Yeehaw Farm

One bucking thing after another.

The nitty gritty dirt

If you have livestock, evenually you have dead stock.

Posted by Judi F Radel on October 13, 2011 at 8:55 PM

I usually try to keep my blog posts upbeat and positive but this one? I will be upfront about it; it's a bummer post.

So, everyone knows the story that Cranky always said that if we had to milk cows to keep farming, well, we weren't going to farm.  I just love reminding him of that now false statement...every chance that I can. That's why I bring it up so often.

Who is Cranky, you ask? Cranky is my husband, my partner in this marriage, the man that I started dating I was 16 years old and married way too young, the father of my four punks or what's the new term, their "baby daddy"? The man that still makes me swoon and weak in the knees like he did when I was 16.  The man who makes me so mad; furious is more like it with his stupid ideas, religious and political views. Oh, don't get me started on his political opinions.  I only go to the voting polls to cancel out his vote. Someone has to do's one of my many jobs. He is the man who has been opposed to many of my well thought out and ingenious ideas. (Okay, granted, over the years, a few, err...I mean a lot of my ideas have been pretty lame.)  So, Cranky is my soul mate. Whoa. That's a pretty strong word. How about "my life mate"? So, contrary to his nickname, he is pretty great guy, except that he can get really cranky.  Thus the name. Especially when he needs a chew. Yes...he has that disgusting habit too.  Now that we have established who Cranky is and his preferred tobacco habits, I will go on with this blog post.

So, back to this milking cows thing. Cranky NEVER wanted to milk cows or goats or sheep and especially not water buffalo. I'm not milking water buffalo...yet. But we do have milk cows, dairy goats and milking sheep on the farm now which is pretty funny considering how much he NEVER wanted to milk any animal.

But I had this idea to start our Whole Diet CSA, which would involve providing our members with? got it, milk.  Our one family milk cow wasn't going to cut it to provide 5 families with enough milk so I talked him into getting two more dairy cows. That was all well and good until we had to dry one up to calve and then, the other had to be dried up. For my non farming readers, cows should be "dried up" or not milked to give them a rest before they calf again.  The dried up time period is usually 60 days.  That's a long time to rely on one cow again to feed all those mouths but not enough time for the cow, if you ask me. I know as I nursed my babes to my breasts and if I only had 60 days in between those little milk sucking monsters, I would have gone nuts. Off track again. Back to the milk cow story. So, I talked him into purchasing yet another cow. Problem was, until I finally got him talked into it and we scraped up the money for another cow, (Geez...milk cows are expensive!)  we had a hard time locating a cow within our price range. When we went milk cow shopping (that's a term that not many people will ever get a chance to use!), the price of milk was up which meant that the dairy farmers that we knew weren't dumping any of their cows because they needed all the milk that they could get in their milk tank.  We finally found one dairy farmer who felt sorry for us and said, "yes, I will sell you one of my cows."  When we went to his farm to pick up a cow, he gave us the choice of one of four cows. A two year old Jersey who wasn't milking that great and was a little skittish...ah, I don't think so. We need milk. That was the point of the new cow. Duh. Two of the other allotted Jerseys were three teaters but were bred back (Non farmer readers; it means they were preggers again), which also meant that they were more expensive. And the last cow...she had hip problems. Her hip made a clicking noise but she was milking good and all of her teats were in working order. And she was cheap. That also translates into, "We'll take her, let's get her loaded on the trailer before my wife talks me into yet another dairy cow." 

So, we bought Lala and brought her home to Yeehaw.  She worked out well for about...oh, I don't know...two weeks?  Then the hip problem really became a major issue.  We thought if she was out on pasture, in the sunshine and not on concrete barn floors all the time, her hip would get better.  That seems logical, right?  As many of you know, shoot, the sun didn't show it's face for weeks on end around these parts in Pennsylvania. And I guess making her walk a 1/4 mile two times a day just didn't cut it for that already sore hip.

We penned Lala up in the barn hoping to bring her back to health. Evidently, the taste of green grass was too much for her and sore hip or not, she busted out of barn and made her way back to the pastures.   New plan; instead of making her walk back and forth to the barn, I handmilked her in the pasture.  The hip issue must have caused more problems than we thought because she developed mastitus (non farming readers, you must learn more about farming from someone other than me but I will tell you what mastitus is; an infection in the teats) and became weaker and weaker.  It was getting that we would go down to the field, with a couple extra sets of muscles from our workforce, (Um, yeah, that would be our punk kids.) and physically pull, pry, shove and lift her up as she couldn't even get up anymore. 

Farming realization #1. Lala's quality of life really sucked.

Farming realization #2. Lala was never going to get better.

Farming realization #3. As the new caretakers of Lala, (the registration papers prove it), it was our humane and ethical responsibility to make sure she wasn't miserable anymore.

This is the part that is a bummer.  So, Lala is no longer with us...only in spirit. Even though, she was only with our family and farm for a few, short months, we became attached to her in that short amount of time. She provided our family and other families with nutrition, freely giving of her milk to share with others.  She was a good ol' cow. 

There is a saying that most farmers I know use. "You have livestock? You have dead stock."  I hate that saying. I also hate all the other euphamisms to explain our time here on this Earth and the correlation between all living things and life.

My mother has always shared, "Oh, tomorrow's a better day." That one is okay but I don't know that it really explains how I feel about losing Lala.

My farming language...plain and simple. It just sucks.

Rest in peace, Lala or in green pastures.


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1 Comment

Reply Amanda
12:21 AM on October 15, 2011 
Oh poor baby! Sorry Judi. I know how much you love your animals. One of our first conversations ever was about how much you care about your family (animals included). You're in my thoughts lady!