Tough Decision

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It’s been a week now, so I think I can talk about it. I don’t have my Jersey milk cow Gracie any more. I sold her. I spent the last week feeling really sick about it, just a pit in my stomach. Let me tell you the story.

We got Gracie in December 2010. She birthed and we were in milk. The training was difficult. It was her first time being milked, and my first time milking a cow (though I already knew how to milk goats). Behavior aside (eventually she calmed down, for the most part), another issue was that she didn’t let her milk down readily . She saved it for her calf, who shared the milk with us. And also, she has small teats, so the milking time was quite long — 45 minutes to an hour — and I couldn’t even get out all her milk.

Some days I declared I’d had it and I was going to sell her. Some days I felt I’d put so much time into her already that I would stick with it.

Come November 2011, friends shared a milking machine with us and it made all the difference in the world. Overnight, milking changed and was doable. We settled into a more efficient routine. We got more milk and in shorter time. I thought, “Okay, I can do this.”

By March 2012 (just recently), we dried Gracie up for the last months of her second pregnancy. The break was fantastic — not having the milking routine was a wonderful rest. It wasn’t nearly long enough.

Then she gave birth on May 17, 2012 and we were in milk again. It was exciting. This time around I knew what I was doing, she was better behaved, and we decided to bottle feed the calf to avoid the whole won’t-let-down-her-milk issue. I knew it was going to be so much better.

But it wasn’t. She didn’t want to be milked by machine. She had tons more milk (due I think to more efficient milking right at the beginning) — milk which had to come by hand. Want to know how long it was taking me to milk her? I really don’t know — because I was quitting each milking at over two hours! And that had to be done twice a day! She was so full of milk and her teats so little and I couldn’t do it any more.

So I made the heartbreaking first step toward selling her. Selling her was easy, actually. God had a plan already worked out. *this part gives me chills*

I asked friends who run a herdshare (Wholesome Family Farm) if they were interested. They were, and in fact had waken up that very morning thinking they would try to get another cow that day. We worked out the exchange, and they took Gracie home to their herd that day. Though she is still warming up to their machines, it sounds like she’s doing well there. I hope so, anyway!

So that was the story. Now how about I answer some questions I think you may have.

How am I doing? Well, I’ve felt sick about the whole thing for going on a week now. My emotions run between failure and shame, to relief and freedom. A little bit of missing Gracie. And some more of feeling like I abandoned her.

What will we do for milk? We are participating in the Wholesome Family Farm herdshare.

What did I learn? That my next milk cow better have hand-milking size teats. Even if I do milk by machine, I want a cow that I can milk by hand efficiently if need arises. I want a cow that my children can milk more easily, too. But — we’re not actively looking for a milk cow right now, and I don’t know when I will.

Okay, let me hear it. What do you think? I know you’ll be kind, and thank you for that, as I’m still feeling fragile and burned-out. :)

On another, more cheerful note, I am writing this post from Phoenix-area, Arizona. I’m here getting some help with a back-end software switch. Boy, is it hot! Do you live around here and want to get together for dinner tomorrow evening (Tuesday)? Contact me and I’ll forward you the info about our group plans.

This post is shared with Simple Lives Thursday.

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Comments

  1. Heather says

    Bless you for being so honest. We all have the romantic image, and it is refreshing to hear true hardships in that dream. TWO HOURS a day!! Girl….you made the right decision, albeit a heart-wrending one.

  2. caitlin g says

    i think you did the right thing. its important that our emotions dont get in the way of making the best decisions for both us and the animals in our care. i’m sure she felt your stress as well and that it stressed her out. now she’ll be somewhere she can be properly milked and you wont have to feel like shes a burden to you. you’ve learned what you need to look for next time around and thats the important part. i think you should have peace in your decision. you certainly made the best choice for everyone.

  3. Thea Harvey-Barratt via Facebook says

    Thank you for sharing your experience, strength, and hope. I haven’t been able to get a cow yet. But had chickens. I was so excited. This makes me a real farmer, right? When, a couple of years later, I was down to one scared and lonely chicken because all the others had been eaten by foxes, I gave her away to a good home. I went through all those same emotions.

