The farm activities began before dawn Friday morning. We woke the sleepy kids from their warm beds and informed them the moment had finally come! It was time for our road trip to get Pearl.
With the suburban stocked with grain-free pumpkin muffins, coffee and water we rolled out of the driveway at 7:30am and met another farm couple (they also happen to have a large family and homeschool!) in Grand Forks, ND around 1pm. We backed our trailers together to transfer Pearl safely from their trailer into ours. Oh my, isn’t she cute? She’s 6 months old which gives us plenty of time to work with her before we need to take on the tasks of selecting a bull, calving, and learning to milk.
After the 4.5 hour drive we figured the kids needed play time. We spent a couple hours at the fitness center pool in Grand Forks to let them burn off excess energy before heading back home.
I couldn’t wait to get Pearl home safe and sound. Even though I knew it was highly unlikely, all the time we were swimming I was nervous Pearl may somehow break out of the trailer and my sweet cow would be wandering the busy streets of Grand Forks! I was happy to get back to the vehicle and find her mooing and eating hay in her trailer.
We finally returned home after 10pm. What a day! 9 hours in the suburban with 6 kids, getting our first cow ever, keeping track of everyone at the pool…needless to say we were exhausted! It was a long, crazy, busy day but we accomplished our mission. We now have our family cow and we adore her.
We went back and forth on what cow would be the best for our small farm. At first I was insistent on a Jersey. (Those big doe eyes! Lots of milk!) However the more we researched, the more we discovered the Jersey probably was not the right choice for our farm. Most dairy breeds, like the Jersey, have been selectively bred to produce a large quantity of milk, usually on a grain diet. And you know what? Feeding grain to cows and overproduction of milk not only encourages mastitis and other health problems but is expensive, neither of which we want to deal with.
Ryan had heard of the Dexter breed of cattle and together we began to research. The Dexter is a hardy, old fashioned, small breed of cattle that thrives on pasture alone and reputed to produce exceptional meat and milk. This means they are easy-keepers for small farms and not so intimidating in size. Pearl is actually 3/4 Dexter, 1/8 Jersey, and 1/8 Belted Galloway, which is where she gets her adorable white belt. I’m hopeful this will be a nice mix!
Pearl should top out at 3 gallons a day of rich milk, plenty for our family as well as her future calf, and all on free grass and sunshine. What more could you ask a cow for?