Monday, January 25, 2010

But It Ties You Down...The Cow -- Part 3

Owning a cow is a responsibility (duh!) that one doesn't take on lightly.  As James Herriot of All Creatures Great and Small fame used to say, "You must attend."

But turning things upside down a bit (in the event someone is trying to justify cow ownership), chances are that if you have a job, you're already "tied down."  Just as you regularly show up for work, we, too, take our self-sufficiency "job" seriously out here just off the one-lane road.  We show up for work. 

Yes, it's a job, albeit a lovely one.  But the point is, it's no more "tied down" than having a regular job where you have to drive to somewhere and show up at certain hours, put in your allotted time (for someone else) and work your personal needs and desires around that job. In fact, you probably have a little more control with a cow than you do with an outside job.   Am I being myopic, here?  Tell me if I'm wrong, now...

Mind you, this doesn't address an individual's need for income.  And, Commentor Ruta is right: it's tough, if not impossible, to make a "living" farming in this day and age.  On the other hand, if we take a long look at our real "needs" versus our wants, there's a possibility we can reduce those wants and needs somewhat so that less income would be required. We're not talking austerity, here, either.  Commentor Debbi provided a quote that seems appropriate here:  "Wealth consists not in having great possessions but in having few wants."

Annual vacations with a cow are simply a matter of timing.  Cow gets bred to calve when you'll be home.  Vacation when the cow dries up just prior to having her next calf.  Or put the calf on her full time if the situation at the moment isn't ideal for milking.  Perhaps you'd want to consider milking only once a day at a time that's convenient and give the calf the rest.  Of course, it must be the same time each day, and that means rain or shine. 

And, by all means, buy a cow suited to your needs. If you're going to put the calf on full time, you don't want a cow that would normally give you 3 gallons of milk in the morning and 3 gallons again at night. The calf simply will not be able to consume it all, and you'll wind up with a cow that has a spoiled udder.  You have a choice of breeds to suit your needs, so look for a breed that gives a modest quantity of milk rather than be overwhelmed with what to do with a huge quantity.  Feeding grain, too, pushes the cow toward heavier (and less healthful) milk production.  It's up to the farmer to manage the cow. I mentioned a blogpost or two back, MM and I don't really want to go anywhere or be anywhere else, so vacations for us are not an issue.

For exploring the pros and cons and basic cow husbandry get a copy of Dirk van Loon's book, The Family Cow, available at Amazon online. (at least here in the U. S.--for my over-the-pond readers, please let me know which large bookseller you prefer as a reasonably priced source). This book is a complete primer on family cow management, and it's not only practical, but very "honest."

Finally, if you've not read it, you might want to find yourself a copy of Duane Elgin's book Voluntary Simplicity.  You can buy it from Amazon for as little as one cent.  (that doesn't include shipping nor does the price reflect the value of the book!)  Published originally in 1981 and sub-titled "Toward a way of life that is outwardly simple, inwardly rich," Elgin has a knack for going right to the nub: 

We each know where our lives are unnecessarily complicated.  We are all painfully aware of the clutter and pretense that weigh upon us and make our passage through the world more cumbersome and awkward.  To live more simply is to unburden ourselves--to live more lightly, cleanly, aerodynamically.  It is to establish a more direct, unpretentious and unencumbered relationship with all aspects of our lives:  the things that we consume, the work that we do, our relationship with others, our connections with nature and the cosmos and more.

More on simplifying tomorrow..How Much Is Enough?

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