It’s no secret that I’ve wanted a cow for pretty much my entire life. I want to make cheese and butter and ice cream and sour cream and all of those lovely dairy products that take up a huge chunk of the grocery budget every week. I also want one because, to me, they are the epitome of the self-sustainable lifestyle.
Just a little backstory: Ted and I go to the flea market that’s held three times a year just about every single time it’s held. It involves almost an hour drive down long winding backroads, about an hour wait in traffic (because you can only get to it from either end of one road, and the traffic backs up onto the highway!), $5 to park about a mile from the front gate, and then a ton of walking to see everything because there is very little rhyme or reason to how it’s all laid out once you get in there!
There is one man there who always has baby calves. Normally, they are males ($50), but a few times he has had females. They are always under two weeks old although he does have a second pen of larger older calves in the back of his spot. I have talked with people over the past three years at his pens, looked over the calves, and gone on my way because I didn’t want a male or I didn’t have a way to get one home or Ted just said no, etc.
This time (be still my heart!!!), he had two females under two weeks old. One was a black and white Holstein cross, and the other was a chocolate brown Jersey-Holstein cross. I was in love with the little Jersey immediately. Seriously folks – I am talking love at first sight. The problem was, another woman had already beat me to the pen first, and she was going to get that little Jersey. I talked and talked to the pen owner and watched her eye my little calf up and down, up and down. She had money. She was ready to purchase. After about thirty minutes, I gave up, and we moved on, looking for turkey poults and (secretly because Ted was adamantly opposed) feeder piglets.
The whole time we looked, I talked to Ted about the calf, about how having a cow and our own dairy products would be so much better for us than buying this stuff in the store because I would know exactly what was in the milk, cheese, butter, etc. I talked about how I had been reading books for the past three years, magazine articles, talking to anybody who could answer any questions I had………..finally, he said that I must know something he didn’t know and that over his better judgment, he was not opposed to taking her home.
I drug him back over there, and there was the little brown Jersey cross!!! The woman had chosen the little black Holstein cross, and I was over the moon!!! I talked to several people there and climbed into the pen with the calves and got that little baby up from the straw. I turned her this way and that, looked her over from top to bottom, and then started bargaining with the man (I didn’t want to seem too eager and blow the deal, but I think he already knew how much I wanted to take her home!). Finally, after a little bickering, I was the proud owner of a little dairy calf, a brand new bottle, a huge bag of milk replacer, and a bucket that was to hang over the fence once she got too big for me to hold the bottle. She was wearing a little collar with a brand new lead, and he showed me how to get her moving along (pulling on the lead did absolutely no good at all FYI – you have to squeeze a little on the hip bones and make a “tsk tsk tsk” noise to get her to walk along and then just use your hip and leg to keep her going in the right direction).
She did fine all through the flea market. She walked right along with us, and everybody wanted to pet her and touch her (kids and adults alike). When we got to the road, though, and she had to cross with all those cars and trucks going through, she froze. She laid down and wouldn’t budge another step. I carried her in my arms across the road and set her in the grass. She walked about another twenty feet and dropped. She was done, worn out, ready for a nap. So was I at that point frankly.
Ted went ahead to bring the van back, and a young man stopped and offered to carry her to the van for me. He took her most of the way, and his mother talked with me about the calf she’d purchased and raised from the flea market the year before. She had great advice.
Ted came up, and I loaded her into the van. Yes, I brought my cow home in a mini-van! 🙂
She is beautiful, she is happy and safe and growing, and she is mine, and I am hers. I am over the moon happy with having a little calf even though I have been up every two hours around the clock at one point during the past week to check on her when she was a little sick (more on that in another post).
Without further writing, I am happy to announce our newest addition, Bessie (which incidentally was my great-gramma’s milk cow’s name during the Great Depression, and I had no idea until days after naming her!):
I have a calf. I can’t believe that I really and truly have a calf. I HAVE A CALF!!!