  4. says

    I know there will be a day when I have to sell Daisy too. I have arthritis in my hands and wrists and it gets more difficult every month. I am still hanging in there though…. I would wish my daughter and son in law would continue. We shall see. I know how I would feel if I sold her but I sure understand.

  5. Lynda B says

    Your time has value! Now you’re not only getting back..what, 4 hours??… of your life back each day to put to other priorities, but by supporting a herdshare, you’re helping keep access to fresh milk available for other people who couldn’t possibly make the choice to ever own their own cow. I wouldn’t feel bad about this at all.

  6. Kay says

    You had to do what you had to do. Four hours a day is time consuming. When did you have time to do other things? I think you made the right decision and now you know what to do in the future when the time comes that you decide you want to try having a dairy cow again. I know this was a heart-wrenching decision for you.

  7. says

    Awe, you’re not a failure! You experienced something, grew and learned from it. That’s success! Plus you shared your story- so now others can learn from it. If I ever get a cow- I’ll have more of an idea what I am looking for. Thanks so much for sharing the journey. Enjoy your break whole-heartedly. If you do get another cow in the future, you’ll be more ready for her if you enjoy this down period. Life is all about seasons :-D

  8. says

    Aw, Wardee! *hugs* What a tough decision! But from the sounds of it, you made the right one (or at least one within God’s plan and will for you) since He made it so easy. Sometimes He gives us a choice, and it’s ok either way– we can choose to tough out as situation and He will bless it, or we can opt out, and He will bless that as well. It’s not a matter of “good or bad” but rather what *is* and He honors His children in their desires and wishes. :-)

    Don’t beat yourself up over it, because it was still a valuable experience for learning and growth. I think I went through similar emotions when we decided to shut the doors of our first business, the coffeehouse. In the moment it felt like a failure and admitting defeat. In retrospect, though, it taught me so much– not only about business, but about my own expectations and limitations. But most importantly, it showed me that it was something I really did WANT, and I was able to take the lessons I learned into the future for my next go ’round.

    I just found out that the folks who run the dairy where we get our milk have some Ayreshire heifers that will be calving soon, and they are asking a reasonable price for them. I am sore tempted… :-)

  9. Christie says

    Goodness … four hours a day! That’s almost like the time spent nursing your own baby! I can imagine your emotions though. We just stopped getting milk from our local herdshare because I was feeling scattered with summer schedules and vacations and getting to the farm on the right day to pick it up, and I was feeling so conflicted over the decision … sad even! So yes, I think its understandable that you’d feel sad over giving her away.

  10. Charlene says

    Do you still milk goats Wardee? Or will you rely only on the herdshare? I ask becasue we are considering a couple of goats but I am concerned about even that amount of work! No way would I have the time to milk a cow or handle the amount of milk one produces!

  11. Sally Bishop via Facebook says

    Heavens, you gave it 10,000% !! She’s in a good place; you’re still getting her milk, in a sense. Most people would never consider giving 2-4 hours of every day to one child and ignoring the rest of the family, and you were doing that for your cow. I admire you. You are an example. You fought the good fight. I think it was absolutely the right choice. <3

  12. says

    This post is helpful to me as a future homesteader – we have lots of decisions to make! I appreciate you sharing your experiences so we can learn the lessons you have.
    My note to self: check size of teats on milking animal….Who woulda thought??? LOL! I so appreciate you, Wardee!

  13. says

    Your story is similar to ours, though you’ve fared much better! We never could get our cantankerous cow to let us milk her. We kept her to breed again and it didn’t take, so now we’re trying to decide what to do. We’ll either find a bull around here or she’ll go to freezer camp. I wouldn’t feel right selling her because she’s been so mean. Just about gave my husband a concussion one night!

    I totally understand your emotions!

    I’m about an hour north of Phoenix and would love to have dinner with you! I’ll email you.

