Saturday, 5 January 2019


My friends following along on Facebook and Instagram will be familiar with this cow by now, but I've been so slow in keeping this blog up to date due to an increase in workload and no energy remaining in the tank at the end of each day.  I'm not complaining, I bring it all on myself and have no one to blame.
In November we went to  our local livestock market to buy a ram, but as there were none suitable for us, we wandered across to the cattle yards to have a look before returning home with an empty trailer.
In the yards of beef cattle this Jersey stood out from the crowd, looking very frightened and nervous. 
I could see nothing wrong with her and suspected she was being culled from a large dairy due to her small size udder and teats. I also noticed she had not been dried off, there was milk in her perfectly formed, but small udder.
Just the day before this I was wondering how I would stretch Lavender's nine litres per day among the calf, pigs, poultry and have enough left over to make some cheese.
Here was what appeared to be a miracle right in front of my eyes.
Of course my heart was beating fast and I went off to the office to inquire who was selling her. Maybe I could find him/her to ask the history and some details before making a rash purchase. But although I was told the name of the dairy farmers, they were not present at the sale.
Back to the pen I went, examined her carefully, and after a short discussion with Brian, decided to bid for her. We'd take our chances.
When the hammer fell on our bid of $300 I was just a big silly grin in tears. The lady sitting next to me asked if I was OK. I nodded and croaked out something like "We just bought a Jersey"

Onto our trailer she walked and it was when she looked at me with those big Jersey eyes that I knew she was our Honeysuckle cow.

 I had a good feeling about this cow,  was confident we had the experience of years of training cows, and was determined to make it work.
Her udder was increasing in size by the evening so we made a makeshift laneway, using a couple of long gates, and ushered her into the milking parlour.
She was shivering with fear, fought her head against the bales that restrained her head over the feed drum, and hardly let down any milk.
I wish there were photos of us wrangling a fully grown cow into our dairy, but it was all hands on deck. A few touchy moments of dangerous risk taking on our part, and more than a few moments of thinking that we must be crazy.

By the third day we took away one of the gates and coaxing her into the milking parlour became less stressful for all concerned.  She began letting down all of her milk and needed milking twice daily.

During those first few days I spent lots of time with her to gain her confidence in me.  I knew she came from a large dairy, so would have had minimal human handling or gentle human interaction.
I phoned the dairy, previous owners, who were not very forthcoming about discussing her history with me.
Fair enough, a strange type of cow woman ringing them out of the blue, they probably don't have the time for chit chat. Well, actually, if it were me selling a cow I'd be overjoyed if a nice lady phoned me to tell me that my cow went to a good home instead of the butcher. Oh well, move on Sal.
To their credit, they emailed me a photo of her herd card that told me she was born in 2015, had one calf in Dec 2017, and had not conceived again when given access to the bull in February 2018.

After a week of training, she soon became eager to trot up to the milking parlour as soon as we open the paddock gate. She happily munches on her special feed mixture in the bales and her milk production has increased slightly.
Lavender seems such a huge "humpalumpa" now against petite Honeysuckle, and the girls are getting along happily together.
Milking times are a little more involved, with both cows waiting to be milked in the mornings, and Honeysuckle is milked again in the evening. I'll eventually drop her back to once a day milking when her production decreases, but for now there are so many mouths (and beaks) to feed with all of the milk.
The new challenge for now is closely observing the timing of her estrous cycles so we can have the *AI man here at the correct time.

We called in the AI man three weeks ago when Poppy came into estrous (on heat) and we waited with fingers crossed for the twenty one days, hoping she had conceived. However, last evening she showed all the signs of estrous, jumping onto the other two dairy cows and generally being a real pest in the yards. I called the AI man who agreed to call again this morning. But wait a minute!
Honeysuckle was due to come into estrous last Tuesday and we thought we had missed her conception time, thinking all the action had been going on the night before. We added that into my detailed notes about what signs she displays at which time during her most fertile period. So when Poppy was jumping on Honeysuckle last evening, we saw that Honey was also a bit fidgety and showed all the signs that it was actually her that was on heat. 
This morning rolled around and it was clear that both of them were on heat. What are the odds? I phoned the AI man to ask him to bring two semen straws instead of just one.
Two cows, one visit. ;-)
The above photo shows them waiting in the yards next to the dairy this morning. When the AI man turns up I like to have cows at the ready so he can get on with his task immediately. Within ten minutes both cows were brought into the bales, one at a time, where they munched happily from the feed bin while they were inseminated.
The AI man was paid in cash, a bottle of wine and a tub of honey, before he went on his way again.
Being ready when he arrives, and paying him immediately is showing professionalism and respect for the people we need to call in to help us with the tasks that we aren't skilled at, and consequently, they never hesitate when we call on them.

