Our little Ginger is settling down and has become the sweet young thing I dreamed she would be. (Now we are really praying she is a fertile young thing too!) Unfortunately, the artificial insemination we did back in June did not take, so in July, Ginger had a nice month long vacation up in Hopland where she was bred to a beautiful black Dexter bull named Meatball.
It has been almost four months since breeding and Ginger has not gone back into heat. Our odds are looking pretty good. She has completely mellowed out, no more bellowing, she comes when we call her, she is generally a pleasure to be around (unless you are a goat, in which she will steal your food). It would be ideal to get her a preg check so we can have a definitive answer -however, once again, living so far from the large animal vet makes it difficult, and transporting her is such a hassle, not to mention stressful for her. We will most likely just let nature take its course, waiting for April to see what happens.
Now there are a few big tasks under way to get us organized and ready for a potential calf and an abundance of milk. We have almost finished designing a simple milking parlor. I've been reading up on the Weston A. Price Foundation website which has tons of information on raw milk and the legalities of herd shares. There is also an exciting workshop coming up that we are planning on attending. The Principles of Raw Milk Production Workshop with Tim Wightman, will cover; balancing soils, forages and rations and the relation to herd health and milk safety, warning signs of failing soil, forage and herd health, proper milking practices and milk handling, animal behavior, animal scoring, basic herd principles and human interaction, milk culture, quality and pathogen testing and how to interpret them. There are five different locations where the workshops will take place across California and Oregon.
I have to say that having Ginger is personally my favorite part of living on our farm. I have really bonded with her. There is no way to explain how much I love her earthy smell or how beautiful and soft her fur is, how she uncannily resembles a lion lying out on the hillside in the sun, or how cool it is to have an endless supply of cow patties for the compost pile. Even though it would have been soooo much easier to have bought a cow in milk, I'm happy to have her and grateful to get this opportunity to raise her up and for us to get to know each other. She really is part of our family now.