OK, I need to admit this straight up—I have a love thing going with another lady. Her name is Holly, and she is my wonderful Jersey Milk Cow! She loves me too. In fact, I think she would crawl up in my lap for a snuggle if she could.
I want to introduce you to the Jersey cows found in America today. They’ve been around for a long time, but their origin is unclear—there are those who claim they originated in Africa, others say Asia, and some even declare they come from a French or Scandinavian influence. Given their name—Jersey—most think of them as coming from the Isle of Jersey in Britain. They are considered a heritage breed, and are raised by heritage farmers—like our own Gather Heritage Farm—to promote the original purpose of the Jersey as a mid-size family milk cow like those found on the Isle of Jersey. We believe the Heritage Jersey is a homestead cow from the past that greatly enhance our homesteading life and will continue to do so in our future.
Where there is a home, there must be a cow.
—R. M. Gow, 1936
There are so many wonderful things about these beautiful Jersey girls! I want to share some of the delights we have found while sharing our homestead with Holly. Here are a few quick reasons we love our Holly.
- Jersey milk cows are small-framed, with usually fawn-colored coats with black and white patches around their faces, adorned with the most beautiful long eyelashes.
- They are known for their docile, easy-going temperaments.
- They are very resistant to disease, and less likely to suffer from udder problems than other breeds.
- They give birth to their little calves easily, and make excellent mothers.
- Their milk is considered a luxury product! It has a high butterfat content of 4.84%, which is 25% higher than average milk. Protein reaches about 3.95%, which is 18% more than other breeds. It also has 25% more calcium than average.
Getting Holly’s Milk
Obviously, one of the best things about adding Holly to our homestead has been the opportunity to thoroughly enjoy her milk. When we are milking her twice a day she gives us 2 gallons in the morning and 1-2 gallons in the evening. During the winter we have been milking her just once a day, and she regularly gives us about 2.5 gallons each day! Can you just imagine how much our family is enjoying the raw milk, delicious cream, freshly churned butter and ghee, and even fantastic homemade ice cream and cheese we are able to have from her gift of milk to us?
For a minute, let’s get down to the basics of milking Holly. She is a dream to milk, and we share a real bonding moment together each time I milk her. I usually milk her by hand, so let me give you a brief look at how that is done.
I bring Holly from her free range pasture to the milking shed each morning, and tie her off outside. I make sure I brush her, clean her udder, and let her take her last dump and pee before she comes in to the milking stall. Once inside we give her two scoops of feed, which we serve to her in a half-barrel my husband built on 2x4s for her. That way there is less waste than if we fed her in a bucket like many do.
The tools I need to have ready include a covered milk pail to hold the milk, a milk bucket into which the milk falls from her teats, teat wipes to make sure she is really clean, and some bag balm, which I use to lubricate her teats while milking. I also have some iodine dip to which I’ve added about two drops of Melaleuca essential oil to apply after milking. That’s all I need if I’m milking by hand.
We also have a Ultimate Easy Milker milk machine to use especially if I am gone and our farm hand needs to do the milking. It milks 2 teats at a time, and each bottle hold about one quart. So you merely fill up the quart, clamp off the machine hose, empty the milk into the milk pail, and then reapply the machine to a teat.
Once I’ve cleaned and lubricated her teats, I do the hand milking. She gives milk easily, and it’s an easy chore for me since I been milking about five years. Once she seems to be done, I make sure to hand strip the teats (carefully milk to be sure all milk is out), and then dip her teats in the iodine dipper, which closes off the teats to any bacteria that could get in. I use the iodine dipper because she has had mastitis in the past, and this is recommended just to ensure she is free from bacteria.
We take Holly back to her pasture, and we take her 2 gallons of milk in to the house to filter and refrigerate as soon as possible.
Enjoying Holly’s Milk
I want to use the rest of my blog to tell you all the ways we are able to enjoy the milk Holly gives us. There just is nothing as good as raw milk from your very own Jersey gal. Here are some of the special ways we have found to enjoy Holly’s milk.
Drinking fresh, raw milk
Yes, I am the Paleo Mama, and yes, my family drinks raw milk. We feel that raw dairy milk is so healthy for our family, and so much different than the pasteurized milk you buy in a store.
Raw milk is very rich in fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, K, and E. It is also rich in water soluble vitamins like C and B-complex. It is also very high in calcium.
Using the fresh, delicious cream
Holly’s 2 gallons of milk each milking gives us nearly a quart of rich, delicious cream. We use that in our coffee, but there are so many other uses for it as well. Consider some of these ways we regularly use Holly’s cream for.