 And just to be a show-off, here is one of the cheeses I've been making with Honeysuckle's delicious raw Jersey milk. A runny camembert style with a Roquefort bloomy rind.
The calendar is marked twenty one days ahead, and we will be watching for any signs of estrous activity around those few days and nights. Fingers crossed that it will pass without event.
It's times like this when we wish we still had our own bull but the management stress of a large bull on a small property is an even bigger problem, especially when dairy cows need to be brought in for milking every day.
Why do we do it? Ha!
Thanks for dropping in and my wish for you is a year of happiness, good health and and abundance of all the good things in 2019.
Be kind.
Sally XX

*Artificial Insemination


  1. Hi Sally, Honeysuckle is a very pretty looking girl. One of our neighbours who actually lives four hours away recently left 11 young bulls on his property. He also has an old horse on his property that another neighbour (resentfully) feeds. The neighbour who owns the bulls has said he is going to have them castrated but has not done so as yet. We wait with interest to see what will happen. When he was up over Christmas this neighbour said to me regarding the bulls "Well that is the start of the farm". Who knew farming was so easy!

    1. Oh Sherri, I despair for the poor animals of these types of people/morons. What can I say?

    2. I know, I know. I leave to your imagination how their fields and paddocks might look. The other week our orchard was full of Devil's Apple Seed that had blown over the fence.

  2. Honeysuckle has the most beautiful cow eyes. Let's hope for the best now.

  3. Sally I hope that both the girls are both in calf. I think Honeysuckle is such a darling. Here's hoping her smaller teats dont get too swollen when the calf arrives. I know I am looking too far ahead but I live in hope.

    1. This second time AI procedure with Poppy showed she still has a type of malformation with her cervix. It may correct after she births a calf, but to get in calf is the problem. Honeysuckle will be monitored very closely to ensure no discomfort when her milk comes in after her delivery. I'll milk her, (share milking with her calf) to keep her udder size manageable. Our year revolves around lambing and calving times, making sure we're always on hand at each calf birth, and nearby for lamb births. Yeah OK, you can call me a helicopter (parent) farmer. ;-) XX

  4. She is lovely Sally! Our dairy farm friends know each cow well and would have been happy with your call. Obviously not everyone farms like that! Fingers crossed for your AI results. Are you missing Mulga Bill?

    1. Yes, some of us are more approachable than others Liz. ;-) I'm missing Mulga Bill's services, but the AI man never jumps fences, knocks trees over, or bellows at all hours of the night and day. ;-)

  5. a beautiful jersey cow she is too! Honeysuckle is a lovely name for her
    so glad she settled down for the milking, must be so different from a big dairy
    lovely post
    thanx for sharing

    1. We have quite a floral posy of cows now Selina, Lavender, Poppy and Honeysuckle. I wonder who will be next?

  6. Honeysuckle is just beautiful Sally! She is lucky to have found a new home with you and Brian.

    Im amazed you managed to educate her so well in such a short space of time, she must have known she was in for a good life with you I reckon!

    I wish we were neighbours so I could learn from your wealth of knowledge if and when we get our own little dairy cow!


    1. If I know you well Em I'd say that you will be studying and researching when it comes time for your new cow, but I'm only ever a phone call away. XX

  7. I love Honeysuckle, and look forward to hearing more about her farm adventures. She's so fortunate to have heard friends and a faithful owner, to take care of her now. She was so lucky, you didn't find a ram. ;)

    1. Everything was in our favour that day Chris and I still can't believe how lucky we were to get her.

  8. A great post Sally, I always learn so much from you!
    Honeysuckle certainly landed on her feet when she started living at Jembella with you and Brian.
    And that cheese!

    1. Thank you dear Jude. Honeysuckle is becoming used to her every need and desire being indulged with great affection and has responded exceptionally well. Her milk is divine for cheese making.


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