Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mastitis and the Learning Curve

Over the weekend Ruby developed milk mastitis because of a few things:  1.  I didn't finish milking her out Saturday morning because I forgot the hobbles and she "told me" she was done being milked by kicking the pail over and in general being difficult to milk.  Without hobbles to stop the kicking there really wasn't much I could do (were I an excellent knot-tier I could have just made hobbles quickly, but I'm not, a one year old could slip out of my best knots lol) and 2.  Right as her milk was really coming in we started giving her a high protein grain while she was being milked.  The grain amped her production up and she was already putting out a lot of milk for a heifer, so between the two she got fouled up a bit and had a bit of mastitis for a couple days.  I milked all of her teats out thoroughly and it gradually cleared the quarter with the problem, and now tonight her milk is clear again.  I am SO relieved that it didn't progress and require antibiotics, we're trying to manage her in a "holistic" manner and part of that is avoiding medication where we can.  Pretty thrilled that it cleared with careful milking.
We did make Queso Blanco though while attempting to make Ricotta, and it is delicious even though it isn't what we started out with in mind.  It's a mild crumbly cheese that takes no time at all to make.  We've had it on tacos, eggs, and in soup these last few days and have really enjoyed knowing that it cost a fraction of store-bought and is so superior in taste.  Just satisfying on all sorts of levels :)
We have been watching what kinds of farm land are available out there, and have realized that even though we would prefer to be farther out and not able to see neighbors - for the high quality forages we'll need to grow we're going to have to be somewhere in the bottom land.  Sub-irrigated would be ideal.  It's going to be a long time putting feelers out before we find just the right spot, but once we do we'll be able to finish steers or have producing dairy cows on it without having to supplement with any kind of feed or grain - just let them eat grass like they're meant to.  Plus, whatever improvements we need to do (pasture seed, water system, fencing etc), the NRCS will cost-share with us because we will be working towards organic and sustainable production.  How cool!  Just learned that today.  There are other government divisions that will cost share too for beginning farmers and ranchers (less than 10 years farming), so maybe we'll be much better off starting up than we know.

Oh, and reason #2 to wear mud boots while milking:  when your cow kicks the bucket you don't get milk on your socks and in your shoes!  Luckily I was wearing mud boots when I had this realization (and milk splash half-way up them).