuck.)
So what’s changing? Well, I’m going to mix things up a bit and from now on my monthly personal homestead & family updates will be made behind the scenes so to speak.
Kind of like a “thank you” to those of you who loyally follow along and aren’t here because you clicked a link on Pinterest.
You got this update because you subscribe to our emails and clicked on the link to read what’s up.
Well here’s what’s been happening ’round these here parts…
•The big news is that we started a raw milk herdshare.
It’s not legal to sell raw milk in our state, but it is legal to allow folks to buy a share of our small dairy herd and then in exchange for a monthly boarding fee they get a gallon of their own milk each week.
The catch is, we’ve got to milk it for them. That’s not part of the legalities of what makes a milk share legal, in fact we were in one once where we’d have to go on our day and milk our own cow in the morning. But we’re choosing to do it this way for the sake of the cows so we can make sure they’re being properly cleaned & cared for and they get the routine that makes them happy.
This means milking 3 cows twice a day… By.Hand.
With two of us taking a side, it’s a chore that is adding hours to farm chores. Really, I don’t think anyone minds. We’re bombarded with volunteers and I’ve learned that if you want to keep them begging to help, tell them no the first few times. *wink, wink*
However, we will be transitioning from hand milking to a machine as soon as possible. I’m not thrilled about it. I feel for the poor gals. I know they won’t complain, but I once had milk mechanically stripped from my body, hated it, and decided that I’d go ahead and make the commitment to never be more than 3 hours away from my nursing babes.
And yet, I feel for Bill too. I don’t know what it is about cows, but he’s allergic to them. He gets a horrible case of dermatitis that starts as small dots on his hands and spreads up his wrists and then jumps up to his face and eyes. It’s painful and itchy and frankly no man should have to sleep with socks on his hands.
Since when we first bought Maybelle all those years ago and she didn’t have a calf on her and it didn’t happen, we thought that during her second laceration (with us) when she did have a calf working as our relief milker and he broke out in the rash that it was from calf saliva. He’s worn gloves during milking ever since or when it gets bad enough swaps out Jared’s farm chores and does them for him and Jared will do all the milking. Now that Rusty is weaned though and the other two gals don’t have calves and the dermatitis is still getting worse, maybe it isn’t the calf saliva, but is cow dander or from contact with the milk? (The latter makes no sense to me though- what is he squirting it in his eye? No. But look up there at who rests his head into the cow’s side…)
Whatever the reason, we know it clears up when the cows dry up so hopefully by using a machine it will go away.
I’ve been concocting salves for him in the kitchen and while it seems to bring some relief, it’s not reversing or curing the problem. My next step is to make jewelweed soap (once I learn how to make soap) hoping to stop the itching. I don’t see how the salve will work if it’s constantly being irritated by scratching.
I am enjoying all of the cream we’re able to be skimming while we wait and build our little family economy, however it will be good not to see all this milk needing to be managed every day. Can pigs have too much skimmed milk? Maybe that’s why they aren’t going into heat… fatties.
In the past few weeks, we’ve sold a handful of shares and there are plenty more available, so if you’re living in central Ohio and are interested, drop me a note and we’ll get you some more information!
•In other barnyard news, Mama Hen hatched out another brood for us this year… Proving that a good mama hen is worth keeping around even though she might not lay any more eggs.
This year it’s 6 chicks- 3 white and 3 black. We’ve lost one of each, both to accidents with the puppy. She’s a bumbly careless thing and turned around too quickly and stomped them. I will say this though, Mama Hen is the only chicken tough enough to go after that pooch! All the other gals run away (which makes the dog chase them more), but not Mama Hen. Not her she’ll try to peck Belle in the eye!
Phoebe loves the chickens and enjoys Milk-O’Clock because she gets to watch them. The chickens love Milk-O’Clock because they’ve learned that we’ll indulge our daughter and throw a bit of scratch on the ground so they’ll gather round her. `
•Miss Phoebe shocked us all by busting her first tooth a week ago! She’s always such a sweetheart and Chloe didn’t get her first till she was 10 months old or so that it was completely off my radar. I need to stop pretending I’m the mother of a newborn. She’s even leaning forward onto her hands and knees like she’s wanting to crawl. Girl wants to MOVE!
She has also learned to help herself to table scraps and since she’s NOT part of the Homestead Waste Management plan, she lost her position as the centerpiece of the table. I think it would be best for her to wait another couple months before she starts playing with big girl food. (I skip the whole mushy baby food stage. It’s a waste of my time and money. And I think they seem to have better appetites when the food is real and tastes good enough that I want to eat it.)
Let’s take this one for example. Her appetite is incredibly healthy and the closest thing to baby food she ever ate was mashed potatoes (or mashed sweet ones.) Here she thinks she’s being silly by stealing cucumbers right off the vine and munching on them, lil’ rascal. She’s also fond of those green unripened grapes. Reminds me a bit of her marauding brother.
Speaking of whom is pretty excited to have a big new sandbox dug out for all the kids under the deck and finally finished and filled.
Hope you’re enjoying all those lazy, hazy, days of summer!