Friday, September 28, 2012

Eating with Gusto

Last November, Violet had a little bull calf. He was much prettier than Chappy, aka Clover, ever was. He was also less shy of people. Still, the fate of male calves in a setup like ours is pretty much the same- he was table bound.

Gusto was quite different from Chappy. He would nurse when I was milking, for example, which seemed pretty great at first. Violet would let down her milk much more vigorously than when I was just milking. Also, he wasn't taking even half the milk, so we had plenty. As he got bigger, he took more of the milk, and we did begin separating him the same way we had done Chappy. He was also harder on Violet than Chappy had been; her teats kept getting little scrapes and cuts from his nursing. Finally, we decided to wean him.

What we learned at that point is that Violet is a much easier milk cow when she does not have a nursing calf. She relaxes more, and milking is a pleasanter task. We got a surprising amount of milk once we weaned the calf and more cream. There are definite advantages to weaning a calf instead of waiting for Violet to do it.

Another thing I learned from Gusto is that banding a calf requires a little more focus on the task at hand. It seems that even though I banded him, I still had a little bull calf. This was not much of a problem until he got to be about ten months old and wanted very much for Jason to stay clear of the pasture. The braggadocio of a bull calf is comical until you remember that he outweighs you by a few hundred pounds.

That means we now have beef in the freezer and this on the stove. Because we now own a pressure canner, it makes sense to get the bones all turned into broth and out of the freezer. I'm giddy! Even my canning book calls broth a convenience food.

I'll simmer these for a couple of days, then can them in pint jars, and I'll have a beautiful ingredient for pretty much any sauce or soup.

This also all means Violet is alone again. I really want her to have another cow all the time, but at the moment, we cannot make that happen. The good news is that she did not exhibit as much stress as she did when we killed Chappy. Her next calf is due in April, and if that one is a heifer, we'll keep her to train into a milk cow.

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