Tonight we will become the proud owners of four Murray Grey cows, with two more baby calves due for “hatching” in September.
We came across a sign on the side of the road advertising these cows for sale. After our unsuccessful foray into the world of goat herding, O has been talking about getting some cattle to keep the grass down. So it wasn’t an entirely spontaneous purchase. Last night we parted with our magic beans, and tonight we take delivery of the first members of our cattle herd.
I somehow feel that this now makes us a real farm, as if cowpats are a kind of stamp of authenticity.
This will be another life lesson for the kids, as one of these animals will eventually end up on the dinner table. So I’ll have to think of a way to discourage them from getting too attached. I remember my mum’s childhood story of when my grandfather spent months raising a lamb which eventually became Christmas lunch. My mum and her five brothers and sisters all sat crying around the Christmas dining table and refused to eat a bite.
So it won’t be an easy task to get the kids to keep their distance as apparently they are very friendly cows and have been hand reared… and then there are the two doe-eyed calves on the way, which they are sure to fall in love with.
As for me, I’ll have to resist the urge to bond with these creatures. Separating the mother cow from her calf is sure to pluck at all of my maternal anxieties, and I don’t know how well I’ll go at raising and nurturing a creature only to kill it. But I will make myself do it, as I’m a firm believer that people who eat meat (especially those who love eating it as much as I do) should have more ownership over the process of getting the meat onto their plates. Meat is an extremely valuable commodity, and our society (and our industrialised food system) gives it next to no value. If you eat meat, you should at least acknowledge and understand what it is that you are actually eating.
Meat aside, I’m most excited about the prospect of fresh milk. The idea of a house cow is the epitome of provincial charm to me, and I think of all that organic milk, cream, butter and homemade cheese… yoghurt… Hmmm…
But don’t worry – those lactose-filled fantasies don’t last long. House cows would be a lot of hard work. Having breastfed my own babies, I know what a commitment lactation is. A house cow would have to be milked every day without fail, in amongst attending to two jobs, two kids, a new baby, ten chickens, a hyperactive dog, and a cat with an anxiety disorder.
It ain’t gonna happen.
But hopefully we can squeeze off a few litres to play with while the calves are still babies. I would really love to make my own butter from my own milk from my own cows on my own farm.
Fingers crossed we have better luck as cattlemen than goatherds!