Got Milk? We Do! Announcing Team Cow

January 15, 2010 | By | Comments (11)

For ages now, I’ve been dying to get a cow into this one-block project of ours.

So far, we’ve been “importing” excellent organic milk from Straus Family Creamery, up in Tomales Bay. (I.e., we buy it at the store.)  But having our own cow would take us to a whole new level.

Especially a little doe-eyed Jersey cow, supplier of the richest milk in cowdom. We’d have her fresh milk for making butter, yogurt, sour cream, cream, ice cream, crème fraîche, buttermilk, and, most crucial, cheese for Team Cheese‘s multiplying projects. Plus, Jerseys are adorable. Large-animal husbandry, here we come!

Then, the questions, the doubts. Am I signing us up for Dairy Slavery? From what little (very little) I know, a cow has to be milked twice a day, at the same time every day (one being at dawn, I think), or she’ll be in agony. We are in publishing, a profession not known for functioning well or even consistently early in the morning.

She also has to be impregnated and give birth so that she’ll lactate. I’m not positive about the rest of the lovely staff here at Sunset, but I’m a little undereducated in the cow-insemination and calf-delivery departments.

Also, there’s the tiny issue of us housing a cow here at the magazine. It’s legal in our town, surprisingly (I checked the local zoning laws; all we need is enough space and a willingness to keep it clean). But our garden is fully planted—no room extra—and I cannot imagine getting corporate approval (laughs, maybe). Details, details!

So: How about a cow share? I’ve heard about them mainly on the East Coast, where farms tend to be smaller and, I guess, more open to unusual propositions. The basic premise is this: You buy part of a cow, and as part-owner, you’re entitled to some of her milk. It’s illegal to buy milk directly from a farm, so this is an entirely legal way to do the same thing—just a bit more involved. Which is exactly what we want.

After some calling around to farms in our area, I found her–our cow!

Adelaide

Adelaide, the Jersey cow.

She lives at Pie Ranch, the wonderful educational farm in Pescadero, and as it turns out she’s already a shared cow—with nine owners, most of them neighboring farmers.

Jered Lawson, a Pie Ranch partner, explained that Adelaide is a whole new adventure for the farm. They’d kept dairy goats for years, but she is their first cow.

The Pie Ranch people don’t milk Adelaide in a barn with suction cups and flexible pipes attached to her udder. Instead, they milk her out in the pasture, by hand.This sounds so impossibly bucolic and lovely that I want to drive out to Pie Ranch immediately.

I blurt out something like this to Jered over the phone.

“Well, she is a little kicky.” Oh. “When we milk, we put her in a Cow-Can’t-Kick.” Hmmm. What’s that? Uh, it’s kind of like a giant bicycle lock, from what I can tell.

Well, so maybe Adelaide is a tad fiesty. We’re up for it! Especially since we could schedule our milking appointments twice a month, not twice a day, according to Jered. All I have to do is finalize the arrangements with farm apprentice and cow-keeper Dede Boies within the next week or so.

Over the next few days, as I tell people at Sunset about Adelaide (and even her lockdown gizmo), Team Cow collects many, many members. Clearly it won’t be a problem finding milking volunteers, at least initially.

Next: What happened with Adelaide.

Adelaide and calf

Adelaide and her first calf.

COMMENTS

  1. Jackie

    How about a miniature Jersey cow? Less space? :)

    January 6, 2011 at 5:14 pm
  2. Margo True

    Wow, Dan. That thing looks like it fell off a bike.

    January 23, 2010 at 8:14 am
  3. Dan

    If you ever get the chance to milk her, I wouldn’t recommend a kicker like this:http://www.gilgray.com.au/vink/images/kicker.jpg

    I’ve been kicked too many times by cows wearing this useless contraption. I hope the Kow Kant Kick works much better for your sake.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:45 pm
  4. Margo True

    Margaret,

    What a sweet story. If our cow gets fractious, maybe we’ll try three-part harmony on her.

    January 16, 2010 at 1:56 am
  5. Margo True

    To Lucretia, fellow cow-lover and chicken-raiser–

    Good for you for getting chickens. Who knows, maybe there’s a cow in your area just waiting to be shared. In the meantime, the goats sound like an intriguing option–one we’ve also considered at Sunset…If you trot down that path, let us know how it goes.

    January 16, 2010 at 1:53 am
  6. Margo True

    To Jessica–

    I know. I was smitten the first time I met a Jersey. It helped me understand why cows are sacred in India.

    January 16, 2010 at 1:49 am
  7. Jessica

    She’s so pretty!! I didn’t know cows could be so adorable!

    January 16, 2010 at 1:42 am
  8. Lucretia

    How exciting to have a Jersey Cow. I’ve wanted one for years but in the city don’t think the neighbors would appreciate her.

    I did get my chickens. They are most wonderful and provide me with gifts every day. Haven’t bought a store egg since August and I share with neighbors.

    Back to Adelaide, she and her calf are just gorgeous.

    Good for all of you at Sunset, working with a shared cow. What adventures you will have. Looking forward to reading about your first milking, making butter and all the other wonderful gifts a cow can provide, including cow pies which are great for composting.

    By the way, I live in Portland, OR and just read an article in the paper that indicates we might be able to have one goat in our yards.

    January 15, 2010 at 7:20 pm
  9. Margaret

    This is a “true” family story about cows.

    My mother grew up on a small farm in Oklahoma in the ‘40s and ‘50s. They had a small dairy herd (very small), and since they had no electricity, everything was done by hand (this was not uncommon then). And the family all worked hard on the land, even the kids.

    My mother had specific cows she was charged with milking. Only a few, because she was just a little girl. And my mom was evidently a runt, a tiny little black haired girl who didn’t grow tall until her late teens.

    So the family would all milk together in the barn, morning and evening. My mother says that they would all sing and talk together while they milked.

    Evidently cows can partly control the release of their milk, and it is family legend that one of my mother’s cows would let down her milk only when my mother sang to her.

    I have always loved that image of a tiny little girl singing to some big old cow in the warm dark of the barn.

    Can I be on Team Cow?

    January 15, 2010 at 6:07 pm
  10. tina K – friend of Nugget

    Wow, that’s really great. I was beginning to wonder how you could keep a cow at Sunset when I first began to read the post. Looking forward to hearing all about it.

    January 15, 2010 at 3:27 pm
  11. Emily Chow

    That’s so exciting! I look forward to hearing more about Adelaide and Team Cow.

    January 15, 2010 at 4:22 am

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