Homestead Animals

11 articles in category Homestead Animals / Subscribe

butter-three

Until the goats freshened and we began milking again this past summer, I had a niggling feeling about the children’s nutrition. Sure, they were getting all of the usual traditional foods but the goats had been dry for several months and I was just starting to wonder. It probably had something to do with the little comments here and there about how good a glass of milk sounded or how much they liked yogurt.

And now, this.

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Twice a day I can’t quite believe my eyes when I strain the milk… and skim the cream. I really, firmly believe that raw dairy products provide nourishment in ways that most other foods simply cannot. When you have milk, you have a meal, I sometimes say as I put whatever vegetables, beans, eggs, or meat we might have onto the table. And everyone gets a huge glass of milk.

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And now, with that cream, has come raw butter and raw sour cream (and maybe raw cream cheese soon). While some of us can eat store-bought grass-fed butter and cheese from time to time when the dairy animals are dry, Stewart and Elijah cannot. Pasteurized dairy almost immediately makes Stewart feel unwell. So to bring these foods that are not only tolerable, but down right medicinal, to their bodies… and to watch them liberally eat of such nourishment has been a really fulfilling and almost overwhelming experience.

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When I see that milk pail, it is a twice-daily reminder that we don’t deserve any of it, and yet God in His mercy created this animal to produce such nourishment and placed her right in our own backyard by His providential hand. And she has been such an easy cow – no kicking, no fighting, and even though we have messed up along the way, the Lord has allowed her to stay with us and nourish our family and with such delicious foods at that.

Such mercy it all is. Such mercy.

I don’t know how long Mabel is destined to be a part of our homestead but I am so very grateful for what she has, quite literally, brought to the table.

stanchion

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In preparation for milking Mabel, Stewart divided the barn into two sides. One side holds Mabel’s stall and the stanchion Stewart built for her along with a corner for feed and tools. The “other” side contains three goat stalls and a goat milking stand.

A couple of weeks ago we coaxed Stanley, Mabel’s calf, into the “other” side of the barn while she was enjoying a snack. I woke up to her mooing at 1:30 in the morning and didn’t hear her again until around sunup. Since then, most nights we milk the goats, separate Stan, and tell Mabel we’ll see her bright and early the next morning. And every morning there she is, not far from the barn waiting for breakfast in the pasture.

We found out the very first morning that Joshie is absolutely terrified by a mooing cow so my morning milking plans quickly changed with him glued to my hip. But together we’re able to fill her feed box and Stewart does the milking.

We are so grateful for the abundance of milk the Lord has graciously allowed and the recent rains that seem to be perking up the pasture a bit for both the goats and the cows. We have made a little butter, a little yogurt, and a little cheese thus far and most meals are now served with as much milk as you can drink and somehow no one has yet to grow tired of it.

Like so many things here on the homestead, we are complete greenhorns in caring for this cow. We’ve been reading Keeping the Family Cow and have gleaned from other homesteader’s experiences but as newbies we are just taking it one day at a time. We are grateful that the Lord, in His mercy, has granted us the care and use of these animals for feeding our family and that, on top of that, He provided a very nice, gentle, and seemingly healthy cow for our first go round.