To explain how we gage the amount of milk subscriptions we “allow to be purchased” each session; I look at how our cows are milking. During the first two months of lactation I expect that milk will increase; and during the last 8 months a steady decrease occurs. I count how many gallons are milked every day and figure TWO GALLONS LESS to be allowed for subscriptions. (The reason for this two gallons less is that cows will drop milk for many reasons, in heat, feed, new milker, even for being sad.) For the family milkers, I go the opposite, and allow 1-2 gallons to go to the farm share and the milkers get the rest of the milk for their “fee” to come out and milk the cows. Each session I re-evaluate the production of our cattle. We milk three cows at all times, with a fourth cow in production raising calves hopefully in case our amount of milk decreases suddenly or a cow gets mastitis. That cow can be brought in, milk tested and then put into production while the other cow is out and dried up before she is due to calve again.
Dairy cows generally get milked for 10 months; but that may change and is totally dependent on when we get them bred; and how much milk they are producing. We replace our poorer milking cows with heifers that we have raised ourselves as over the years we have found it is NOT a good idea to purchase cows from dairies or other breeders (as a whole we have found only ONE we trust to have clean cows.) Our dairy cows cost us on average now $3,000 each; the cost includes all of the testing we do before they can go into our milk string. Our A1A2 milk cows are all being sold off as we go to exclusively milking A2A2 cows. Go here to find out more about A2 milk. The Devil in the Milk
Ideally; our cows are milked 10 months and dried off for 2 months as they prepare for their next lactation. It almost never works out that way. We rely on an AI tech to settle our cows with top A2 semen. This year he got 0 settled, so I had to buy a bull which means all the cows will be drying up about the same time. We have a very nice Hattie Ellen daughter that is A2A2; Annie that is due in April. Ethel is a Lucy daughter due in Feb. She will be sold along with another heifer because they are both A2A1, but we may need to rely on her for a month before our A2A2 cows freshen. So you can see it is a delicate matter of juggling the cows in milk (fresh cows) and the cows due to freshen and keeping heifers for 2.5 years before they can come into production.
Our subscribers are ALWAYS offered first place on the subscription list every session. Only when a family drops out or our milk production increases will our subscriptions open up to the next family on the list. We occasionally advertise for new families to let the locals know that we are here. Now we rely on word of mouth to bring in our new subscribers.
AS AVAILABLE MILK: The AA milk is just as it says, available on a first come basis when we have extra milk. Every day is just a little different, and I take half filled jars for our family. The family milkers do not leave any jars at all, so only 3 days of our paid milker do we even get AA milk. AA milk is in CFF or C- (C Bar) jars and can be purchased from the milk room on weekends; rarely is there milk available during the week. The date that the milk is poured into the jars in on the lid. You MUST mark down how many jars you take of AA milk on the equipment list on the freezer and you MUST leave a $3 deposit for every jar. Money to purchase is place in the As Available jar in the small freezer. You MUST be a farm share member and a herdshare owner to purchase milk, period. Do not ask us for an exception; it is against CA regulations for us to sell milk. You must own the cow that you are getting milk from and ONLY herdshare owners own the cows. Herdshare owners own the cows for the life of the herdshare and can purchase AA milk at any time. All herdshare owners are required to participate in a minimum of ONE workday a year as CA regulations require that you participate in the care of the cattle. These workdays are advertised in advance via email. We do not record who attends, but we do take photos and these are published. You may always opt out of having your photo taken.
Yearly meetings: Another CA reg is that Farm Share members (non profit) attend or send a rep to the Annual meeting. We have our meetings in March. you will again be notified by email and attendance is recorded.