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Cream of Moon Pie

Apr
22

Training Moon Pie has been quite the little adventure. Every day, she’s a little bit better at it. She’s got the memo now, she just has to stop and study it every couple of minutes so she can remember what she’s supposed to do.

Every evening, we separate baby Gingersnap and put her in the alleyway in the barn. In the morning, a temporary gate is tied to a bar in the barn to confine her to the back of the alleyway so that I can bring in Moon Pie. Moon Pie is gently encouraged to enter the milking parlor (after saying good morning to her baby through the gate) and hooked up to the milking machine. She’s the messiest eater in the milk stand I’ve ever seen, flinging food everywhere out of her food tray. Baby goat Cherry loves to sneak in and hide out under the milk stand to eat her leavings.

After milking, I bring Moon Pie out of the milking parlor, release the baby, and they go out into the world (or the barn yard) for the day. Gingersnap gets to suck on mommy all day, hang out with the other cows, play with the other calf, frolic around, enjoy the sunshine, and learn how to be a cow. Then it all starts over again when she’s separated again in the evening.

Valentina is milked after Moon Pie, then I take all the milk up to the studio. Moon Pie is giving about 3/4 gallon per day. This is from one milking per day, and she’s holding up some milk for her baby, too. Cows are good at holding up milk for their babies, and especially good at holding up their cream. But Moon Pie is looking to be a pretty good little dairy girl. She’s half Jersey/Brown Swiss (with Glory Bee as her mama) and half some kind mixed mutt beef from her daddy. (This is what happens when you let your cows hang out in bars. Glory Bee brought home a biker that night!)

I’ve always thought Moon Pie looked like she had some good dairy characteristics, favoring her mama more than her papa, and even with holding her cream up for the baby, I can tell she’s got some good cream in there.
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If you can’t see the cream line in the above picture, the below picture points to the cream line with the top of the spoon.
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Not bad, Moon Pie, not bad!
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There’s even a little heavy cream on the top, but heavy cream is the hardest thing to get out of a new mother.
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With this gallon of Moon Pie milk, I skimmed off two pints of cream, which will be used for ice cream this weekend, and made a batch of yogurt with the rest.
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With milking Moon Pie once a day, and Valentina twice a day, my days are centered around milking. Sometimes it seems like a chore and I procrastinate getting started. But once I get out there, there’s a rhythmic flow to handling the animals and milking them and taking care of the milk, checking for eggs, feeding Roman his bottle, and getting it all done of a morning, then repeating it all again in the afternoon. It’s satisfying when I tuck those eggs and bottles of milk and cream away, and when I make cheese and yogurt and other things. We made that–my animals and I!

How cool is that?

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Morning with Milk and Eggs

Mar
21

Hark, what new goat climbs on yonder gate?
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That’s Valentina on the left, and on the right–
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That’s Aranel!
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While Valentina is a full Alpine, Aranel is a 50% Alpine, 50% Lamancha cross.
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She’s also quite pregnant. She’s bred, due in May. She came from the same dairy in Pennsylvania where we got Valentina.
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With those ears, she looks much more Lamancha than Alpine. I thought the ears made her look like an elf, so I named her Aranel after the Elven princess from Tolkien.
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She lurks jealously outside the milking parlor while Valentina is working.
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It’s not your turn yet, Aranel! See you in May! Meanwhile, I’m at the barn every morning and every evening to milk Valentina. First, I feed little Roman Reigns his bottle (while Cherry watches on).
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Next, it’s to the milking parlor with Valentina.
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I’ve done some cleanup and redecorating in here. The goats like things pretty!
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I strung up some really cute cow lights. And a flying cow swooped in from somewhere.
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That’s what happens when you hang up cow lights! Be careful!
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After milking, it’s time for the egg hunt. The ducks are laying….everywhere except….
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….in the duck nesting house that was made for them.
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I run around the barn yard looking for duck eggs, check the chicken house for the early bird layers in there, then take my morning egg and milk haul to the studio. Valentina is giving about a quart per milking.
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The chickens are giving as much as two dozen eggs a day now.
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I have six laying ducks, so they give half a dozen a day. If I can find them.
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These eggs are HUGE. Here’s a duck egg compared to a (large) chicken egg.
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I’m loving my mornings with milk and eggs. There’s something so satisfying about this life, the daily reward of food from the animals in return for the effort of tending them.

That’s my morning, and I’m sticking to it!

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