  14. Chan says

    You are not a failure! This is how we learn, Wardee! If you decide to get another milking cow one day, then you will know exactly what the trade off is. And the new set-up sounds perfect for right now! Yes, you abandoned Gracie…you abandoned her to God’s plan. You are so capable and so kind to share your experiences with us. Release yourself, okay?!!

  15. Sher in Ky says

    Both my parents grew up on a farm, milking twice a day, and they spoke about the difficulties with the teat size. I’m now living on the farm with them. They have Saanen dairy goats. They still talk about teat size, orifice size, not to mention the patience of the goat which makes a huge, huge difference in milking ease and efficiency. Their goats are hand milked. I’ve helped from time to time milk the goats and can tell a difference between the ones with short teats and small orifices — work you to death. So really you made a good decision for you and your family. You need the time and energy working on other things and yet you still get to reap the bounty. We are currently in a herdshare program but have a Jersey calf who will be bred later this year. We hope and pray that she has great teats!

    • says

      Shalom Wardee,

      Hugs to you friend!!

      I understand the roller-coaster of emotions as we experienced them as well when we sold our milking goats. But, let me tell you that you did the right thing for YOU all at this time in your lives. I am so thankful to see how G-d worked out the sale and now the herdshare. I pray the L-rd leads you to whatever works best for you regarding a cow in the future.

      For us, my hubby milked several Nubian goats twice a day until his band became so bad he could no longer do it. I tried, but because of my muscle weakness, I could never get milk out. The children could not milk consistently getting all the milk out. My poor hubby hung on, in pain, because he felt he should – we bought the goats to have milk, we bred the goats to have milk, we invested in equipment to have milk, but the truth was, physically, it was causing him horrible problems. We prayed and decided that having fresh home-milked milk was NOT worth the toll it took on my husband and thus on us. We sold our goats and equipment to some wonderful Believers and even though we still are sad, we know it was right for us at the time. I pray you feel G-d’s peace in the days to come.
      <3 Vickilynn C. 6:8

  16. Yvonne says

    I admire anyone who keeps a cow or goat for milk. I love raw milk but know I don’t have the patience or the lifestyle to do the milking myself. I feel a bit lazy for not trying. You did your best and made the right decision for all.

  17. Abiga/Karen says

    Try to think you did the right thing because you did! It is hard to part with an animal and hard to deal with feelings of failure. My daughter has goats which I cannot help with as much as I used to and then can’t do as much as far as milking anymore either. (Never was very good at it anyway.) She has dwarf Nigerian goats and has learned about the small teat, mama not wanting to let it down, and ornery behavior also. She has spent so much time and her oldest son too taking care of them and dealing with it and not really getting much milk and spending so much money on food etc. that she wants to give up too. She is probably going to sell all but a couple of them and try to produce better teat enabled ;o) mamas. We just hope she can get part of her investment back too. They have tons of chickens, ducks and now a few turkeys and she has 7 children so she is busy always. Praying for healing in your heart and the joy of the Lord to fill you today and each day. Blessings.

  18. Kimberly Mackey Jacobson via Facebook says

    I really appreciate your honesty. These are the stories we never hear~it always sounds so romantic and pure. Our first-time Jersey is due to calf in about 6 weeks and we’re praying that she takes to milking easily. I can’t imagine how hard your decision was, but thank you for sharing it.

  19. says

    Oh Wardee, I have really been thinking of you. I know how hard it had to be. We are milking a cow right now that has issues. Our last cow we milked for 13 years. She is now either 17 or 18 years old and didn’t take last year, so she is a pasture ornament. She was such an easy milker. Her teats were good sized and she also was so calm, you could just walk out into the pasture if you wanted to, sit down and milk her out. We bought this cow last year. She had freshened for her first time. She does not take change well and the long ride home and a new farm and barn were not to her liking. She had been machine milked and we have a machine. We wanted to milk her by hand the first couple of days just to get a feel for her udder. She dances and won’t let you. She just freshened about 3 weeks ago and we have been fighting all sorts of things the whole time. There is no milk herd share close enough to us, and the other milk I have found is below standard. We are praying for wisdom on what to do. I also know the relief side of what you are feeling. When we dried Honey off last December (long story), it was a great relief to not have to milk every day.

