We are milking two cows, twice per day. We milk by hand, in a corner of our humble pole barn. For the past couple of days, we’ve milked to the patter of rain on the tin roof, and that’s been real nice. Penny does most of the milking, though I pinch hit from time-to-time. From beginning to end, including a mid-milking break to feed the calves, it takes about 40 minutes. We both like it. It’s not a burden, though obviously not for the uncommitted.
Milk is the cornerstone of this little operation. It makes our butter, our kefir, our soft cheese. It makes our beef and this year, with a beautiful heifer on the ground, perhaps it will generate a little income. We feed the skimmed milk to our pigs and they are kind enough to convert it into chops and bacon. Good piggies. Thank you.
Of course, our milk comes from our cows, so perhaps it’s actually the cows that are the cornerstone of this little operation. They make the milk, they birth the beef and heifer calves, they graze the grass, they give us something meaningful to do for 40 minutes at the beginning and end of each day. No small point, that last one. It’s actually pretty damn important.
Of course, the cows couldn’t exist without the grass they feed on, so maybe the cornerstone of this little operation is grass. Funny to think about, isn’t it? Grass. The prey of lawnmowers the world over, which is crazy, because it’s actually one of the most abundant perennial food crops in the world. You think you can’t eat grass? That’s nuts. Of course you can eat grass. You just gotta run it through the digestive system of a ruminant first.
Except, well, the grass doesn’t grow without the sun, the rain, the soil. So I guess I was wrong before: These are the cornerstones of this little operation. They make the grass that feeds the cows that make the milk that makes our beef and bacon and butter and (!!!) ice cream. You think you can’t eat sun, soil, and rain?
Truth is, you do it every day.