When folks don't know us and meet us at a party, and then find out we have a farm, what either happens is they say "wow" and then go talk to someone else or they start asking questions about farms or animals. Goes like this, "I always wondered...."
Last night a mother was explaining that the family was out at dinner and the conversation came around to "Hey, have you ever milked a cow?" and then how do they get the milk out of cows? and then "why do you milk them 2 times a day", etc,etc
The wife says to me, "My husband said that there are special kinds of cows that are dairy cows". I said, why yes, certain breeds of cows are usually used as Dairy cows because of the amount of milk they can produce in a day.
Then we get to the part of the conversation that threw me for a loop. She said something to the extent, "My husband also said that these cows are born as dairy cows and so they don't have to have baby cows to make milk". Now that's not exactly how she said it- but I really can't remember because the teacher in me said "Oh, no. Dairy cows are just cows that have had their babies taken from them and then usually someone else raises the baby. The cows need to have a baby cow every year or their milk production will go down." Generally there is a certain amount of time you let them rest after milking them and before you have a new baby cow but I don't know that yet, but will be learning soon". I think the mother felt like she knew this was the answer but wanted her husband to hear it- I have no idea if that was the case because after my 3 minute answer the conversation soon turned back to Dick Clark and football playoffs.
So I left the party wondering and perplexed that this seemly smart father didn't know about dairy cows. Well I thought, I didn't know anything about dairy cows or goats or chickens or anything about the food I eat until I got this farm and was forced to learn.
Why is it that we spend hours of research deciding what car we want to drive, or what computer to buy or what types of pots and pans are the best but we don't give our food much thought? A car payment and insurance can run $300-$600 per month which is about the same amount of money a family would spend on food.
I say this and then I also question myself. Do I pay attention to the kind of butter or sour cream or snack crackers I'm buying when I'm at the store? Do I know what kind of corn goes into my favorite chips? Yikes- when I think about it, it can be overwhelming. Maybe that's why I haven't done the research myself. It's time consuming.
So part of this blog this year will be to take 1 item a week and research it. The first few topics will be dairy related as we have 2 milking goats and soon we will have a family cow (my Christmas present!). She doesn't have a name but she's coming from a gorgeous dairy farm on the eastern shore. She is a Jersey cow and this type of cow is known for its creamy milk and high butterfat content. I see lots of homemade butter and buttermilk in our future as well as homemade ice cream. I guess I'm also going to learn a lot about veal and the harsh reality of milking an animal and the tactical choices for what to do with the baby cow when it is born.
Below is the link to the farm where our cow currently lives until she has her baby.
Here's to a year full of food education.