    I know you made the right decision and I am glad you have good milk nearby!!

  20. Marianne says

    Every dairy farmer I know has told me NOT to get my own cow. I feel like the price we pay for milk and eggs is very fair compared to the work it would require to maintain my own cow and chickens (not to mention we’re renters with very little lawn =))

    I am proud of you for letting go of ideals and choosing the thing that makes the most sense for you and your family. Choosing sanity is always the right choice!

    You are inspiring in so many ways.

  21. says

    ((Hugs)) I totally understand your decision and I think you stuck with it longer than I would have! We have 2 calves on our cow right now, so that helps with the milking load, but cow ownership is a lot harder than a lot of folks think! I definitely think you made the right choice– still hard, though.

  22. Alan says

    How much milk were you getting in those two hours of milking? I’ve got a cow with small teats and I can milk her out in about 20-30 minutes getting around 5 gallons. Maybe you need help milking? It’s not the same milking a cow as it is a goat. One way to get her to let the milk down is to allow the calf to start to suck, them pull the calf off and milk out 3 quarters. A good resource for the family milk cow is http://familycow.proboards.com/index.cgi
    They are very accommodating and can help you along. They are like minded folks.

  23. Chris Mitchell via Facebook says

    Change does not equal failure, I have milked animals most of my adult life and I’m +60 years. But there were times when it was just to much and I quit and then started again when I was ready. I have worked on a cow dairy and a goat dairy, and had my own. You said you had goats before, I find goats much more user friendly, and leaving kids on them means I only have to milk once a day. La manchas have very good (not goaty) flavored milk) I make aged cheeses but not butter, thats where cow milk is nice because you can skim the cream off. Enjoyed your sharing, farming is a 365 day a year job regardless of illness, emergencies, and weather.

  24. says

    My Jersey has very small teats and is hard to milk. In time, I learned how to do it, but she’s not easy to milk. Luckily, she’s very patient. I found leaving her 100 percent grass fed cut down on how much milk she had which made a big difference. She’s due to freshen the beginning of September and I hope all goes well. I am currently milking 11 goats by hand. I’m a human milking machine!

    • says

      Eleven?? I was just thinking I can hardly keep up with the 2 Alpines we have and need to sell one! Do you sell the milk? I only milk once a day and get nearly a gallon from each goat. Our family of 3 can’t keep up! Even with just once a day milking, it consumes the better part of my morning. I need to restructure the routine to speen things up. How do you do it?!

  25. Jeanne Stapelkamp via Facebook says

    Oh what a difficult decision you have had to make. I feel so bad for you. But…you did what you had to do. Feel better soon.

  26. says

    Sounds like God knew what was best and had a plan for you and Gracie.
    We have 2 goats that were freshened 5 weeks ago and we have had our ups and downs ….doubts.
    It is finally working out and though we are milking twice a day it only takes about 20 min. each time. We are really bless that we have been able to work out adjustments.

    Now we have extra milk and the opportunity to use the Cultured Dairy course instructions from you. Today is buttermilk and later this week we’ll make mozzarella cheese for Father’s Day pizza.

    Many thanks & Blessings,
    Kristine

  27. Elizabeth says

    Oh, Wardee, I’m sure that was a really tough decision for you. I’m sorry that it was so hard with Gracie. On the plus side, we are WFF herdshare owners, so my kiddos will get to enjoy her milk. Thanks for sharing her! I’m praying God will ease your mind and soothe your heart.

  28. Leola Stellwagen via Facebook says

    So sorry to hear of your struggles, Wardee. You made the best decision for you and your family, though. Hopefully, you will eventually be able to look at this as a learning experience rather than a failure, but your emotions are probably still pretty raw right now. Hugs and blessings.

