Milking Mable

Oh boy.  So we had a calf on Sunday.  Tuesday we milked for the first time.  So we have to fit something else into the routine.  We’re trying to milk Mable at 6, wrap up a few other chores, milk Olive (goat) at 7, then finish chores outside, feed the children and start school at 9.  Keep in mind I drive away at 6:15 each morning and return at 6:15 each evening so it’s just my wife out there.

Couple of things about Mable.  Maybe you didn’t know but cows make a lot more milk than goats.  Also, our goat has nice, large handles.  Even I can comfortably fit my hand around each to milk.  Mable has four thimbles.  To milk the cow I can only use my thumb and two fingers.  Like trying to empty a river with a teaspoon.


You can see all actors on stage in the picture above.  May being milked while tied to a post, Molly laying close by and Flora penned up and out of the way.

In spite of the thimbles, my lovely bride keeps at it.  We’re just going to have to get a milker.

For now we have only gotten colostrum from her which we give to the pigs.  Starting Friday we’ll try to filter it for our own use.  I can’t wait.

7 thoughts on “Milking Mable

  1. Ooo, ouch. I hate those tiny teats! My Jersey, Mattie, is the same way, and when she’s milking 8 gallons a day it ain’t fun for anyone to hand milk all of that!! I’ve gotten really spoiled with my milking machine… It was a big investment, but it’s worth every penny. 🙂

  2. I searched the dairy category before asking this question but didn’t see any posts about it. What’s the back story on your cows? How old were they when you got them? I assume they came from Steve. I spend my spare time on KFC reading about how others purchased their girls. I’d love to hear your family’s story and why you didn’t choose girls that were already milking. Thanks!

    • OK. That’s fair. Grass ran short in last summer’s annual drought so Steve needed to buy hay. He was a little freaked out by the size of the hay bill and decided he should liquidate some portion of the herd. He offered me some older cows in milk, sound on 3 quarters but the wife just wasn’t ready to step up to bat with a cow yet. He had a BEAUTIFUL heifer calf (Flora) and a slightly older heifer calf (Mable). I bought those two in July, giving him extra to keep them till the summer was out. Well, November rolled around and I still wasn’t ready…but Steve was. On November 15th my calves came home. December 15th I was already tired of Mable when she came into season so Steve drove down on a lark and bred her to a straw from Top Brass. She settled. Now we have Molly.

      Hoo boy. The good news was I had bought 100 bales of alfalfa for $3.50 earlier in the summer and dad had plenty of grass hay. Also, the barn lot hadn’t been mowed or grazed in several months and the fescue was ready to go. I wintered the cows at the barn (not at my house), in the barn lot and, later, around the pond. In the spring the cows came home but I still hadn’t worked things out with my cousin to invite his cows to graze elsewhere. That took till this month.

      See? I wasn’t ready. But I recognized that Flora was a blue-ribbon quality calf and Mable was a pretty good calf too. In fact, Mable has been a better mother than I would have imagined.

      Steve raises good Jerseys, though not papered. They certainly could be but they aren’t. I trusted his quality. I appreciated his predicament and was fine with the price. It was just the timing that was wrong. Starting with calves gave us time to learn before diving into the deep end.

      That should probably go into a post.

    • Though it’s not for everybody, it was a big help starting with goats. Just going through the motions of getting (if you are sharing with the kids) a quart or two of milk every morning for a couple of years is enough to show you what you need to know, without the stress of an animal that can step on you and kill you. Cows are easy to fence, goats can be tricky. And goats don’t eat grass.

      • The fencing issue with goats makes me a little timid to try them first. I heard Joel Salatin say one time that he never keeps an animal that is smarter than him…hence no goats. Time will tell how it all ends up…thanks for the info as always

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