Freshly made butter
I make butter in my Kitchen-Maid mixer, and also in the electric butter churn I recently acquired. Churning is just a matter of mixing the cream until the butter separates from the remaining butter milk. Once you have the solid mass of butter, be sure the squeeze out any remaining buttermilk. You can watch me make some butter here.
Once you’ve tried fresh ghee, you may want to use it even more than fresh butter. Ghee is clarified butter from which the milk proteins have been removed. It has a high smoke point, and is perfect for cooking, and has an incredible flavor. In Indian cuisine it is considered “liquid gold.” It’s like butter on crack!
It’s one of my favorite things about having a milk cow. We separate her milk from her cream and take the cream and make it into butter. Then we take the butter and gently cook it until the milk solids separate and begin to caramelize. It can be scooped out and applied generously to morning oatmeal for kids waiting anxiously on the counter; or sautéed in hand-picked shiitakes, or added to your morning coffee! And in my kitchen it bears no fancy label or lettering—just “Ghee” written with a permanent marker on a Mason jar and set aside to wait for its time of use.
Our own fresh cheese
I began making cheese when we were raising goats, and now I make it from Holly’s milk, which we think is so much tastier than goat cheese. I like to make fresh mozzarella cheese, which is so much easier than you probably think. I just start with a gallon or so of Holly’s milk, some citric acid powder, some liquid vegetable rennet, and kosher salt. You also need a food thermometer, a large pot, spoon, and lots of time. If you want to try making cheese for yourself, there are several good recipes online, including this one.
Recipes Just for You
Holly and I want you to get excited about the wonderful milk she and her Jersey girls produce for us homesteaders. Let me share a couple of recipes you can make using this delicious raw milk.
Creamy Shiitake Mushroom Soup
We also harvest our own Shiitake mushrooms on our farm, and there is no better combination than fresh raw milk and newly harvested Shiitake mushrooms. You can make a delicious Creamy Shiitake Mushroom Soup that will taste so much better than anything you could get out of a can.
The basic ingredients you will need are chopped Shiitake mushrooms, some white chopped onion, some spices like thyme, pepper, and sea salt, organic chicken broth, and fresh, raw milk.
I don’t really use a recipe, just get a rich, tasty mixture of milk and mushroom going. If you want to start with a real recipe, there are plenty online, including this one.
How to make
All you need to do is sauté your mushrooms and onions in some olive oil and sea salt until soft. Then add your chicken broth and milk and let the mixture simmer until it thickens to your liking. Blend the mixture with a blender or your immersion blender, and enjoy!
If you know me, you know I love my coffee in the morning, in fact, it’s one thing I have always said I will never give up! One of the super-good, over-the-top ways to enjoy a cup of coffee is to have what we call bullet proof coffee. You know what that is? It’s coffee to which you add some delicious, freshly churned, butter!
You will need your large empty mug, a couple tablespoons of fresh butter, a tablespoon or so of MCT or coconut oil and about 2 cups of high quality coffee.
How to make
Make your coffee like usual. In a small pan or bowl, add your brewed coffee, butter and oil. Blend with an immersion stick until there is a thick layer of foam on top (like a latte). If desired, you can add optional ingredients like cinnamon, vanilla, dark chocolate or a sweetener like Stevia. Now find that motivating, creative spot where you can enjoy this special morning coffee that comes with a gift from your own Holly jersey cow.
Homemade Snack Pizza
Our kids love to snack—all day long if we let them. One of the quick snacks we can let them help us make are little homemade pizzas, using a tortilla shell, a little tomato sauce, and some fresh homemade mozzarella cheese.
You will need a tortilla shell for each little pizza, some left-over spaghetti sauce (or even just a little butter), and a handful of fresh mozzarella cheese.
How to make
Put a little sauce or butter on your tortilla shell. Add salt and pepper or a little Italian seasoning or fresh basil if you have it. Layer some fresh mozzarella on the top. Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes. Let cool a bit and then dig in.
Why Don’t You Get a Holly for Yourself?
So let me end by saying this: “If possible, every homestead ought to have its own Jersey milk cow—or 2 or 3. Our entire family loves Holly, and her milk gives us some of the most delicious drinks and foods you can imagine.
Cows are amongst the gentlest of breathing creatures; none show more passionate tenderness to their young when deprived of them; and, in short, I am not ashamed to profess a deep love for these quiet creatures.
—Thomas de Quincey