  29. says

    Wardee,

    I understand your sorrow, your loss… I understand your sense of freedom… all perfectly normal emotions. Hay out here in Arizona has skyrocketed to $22.00 for a 3 string bale (100 pounds) and last year I had to take one of my two milk cows to butcher… I just couldn’t do a $1,000.00 feed bill each month. It broke my heart to do that to ol’ Sally… Now I just have Cookie cow and she has the short teats you talk about. When she freshens, I go through the same emotions… and have thought at times of selling her… but for me… I just can’t sell Cookie… I’ve had her for over 6 years and she’s become part of the family. Know there are many of us who understand your battle and know you did the right thing for you and your family!!!

    Nance Sparks

  30. Nance J Sparks via Facebook says

    Sending love and prayers that you find peace with your decision… you did what was best for you and your family!!! Don’t be hard on yourself.

  31. says

    I know that was a hard decision. The thought that we should sell our Jersey has crossed our minds on occasion, but as raw milk is illegal in NC, this is our only option. It is a lot of hard work, even though our Jersey is wonderful. I decided to milk her through this year so…..no break. Enjoy the extra time and use it to learn to do something that makes you happy and that you will look forward to doing.

  32. says

    I’m so sorry Wardee! I can see in the photo that those teats would absolutely be impossible to milk. I really desperately want my own milk cow but I may wait until I can buy a proven hand-milker (I want a Dexter) as opposed to a heifer that may or may not take well to hand milking.

  33. Treatlisa says

    You’ve got a lot of other stuff going on – sometimes we have to edit/delete what isn’t working… You will feel better with a little time…

    Too bad I will miss you in Phx. I live there in the winter but am 3 hrs away in the summer at 7000 ft. Much nicer summer weather. :) Stay cool for your visit! And don’t feel bad about the cow! Lisa

  34. says

    No guilt!! You did your best. Hugs.

    Some things are for a season. Gracie is probably happier, and you still get fresh milk. Sounds like a win/win to me.

  35. says

    Oh, this must have been a hard decision! I believe it is always the best thing to follow God’s leading for your own situation. If keeping a cow works for a family, great! (we LOVE our family cow) If it doesn’t work out for another family, that is not a failure…. just a learning situation. Selling your cow could well have been an answered prayer for someone else.

    Thanks for sharing so honestly. A family cow is a daily responsibility and time commitment. People need to know that it isn’t always easy!

  36. Jenn M says

    Don’t be so hard on yourself! Totally understandable to miss her and all of that, but wow what an adventure and education in first time milking! Whew!! Enjoy the relief.

    Jenn M

  37. says

    You recently came to mind as I was moving my kefir from counter to refrigerator. I was wondering to myself how you kept up with all the milk that your Gracie gave you. :) While my daddy and grandpa were dairy farmers I’ve never milked (machine or hand) a cow – ain’t that sad?? yup, it is. You have had a great experience not only for yourself but also for your family. It sounds like you and the family made the best decision you could for your family and for Gracie. Obviously it was God ordained – and that is just a fabulous! I think your emotions are very understandable. Don’t beat yourself up – you tried, you really tried and right now it just didn’t work. Glad Gracie has found a good home and that you are still able to have fresh milk.

  38. says

    Oh, Wardee! I sooo can relate to the feeling that you are a failure! Our goat is the same way, with small teats, taking forever to milk! But, understand, that you didn’t fail at all…you just found something that didn’t work :) Thanks so much for your honesty and sharing your heart so openly! :)

  39. says

    Wardee… I checked out the place she is living now and I bet she is real happy in her new home…with cows to pal with and all that wonderful green grass… oh yes, she probably is used to the green grass, just looked so foreign to us here in AZ… I’m sure you provided her a wonderful life while she was with you, and how she has cow pals!

