Cows are smarter than you think. Growing up, I had horses and Dad had his Highland Cows. Now I'm an animal lover, so of course I liked his cows--even though they aren't the kind you snuggle up to--like mine are now, and I definitely didn't think they were as smart or wonderful as my horses. Now I have cows and no horses.
All of our cows know their names, and basic commands. They love a routine and show up at the gate at precisely the time they should to be milked. I guess cows can tell time too. Gale, can open the gate and let herself back in after milking. They even know the order they are to be milked in, and will hang back until their time. Sometimes they get a little greedy and some will relentlessly try to usurp anothers spot. They seem to have an impeccable knack for detecting when the vet is coming for their annual testing, and disappear into the tall grass at the farthest corners of the pastures.
Here is the cast of characters providing your milk and dairy products right now.
Gale- A 5 year old Jersey, very petite in height and build, and a really light blond. She used to have horns but we have been humanely dehorning her with the callicrate bander. She lost one horn and we are waiting on the other, it has almost dropped off. I guess she is a unicorn right now. She is the lead cow and wears a cowbell on her collar. Her udder structurally, is the nicest of all the cows I own. She gives very rich milk, about 4 gallons a day right now, peaks at 7 gallons. ( She's my favorite, don't tell the others )
Berretta- She is also 5 years old. She is one of my better behaved cows and very pretty with dark overtones and a solid black face. A purebred Jersey cow. She can get spooked, and we joke she's always looking around the corner fearing a puma will pounce on her back. Berretta just calved a month ago and is giving me 4 gallons a day plus feeding her calf Brevi. The calf is probably taking 2 gallons a day now. Berrettas milk is high in solids, yields a good cheese.
Teeny- 4 year old Jersey. Markings similar to Berretta only Teeny is smaller and her overtones and face are a chocolate brown color. Pretty. She can be a stinker, but is ALWAYS first to get to the barn. In a hurry, too.. Pretty unflappable but not above throwing some attitude around if she thinks it will shake you. A perfect angel to milk now.Her milk is delicious! She has the highest butter fat too. Currently I'm getting 5 gallons a day from her plus she is stuffing that little calf of hers with all the milk he desires, twice daily. She is definitely giving upwards of 6 gallons a day. Her milk is my favorite for drinking.
Happy- 6 year old purebred Jersey. She is my biggest cow, but is like a ballerina--tall and lanky. She has a delicate refined face. She is very sweet and seems to take it all in stride. She is first to be milked and heads right up the road and plants herself outside the milk parlor door, and CANNOT be moved until you let her in and milk her. I'm trying to dry her off, she is due to calve August 15, so really should have been dried off 4 days ago. She is an incredibly persistant milker, and I have no idea what amount she will freshen with, she has given 4 gallons a day since I got her in January. She has nice, rich milk. Makes nice fresh cheese.
That's the line up right now.
All the human kids are flourishing as well. I swear even they grow leaps and bounds in the warm sunshine. Zoie is, as always, completely in love with the barn cats. You can usually find her stretched out snuggling with one of the various felines or up a tree. After catching some heat for not helping out around the house, she made great strides this week and redeemed herself. Jude, is EXTREMELY helpful and doting with his little sisiters, he gets upset when Zoie badgers them, no doubt for that very reason. He has been logging many hours out on the sand pile these days. He also is missing his 2 front teeth, and making a killing off the tooth fairy.
Veda, at 5 years old is really coming into her own now, she has a dedication to fashion and all things "pretty". A darn good dancer too. She picks me butter cups everyday to see if I like butter. I do. Ayla, is obsessed with milking the moo cows with me, and is quite the comedian. She loves to sing along with the radio, and you wouldn't believe the renditions she performs. Maybe you would if you've spent much time around the 3 year old crowd. Let's just say they tend to have a fascination with all things " potty" and she likes to mock horror and disqust at all things coming out of the south end of a northbound cow. Little Miss Ida May, or " Popcorn" as Ayla affectionately calls her, is now 10 months old, taking first steps, and completely cleaning off my bedside stand multiple times daily. She is into everything, and is adorable! Bright blue eyes, and although she was born with very dark hair like Dante, it is really lightening up and actually looks reddish with blond highlights. She is feisty though, good for her.
I think I have found a part time helper, we'll see how it goes, the details haven't been worked out yet, but it seems all I do is wash the dairy dishes. I need more time to actually make cheese and other things. Yesterday Zoie and Jude returned the cows to the field all by themselves and then returned themselves to the house unscathed. I am proud and it was a major help for me. Hopefully we can do more of that if all goes well.