I remember the first time I saw a Jersey. I saw her at a farm show. I thought she was too beautiful to be real. Such lovely eyes!
I'd never owned a cow, just horses. My husband thinks horses are hay-burners. He asked me, "What do you want for your birthday?" I said "I'll be happy if I get a cow. All I want is a cow." (Maybe after I start making money from an animal of mine, I get the horse, right?)
I follow 'Down a Cow Trail' blog. Tiffany, the blogger, says wonderful things about Graber Jerseys, which happens to be located a few hours from us.
This last May, we rented a cattle trailer & drove to Graber Jerseys. This is a small dairy, operating with 1930s dairy equipment. They milk maybe 25 Jerseys? They sell some of their heifers and cows, and impressively, know each animal well.
After walking into the pen, we are surrounded instantly with Jerseys, asking to be petted, each wanting to sniff us.
I really wanted A2A2 milk, so I had only two options that day. Of course, the ones I bonded with were not for sale or were not A2A2. For those of you not familiar with the term ‘A2A2’, I'll link a couple websites here:
(Quick side note: I now sell raw milk to at least five people who until now could not drink regular boughten cow's milk without feeling yucky.)
At last, I chose Iona, a three year old, currently being milked. She had freshened (had a calf) last August. It was her second calf. I had read it was important to not begin with a first-time mama if you were new to milking, which we definitely were.
I knew you are supposed to:
Make sure her udder looks good,
Her back is reasonably straight, and a few other things, such as
Teat ends should be a level plane
She should have straight legs
Should be friendly, calm
You need to watch her being milked at least once to see how she behaves during milking.
Somehow I missed thoughtfully checking these very important things. The reason was, I wanted to like my cow. I was more into owning a gentle pet, one I could bond with, than I was concerned about the perfect cow, or the max milk production. That being said, somehow, without having a clue what I was doing, I lucked out with one beautiful cow. She does have straight legs, and a straight back, and she's oh-so-gentle and sweet. Her one fault is short teats. This makes hand milking difficult; and hand milking is what I did for the first two months until we started using our bucket milker.
So I wrote a check for her. She had been bred, had missed her last time to be in heat, but was unconfirmed pregnant. We paid an in-between price, which by that I mean, if she wasn't pregnant, we were over-paying. If she was pregnant, we were paying a price $400 or more lower than she should have cost.
We loaded her and drove her home to our little place in the hills. A new chapter beginning.
And that is how we bought our first cow.