  40. Maria says

    I can only imagine how you must feel! My Jersey has small teats too (in the back, not the front) and it was murder on my hands and back to learn how to handmilk her. She was a first-timer (so was I), and not very patient. We made it 9 months before switching over to a machine. My Holstein was a dream to handmilk when she first freshened, but now she won’t let her milk down for handmilking. I have to use the machine on both. I know what it’s like to sit there for FOREVER trying to squeeze that milk out by hand. I know the relief that comes from drying the cow off and having a break. I know the excitement of having the cow freshen and having fresh milk again. (No herdsharing in WV.) I know how attached a person can get to their milk cow. I’m so sorry you’ve had to let Gracie go. I know it hurts you. It hurts me to hear it. At the same time, I think I can understand the relief. God bless you for putting Gracie first and finding a good home for her. I hope that one day you will be able to milk again, and with pleasure. Thanks for all you do to help others through your work and your blog.

  41. Sharla Austin Williams via Facebook says

    Agree with what you did, sounds like you went through a lot of turmoil.

  42. Amy G says

    I completely understand. We just sold our herd of dairy goats about 3 weeks ago. It was a tough decision for us. We stuck it out a very long time, when we should’ve sold them a year ago, really. My two oldest (11 and 9) took care of all the chores for that entire year. They were getting tired, doing their best, but the goats were struggling, and I was struggling knowing that I couldn’t be there like I needed to. Like you, I range between shame that I couldn’t do it, relief that we only have the chicken and dog chores (chores went from over an hour each time to now about 15 minutes a day), and also missing the goats. In all, though, it was a great decision. We learned lots of lessons, and have a plan for if/when we get our goats back. Until then, we have a source for raw goat dairy, so we don’t have to rely on store milk or none at all.

    Thanks for sharing with us.

  43. Penny Simmons says

    I think you are wonderful. I’m sorry for the stressful situation, but I’m so proud of how you handled it. And I’m thankful that you see the Lord’s work and blessing in the situation, too. He does take care of us! Now enjoy the break, enjoy the milk share and keep an eye out for God’s leading and timing in the next adventure!

  44. Jamie says

    Hello, Wardee.
    You did the right thing! Your children need you more!
    Whew, it sounds exhausting. I’m glad you are not doing that adventure anymore.

  45. says

    It sounds to me like you made the best decision for yourself and for the whole family. There’s a lot which needs to be done to maintain your homestead, and it sounds like one activity was eating up a LOT of time. Certainly you have also learned a great deal from having Gracie.

  46. Lauryn says

    Wow. What an awesome growing experience! I find the most difficult things are often things that make me grow the most. And while you might feel like you failed, you didn’t. You put her in the best place for her and you in the best place for you. Thanks for sharing. As for the Back-end software switch, I was really confused because I saw back-end switch and thought most people don’t go to Arizona to get what they can get from behind the shed. lol

  47. Norma says

    WHEW, I have to hand to you for your stamina and determination!!! I would never have had the patience. But, you did the right thing, I think. The next cow will be more cooperative! :-)

    What happened to the calf? It’s so CUTE!!! I love little calves.

    Keep us updated on your next milking adventure.

    Don’t beat yourself up too hard, when you get the next cow, you won’t miss Gracie as much. One sure does get attached to those critters tho………eh?

  48. Rose C says

    Wardee,

    I am sorry you are having an emotional rollercoaster ride with deciding to give Gracie away. I know you really cared for her or you would not have had such a tough time with the decision and even now after placing her into a good home that you trust will treat her right. I will be praying for you to find peace and comfort in your decision.

  49. Leslie says

    I am so glad you are so real and put this on your blog! I know you did the right thing for you and your family and you have certainly, once again, helped me.

    I’ve been debating getting a milking cow, but the work involved is what was holding me back. We get our raw milk from a Mennonite family that lives nearby for $2.50 per gallon, which is a great price, I think. Probably the work and the money involved in getting our own cow is not really prudent. Maybe someday, but not now.

    Thank you!

    • Gigi says

      $2.50!! Wow! I can get fresh milk for $5/gallon if I drive two hours, but most folks in my area are paying more like $12/gallon, and we are in a semi-rural area, even.

        • Angie says

          $2.50 per gallon is cheaper than even the yucky stuff at the regular grocery stores. Is the milk from grassfed cows? If it is, then you are getting a screaming deal – enjoy!!!

