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Life, Death and Winter

Running a farm has a way of reminding you that life itself is miracle and at the same time it is so fragile.

The last couple of weeks have been extremely difficult for me on the farm. I recently launched the delivery side of our dairy, and the response has been much better than I could have imagined. Every drop of milk we are producing is going to our customers to help them live a healthier life which has been amazing, however the peak of demand arrived just as our real winter weather rolled in.

Generally, this hasn't been a problem. In the past I've always run the dairy sending 80% of the milk we produced to customers and using the extra 20% of our milk to feed our Mangalistsa piglets or to make extra cream and butter. This year I didn't have the pigs, so I felt bad dumping all of that milk and made the move to offer this milk to customers and right when I did the cold moved in and affect our cow's by causing a massive drop in milk production. This left me scrambling to fill orders and moving delivery days around to match the milk cow's production and keep the promises I've made.

There was light at the end of the tunnel coming soon our sweet cow Freya was pregnant and due any minute. I spent the past two weeks checking often and several times during the night. To ensure I was there to help her dry the calf. A wet calf with subzero temps and wind is a sure death sentence for the new baby. Thankfully, she held her sweet calf till the warmest day of the cold snap and had her at noon.

We were blessed with a sweet heifer calf. With overnight temps below zero she spends the nights in the barn under a heat lamp and is out with her mom during the day.

With a happy and healthy calf on the ground and Miss Freya producing plenty of Milk for her new calf and enough to give me some wiggle room on our milk shares I was starting to breathe a sigh of relief!

Till this Sunday. It was extremely cold overnight and when I went outside that morning to let the calf out with her mom and I discovered that my beloved cow Zenya, the matriarch of our herd and one of our best producers had passed during the night. She was an older cow and we are not sure what happened, she has been happy and healthy. Always eager to come in for milking and to be brushed. She was fine during our evening milking session and produced her normal amount of milk and was fine when I checked our new calf at 11pm. I suspect it is possible that she bloated sometime during the early morning from eating more than normal because of the cold.

I am absolutely devastated by this loss and question myself constantly about what I could have done differently or if I should have checked on the cows more often. At the end of the day, I know there is nothing I could have done differently, and these things happen, but it doesn't make it easier. Living on the farm reminds us daily that life is fragile and precious.

I am asking my customers for understanding at this time. I am doing my best to fill orders but may end up shifting delivery days till Freya's production comes up. I have also been searching for new cows to join our herd for the past couple of months but finding quality A2/A2 Jersey cows can be challenging and they are not cheap at nearly $3,000 a cow plus transportation and now we need two. That will lead to a huge budget crunch on the farm especially with feed and fuel costs being so high right now.

But please know I am doing my best to provide Quality Raw A2 milk for your family and these hard times will pass soon.

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