This is a warning to others who will come after me. . . .
Everything that is beautiful is NOT for your farm.
What is a farm without a lovely Jersey cow?
Of all the creatures one might bring to mind
when they think of a farm, the Jersey
is a timeless and classic figure. She is
simply beautiful and was once a staple on small farms.
She still can be, but you MUST know
if you and your farm can sustain such a
dairy animal before jumping in feet first.
In a state like West Virginia, you're sadly
very limited with what you can do with your
milk. Herdshares are illegal, though it beats me
how the FDA and our government thinks to tell us
that we cannot share a cow and her milk, but with some Jerseys
giving 6-8 gallons a day, this is something to consider.
With the costs of alfalfa in this area, our small 23
acres being composed of mostly hillside and trees,
our limited time budget with 3 boys and
a large dairy goat herd. . .and limited
budget to afford the amount of added grain to our
already huge grain budget. . .
I could see no way around acknowledging
that I'd jumped in too soon without
enough consideration to the "sensible."
So here I am. . .
With a beautiful Jersey cow, Stella, we have raised
for 2 years. A cow I truly love but
have come to realize needs more
land, a deeper pocketbook and
more time for milking than I'm apt to have in the coming
I decided that we would have to sell her.
I had hopes for just the right home.
A home where I could see how she
is doing and know that if they could not
keep her one day, we'd have an option to
purchase her back. A home that
I knew understood dairy cows, had the ability
to milk her routinely and wasn't buying her on a whim.
I was lucky enough to find such a home and an offer
to trade my Beautiful Stella for a breeding for my Dexter heifer to
a Reg. Dexter bull and a Miniature heifer,
another Dexter, and her name is Angeline.
What is the difference in the Jersey and Dexter and how
does it impact you if you're considering a dairy animal?
As my blog in the Homesteading for Dingbats Series
Part 1 explained, Dexters can be largely
grass based in milk, forage well on things many
other breeds will not eat, give 1-2 gallons a day,
can be left to raise her calf without producing more milk
than the calf can consume and are a dual purpose
beef/dairy breed. They have a lower impact on the land
and you can support 2-3 per well cared for acre if you
use rotations grazing during growing season, it is said.
This works for us.
However, there is still a place for the higher production animals,
like Stella. Jerseys are eye candy, docile and give, if they are the only
dairy animal for a family, enough for a medium-large sized family of 5-8.
If you make cheese, yogurt and butter (which Jersey butter is unarguable the best),
a Jersey can and DOES satisfy so many areas of your family's dietary needs.
But you must realize what you're committing yourself to.
I did not, and I admit this.
I have worried for the last year about having
Stella in milk, finding the time to milk her with the dairy goats. . . .
The costs of grain and finding alfalfa hay. . .
Milk fever. . .
training her to milk without a stand or
milking machine. . .
Handling that much milk. . .
I know she has found a farming placement that
will be able to give her the type of farm she really needs,
and that is priceless to me!
But I will miss my first cow. . .
who thinks she is a dog. . .
a great deal. . .
I always learn things the hard way.