Moon Pie the Baby Stealer


Life in the country is filled with strange and wonderful things. Animal things.
That’s right. That’s Moon Pie letting two calves suck on her at the same time. And only one of them is hers.
That’s Gingersnap, her real baby, on the left, and Pumpkin, Glory Bee’s baby, on the right! Sucking on Moon Pie!

Moon Pie had just been milked, by the way! And she could still nurse two babies at the same time, immediately after milking! Pumpkin is still nursing on Glory Bee, by the way. She’s just double dipping…..

Cows LOVE babies!!!

P.S. What about Dumplin? I HAVE NO CLUE. She hasn’t had a calf so far.

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Cream of Moon Pie


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.
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.
Not bad, Moon Pie, not bad!
There’s even a little heavy cream on the top, but heavy cream is the hardest thing to get out of a new mother.
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.
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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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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