We finally had our last calf for the year on last Thursday afternoon, putting our milking herd at 73 for the summer. That is up about ten cows from last year so we may have to sell a few cows to make sure we don’t overflow the cheese vat.
We have begun weaning the oldest calves and sending them out to eat grass. It is always amazing to see how quickly they go after green pasture and don’t even want to come back to get any more milk. We plan on starting to wean our calves off of milk once they are over six weeks old. Once they are two months old, they are fully weaned. We will move them from the training pasture where they learn to respect the electric fence to our calf pastures where we rotate them through seven different paddocks during the summer.
The grass is definitely growing here on our farm. We have some picky cows that won’t eat certain grasses once they start going to head unless we mow it off for them, so this past week we mowed the pastures behind the cows. These past few days the weather has been great for growing grass but not so great for mowing.
Last Tuesday was our full herd vet check. Because we sell raw milk every animal over two years old has to have blood and fecal samples tested for brucellosis and each animal is given a shot to test for tuberculosis. We spent all morning with our local veterinarian taking samples and writing down each cow’s ear tag number and name for the paperwork.
Cheese making has gone fairly smoothly so far this year. Since we were shipping milk to our milk co-op for the month of May, we only made two batches each week. We are heading into full cheese production now for the rest of the summer, making cheese three or four times a week. Since March 24, we have made over 5,000 lbs of cheese. Our goal for the year is 30,000 lbs of cheese, so we have a lot more cheese to make. Check out the video of Anthony turning slabs of cheddar cheese on Instagram by clicking on the image.
Farmers markets are in full swing now. If we aren’t making cheese, we are probably at one of our markets (on some days we are even doing both). Boalsburg Farmers Market is every Tuesday and the Juniata Farmers Market is every Friday inside the Station Mall in Altoona. Huntingdon Farmers Market is every Thursday afternoon. Ligonier Country Market is our busiest farmers market which is every Saturday morning all summer long.
Well, that’s all the updates for this month. Would you like to get these newsletters every month via email along with our monthly cheese inventory? you can sign up for our monthly updates via the form at the bottom of our How to Purchase page. Thank you to all of you who support our family farm and allow us to keep making great products.
Dave & Terry Rice and family