Over 10 years ago a close friend was going through a divorce and asked if my husband and I were willing to take her 2 mini-donkeys and 2 mini-belted galloway cows. She knew given that we had the land and we 'talked' about the interest of farming...she had us.
At first it was about raising beef for our family.
One, because when you have 50 acres...you might as well put animals on it. Two, we knew where our beef was coming from and that was important to us. There wasn't anything genetically modified, they weren't being fed a corn diet. But a real diet...grass.
Raising cows is easy...and it's hard.
For the hard part, it's the winter time. We still do not have a tractor that can haul round bales to our pasture. We still have to set up our round bales, fence them, then manually push and roll them out to the pasture. Have you done this in the dead of a VT Winter? Have you done this in the middle of a snow storm? It's tough work and I'm grateful I have 2 strong sons' that can now help with that task!
Cows drink lots of water, especially dairy cows. And we actually go through some very dry summers. There were times for a month that our spring dried up and we had to fill up several buckets of water from our own home well and bring to the cows. Back and forth...every day!
But other than those unique circumstances that do come up, it's easy. If they have a field of grass and water, they're content!
How can we name our cows and eat them?
All my boys know is that our beef at dinner has a name and it doesn't bother them. Listen, when you have a cow in your herd for 10 years or more you do get an attachment but there's a practicality and purpose. We don't raise a number of beef that we can't handle, we raise it for our family and friends. The death that gets me more are the calf's that don't survive, that for whatever reason they only lived 1 or 2 weeks...they didn't have a full chance. But this is mother nature and you learn these things when you have your own farm.
Naming the cows is our purpose to keep track of them and it's just a thing for our kids to pick out fun names like 'Skywalker' (my son was very much into stars wars at the time).
Where to go now?
My husband and I have debated this question on 'do we grow our herd more or not?'. Every since Covid-19 we sold our beef to our local friends so quickly because there was a need. But the thing is my husband and I run other businesses and not only do we not want to out do ourselves we also want to be careful in only having a herd that is sustainable. I dislike waste and I dislike like the current 'fast food'/'chain restaurant' culture the U.S. has created. It's a food industry gone wild and our expectations as a society on food equals if its not cheep; I'm not getting it.
Well...try being a farmer and living...real food shouldn't be cheep! So that's where we are at now and I'll keep you posted. Are you a little farmer that ponder these same things?
Please email me - I'd love to hear your story!