          • Rachel says

            I am getting grass fed milk from my neighbor for $3 a gallon. I cannot be thankful enough. I cant believe the prices some people pay! We use 4-6 gallons a week.

  50. Cindy L. says

    Hi Wardee. Thanks for sharing. I can understand your mixed feelings. Guilt should not be one of them. She is a cow and will be fine wherever she is as long as she is treated well. You can try it again and with your experience can take your time to find the RIGHT cow at your leisure AND when you’re ready to try it again. :-)

    It’s great that you have a cowshare program.

    Hope you enjoy(ed) the nice warm weather in Arizona.

    Based on your experience, would you recommend others trying it?

    Thanks!

  51. Toni says

    I agree with everyone here! Plus, it is so cool that she went to the place she did and that God had it all worked out ahead of time! You guys did a great job with her and are an inspiration to many. I have often thought of a mini-cow for our family but know that now is not the time for us but hopefully someday. We are blessed to have two sources of fresh raw milk nearby at reasonable costs too.

  52. Katie G. says

    I can’t believe you stuck with it as long as you did! I can’t imagine how hard that was! As someone else said, if you get an old world jersey cows, or mini cows, do give less milk, and eat less grass. They are a lot easier to care for, and are the traditional jersey size.

  53. Kathy says

    Hi Wardee,

    I’ve relived the selling of our milk goats through your post. I felt so much anxiety and guilt when our circumstances changed and I was no longer able to milk them. Selling them was the right call though I still miss them. You get so bonded to them from daily milkings. Hope it passes soon and know that you made the right choice for your family.

  54. says

    I so admire your honesty and sharing!
    I’ve taken the ecourse on making cheese and all the information you share is amazing! It helped me tremendously when we got our two dairy goats.
    Some things on our homesteads just don’t work out as planned. I know I put expectations on myself and find that I need to re-adjust and re-think certain aspects. I almost laughed out loud seeing the picture of your sweet cows udders. I just cannot imagine it! I stand and applaud you for trying. Wow! Talk about perseverance, Wardee.
    I would be ‘processing’ my own thoughts as well, but there’s no condemnation here.
    God give you the strength, grace, and wisdom for your homestead. You surely inspire me in learning and growing in this food venture~Blessings to you, J.

  55. Susan says

    Wardee, You gave it more than ‘the old college try’! Those teats look awfully small and I can’t believe you toughed it out as long as you did! Just breathe God in and breathe God out, he provided for your needs and will continue to do so…

  56. Lydia says

    Thank you so very much for sharing. I want a cow & don’t know anything at all about keeping one. Knowing the true experience of a faithful mom helps a lot. I feel that I’m getting a real picture of what it might be like. I also know that it takes an amazing person to humbly admit that something isn’t working and find the positive resolution. You are an amazing inspiration. Thank you for sharing your lovely spirit.

    Lydia

  57. says

    I’ve been going through this for the first time with our 2 Nigerian Dwarf goats. They just kidded for the first time, and I thought I was prepared, BUT learning to milk, while they learn to BE milked, plus bottle feeding babies in the house (while homeschooling, and all the cooking, and gardening, and running my business, and potty training, and being pregnant) literally added 4 to 5 hours to my daily chores. I was not at all prepared for that. It’s been almost 4 weeks and things are better (less crying!), but I’m really anxious to get the babies sold, and milking is still taking 45 minutes – you think your cow’s teats were small, try extra small teats on a mini goat!! Thankfully they have less milk to get out – but my better producer (gives 3 to 4 cups per milking as a first freshener!) has teats the size of the last joint of your pinkie finger!! Thankfully I have a willing 6 yr old who’s hands are the right size, so he helps me – but I honestly can’t milk her on my own. I love having the milk, but am rethinking breeding them this year. I hate to pay for feed though, if they’re not giving milk in return – but I don’t know how realistic this all will be when I have a new baby!

