Hi there and welcome back to the Gubba podcast I’m Gubba a first time homesteader following in the footsteps of my homesteading forbears and on this podcast we discuss everything prepping, homesteading and everything in between. This week I want to give you guys a homestead update along my journey out here on homestead and discuss some things I’ve learned. On my homestead journey
It’s the end of June and summer is almost here. There have been some cold spells and a lot of rain but the sun is finally starting to peak through. The pace of life on the homestead is picking up as everything is coming to life and more and more projects emerge. It’s so interesting to see how things come to life as the sun emerges - I feel more active, the bees buzz at full speed gathering pollen from various source, my chickens are happily foraging, and the grass is growing tall for my cow to eat.
I’ve ran into a few problems so far on the homestead with my most recent one being fencing for my cow. In my other podcast I discussed cows versus goats as a milk animal and told y’all I decided to get a cow with one of the main reasons being I already had fencing. Yes, I did have fencing but I didn’t account for the other cows that are in the back of my property. I allow another farmer to graze his cattle in my pastures. Last year he did the same thing and the cows were so sweet and nice so I was expecting the same thing. This year he brought on steers which are young castrated males. They started escaping the fencing even before I got my cow. Then they stopped. Then I got my cow and all hell broke loose - literally. I woke up one morning and the fencing I had set up for my cow was completely s destroyed. COMPLETELY. I had three strings of hot wire running on both sides of this corridor I have from the field to the barn and the whole thing was torn down and destroyed. I knew it wasn’t my dairy cow that did that and I realized that all of these young steers were out - like the whole herd of 20. They trampled all of the fencing and what was worse is that now my cow was out with them and didn’t want to come back. I tried to herd them with my utility vehicle to no avail. I tried t spray her back to the barn with a spray bottle - didn’t work. I tried to lead her with grain - didn’t work. I was so frustrated. Then they meandered over to my garden, destroyed a fruit tree, trampled some of my garden and toppled all of my rhubarb, my bees were right there and it was 100% a miracle they didn’t destroy my bees too in the midst of the chaos. I think god knew how much I could handle and just didn’t let them touch the bees because I would have lost it. I ended up chasing them around the perimeter, falling in a puddle, and finally getting my cow back to the barn after the big nightmare. Seriously I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night thinking the cows were out and dreaming about it. It was so traumatic it’s been affecting my sleep. I can laugh about it now but wow.
I told the farmer how they were extremely destructive and they came to fix the fencing. Turns out his fence battery died so no wonder they stampeded the whole place. They just blasted through the fencing. They flew around all of my cows buckets and ate all of her mineral I had out for her. It was so stressful. My fight or flight kicks in every time now I see them outside of the fencing due to that one chaotic morning.
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How to milk your cow once a day?
So after this morning I decided that I needed to go to once a day milking for my cow. She got out of the fencing due to the other cows knocking hers down a few more times but nothing as traumatic as that. I decided to take her down to once a day milking after all of these shenanigans to save my sanity and I had a massive surplus of milk. She’s doing great with once a day milking - which I do in the mornings. If you didn’t know, if you don’t milk your cow they have the chance of getting mastitis which can be a gnarly infection in the udder because milk was in there that needed to be emptied but didn’t get emptied. I use an iodine dip after every time I milk her to help keep that area clean. So far so good. The dairy farmer I got her from said that now would be a good time to take her to once a day milking because she will be having her baby soon so that means I will stop milking her the end of July. She needs time for her body to recuperate before she has a baby.
Everything else on the homestead is more relaxed compared to that scenario though. I can’t believe I thought goats were escape artists and that cows weren’t. I do believe having the younger steers was a large part of the problem.
What do you do with a lot of milk?
Another problem I am facing is an abundance of milk. Imagine that having too much milk is a problem? I’ve been getting crafty with how I use all of my cows milk. I literally thought before I got my cow that I would be able to drink a good chunk of it. Man was I silly - thinking I wouldn’t have to deal with her getting out and that I could drink a a lot of her milk. Well, I can’t drink a ton of her milk to keep up. So my chickens have been extremely spoiled because I make them ricotta cheese regularly and give them the whey water to drink. They absolute love it and go crazy for it.
How do you freeze dry milk?
I’ve also been freeze drying my raw milk. Soon, I won’t be able to freeze dry because it will get hot and I can’t deal with my house heating up so I will have to find an alternative for milk use. I love the freeze-dried milk because it tastes like cheese and reconstitutes back into milk incredibly easy. A majority of the nutrients are maintained in the process as well. I actually have the freeze dryer going at this moment for a batch of milk and it is taking way longer than expected. A batch of freeze-dried milk takes about 24 hours from start to finish. Well, I am at 24 hours and it probably has another 12 to go because of the hot temperatures. It actually has a pop up that says “hot room temperature batch time may take longer.” Because I don’t have air conditioning, there is nothing I can do about that.
What is milk kefir?
I use the milk to make kefir which is so dang delicious. Kefir is fermented milk which is so beneficial for your gut biome and I love doing it with raw milk because wow talk about a powerhouse of a health food item.
Besides the abundance of milk, another problem I’m running into is landscaping and maintaining my yard. I didn’t realize that maintaining my yard and the chicken run would be so much work. I’m happy I bought a riding lawn mower from the previous owners because I would probably die out there if I was using a push mower. I have a little chunk of acreage I maintain as my yard and the grass grows so fast! I’m out mowing and weed whacking weekly. Even with the nice equipment I have, it’s still a day project. I’m not even accounting for the sprawling fields of grass that I have. I have trees in the fields too and I need to get out and peal the grass away from the trees so the trees can have a chance to grow and not be bombarded by grass. Grass loves nitrogen and so it depletes the trees of it. So upon my research I realized there is a field lawn mower that is like 2k+ that I hook behind my utility vehicle and mow the fields. Having long grass isn’t great because animals like skunks get in there and the mice run rampant. I’ve kind of put this problem off until next year because I’m just learning this year what I’m facing.
My garden has also become weed central. I’m constantly fighting back the grass and weeds like it’s a full on battlefield out here. One cow is not enough to eat this grass and even the herd of cows I have is not enough to eat the grass. I genuinely debated if I should get sheep so they can go and eat the grass. Another option is to bake the grass into hay but I don’t have the equipment and that’s an investment.
I went out to my garden last night and tried pulling out some weeds but even the grass is like as tall as me in some of the beds I didn’t get to already. I was super excited because I found some greens I had planted out there earlier this spring then forgot about due to the weather I had. I plucked all of the weeds around them so they had some space to grow. Excited to see what they turn into. Most likely, they will turn into my chickens snack.
Speaking of the chickens, I brought in five new chickens into the original 10 that I had, and that was kind of a mess. The original 10 chickens were not very welcoming or nice to the new 5 chicks. It took a while, and they aren’t on the best terms still but I was constantly having to manage them to make sure the new chicks got food and water. Why can’t they all just get along?
Well, I hope you enjoyed my homestead journey update and some of the things I have learned along the way. I look forward to keep sharing with you this journey. Thank you for listening and I hope you have a great day!