Snow covers the ground, temperatures are dropping, and Clover Creek has frozen over several times this past month. Of course, this also means that the milking parlor pipes and hoses are often frozen when we want to start milking. That’s one reason why we look forward to drying off all of our cows at by the end of each January. We are a seasonal farm where the cows have their babies in March and April each year. Before our cows have their babies – what we farmers call calving – we give all of them a rest from milking.
The months of January and February are the time for us and the cows to take a rest before we start the busy season of calving, quickly followed by a summer of cheese-making and farmers’ markets. This is our time to plan for our year ahead: what farmer markets we will attend, what cheeses we will make, and what changes and fixes need to be done to our creamery before we start making cheese again in the spring. We will also attend several conferences in February to help us to make better cheese and meet all of the upcoming FDA regulations. While we plan out our year, our cows enjoy lots of grass hay to eat, a warm barn to sleep in when it is cold, and snow to play in when it isn’t icy out.
We are expecting around 75 new babies this spring. According to our calculations, our cows should start calving sometime around March 5th, 2014. The first five milkings go to feed the new calves and they still get first priority for the milk after that, so it will be mid-March until we have raw milk available again.