  58. RobinP says

    Oh Wardee! Bless your heart. I know you’ve had issues with Gracie since the beginning. This had to be such a hard decision, but the right one. That was proven by the fact that God had it all worked out. :) I completely understand. Lynette’s teats are very small. We’re using her for a nurse cow this year and she’s loving it. Natalie is still over-achieving giving 8 gallons a day and our heifer Nosey (Natalie’s daughter) is giving 5. I thank God for my machine every day and that Nosey came into the stanchion to be hooked up to it without a hitch. I’ve milked by hand, but with this quantity, there wouldn’t be enough hours in the day. Thank you for sharing and enjoy the rest.

  59. says

    I wanted to get a milk cow. I wanted to get milk goats. My husband said, “NO.” He said it the way I know there is no other answer. His mom had done the milking thing. He’d seen all the work and knew that buying the raw milk that we do from a local farmer is so much easier…and worth it. With all the canning, animals, home-schooling, plant nursery that we have, enough is enough. I know it’s got to be hard to say goodbye to such determination, but I honestly think you won’t regret it…too much. :)

  60. tara says

    Oh Wardee, I think you are being much to hard on yourself! It sounds like you did the fair thing for everyone involved. 4 hours a day of milking time is much to much for all involved. I understand missing a member of the farm, but it sounds like she is in a wonderful situation and it couldn’t have gone smoother. Give yourself a huge pat on the back for the experience you had and thank the Good Lord that you can move onto other things now! :)

  61. Chris V says

    Hi Wardee !!! My heart goes out to you for this difficult decision, but know that God is in control. Sometimes with these difficult decisions, it’s His test to our faith. Just trust that there will be a wonderful lesson that you will understand very shortly and take comfort in the fact that God is Love and he never forsakes or abandons us. It will all work out for good. Trust, lean on, take comfort in that truth. You were blessed to have the experience of Gracie in your life as was Gracie to have you as her “keeper”. You continue to enrich and nourish so many lives and we thank you for that. Sending wishes for extraordinary grace to surround you like and shield and to comfort you in an atmosphere of Peace.

  62. Denise says

    Hi Wardee! We are very new to the milking world…. my idea, but the hubby is doing all the milking :o) She was actually my much requested birthday gift (I’ve wanted a milk cow since I was little). I’m in charge of the milk and cream once it magically appears in the refrigerator. I love your website for this very reason!!!! I milked a goat with small teats and it was miserable :o( Gracie will be just fine and you’ll be able to visit her. Now you can get back to “normal” life :o) Ah, wished I lived in Arizona so I could take you up on your dinner invitation. If you’re ever around Northwest Missouri, I’d love to meet you!!!! Blessings, Denise

  63. says

    Oh this is sad, but I am sure you will be happier with another cow. Please find one that has been a once a day milker. It is so much easier, and while you can sometimes transition a heavy producer into a once a day milker, it is better to already get one that is used to that. Also grassfed only, no grain, in case you were feeding grain. Good luck in your search. We are greatly anticipating our Jersey to give birth any day now and long for milk, butter, cream, cheese, kefir, whey… All the best things in life. I also hand milk her, once a day, and her teats are small in the back, so I’m not looking forward to that, but once a day is so much better. ;) thank you for your blog.

  64. Aileen says

    This is my first post on GNOWFLINS – I’m new so I don’t know all the details, but it sounds like you gave it your all. 2 hours twice a day is commitment, plain and simple, but there comes a time when it just wears on you, emotionally. I know this was from a long while back, but you don’t need to feel guilty. This website is amazing and whether you extract it or someone else does, it’s what you do with it.

    I get my milk from a gal who drives out and meets locally – it is wonderful. Glad to pay her the $7 for it and I make milk, yogurt, will be making my dad’s coconut glace ice cream recipe soon, too.

    • says

      Aileen — Thanks! I have no regrets about giving up Gracie. She went on to be stubborn for her next family, too. But he was stronger than me and could handle her. Anyway, we’re thinking about going back to goats again… We’ll see. For now (and since selling Gracie), we’re happy to get our milk through a herdshare and support their work!

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