It's so hard to go back to the grocery store to buy what you once made yourself....especially with an animal product,
The taste is better... You know it's fresh and the animal was treated well... You know it's chemical and antibiotic free..
Because seriously , believe the labels???
Luckily raising your own meat isn't to hard if you have the right facilities , land, commitment to learn about the animal and the right kind of animal to match your expectations.
Luckily raising our own eggs is easy and I adore poultry and waterfowl ....
Totally different story!
The quest for farmstead milk from an animal that can live here without drama!
And without sucking all my time away!
A dairy animal , especially a high production dairy animal, is more than a commitment .. It's more like total devotion! Take anything that can go wrong with a meat animal and double it..
High production = lots of milk = lots of time sucking problems.
It has been a very long , tiring journey my friends!
And yes, I have limitations! I can not have 1 group of animals take time from my other much needed farm chores and goals.
If you've read my blog you know I've had so many breeds of dairy goats and tried so many different ways to make them work ... I just can't deal with them, their extensive health issues and their neediness!
You know I've tried dairy sheep which I loved so much better!!! But the wool is a pain to deal with, even as a spinner it's a pain to raise fiber animals for me because of our cedar trees , brambles and the humidity that can felt the wool right on the animal! And shearing is such a tiresome job! A good shearer is almost impossible to find...on top of I just do not have sheep land for a high maintenance wool breed sheep. Most wool sheep breeds are just as delicate as goats when it comes to parasites... A big problem I do not want to deal with!
And yes I tried katathins! The premier miracle hair sheep breed.. And I couldn't stand them! That's been several years ago ...
I do hear they have come along way... But the first 2 I had scarred me! I know many many people who milk them and rave about the milk. But I couldn't get near mine ! They were crazy and feral!
Hair sheep meat is lean and that breed honestly tasted more like goat without the flavor. It was good.. Just not what I expected from lamb. Which I understand is the way most hair sheep meat tastes.
Since I'm sensitive to milk products with casin and really shouldn't pig out on them.. (Which is what I did with my lovely gallon a day dairy sheep) I really shouldn't have a high production bred dairy sheep anyways..,
Seriously , It was all SO good!!!! Sheep cheese had to be one of the best things I've made!
So now what??
Dairy goats , dairy sheep..,
And yeah, if you've followed my blog you know I now milk donkeys!!
My *dairy* donkeys work beautifully here on our land,, also fill the need for a poultry guardian and do not suck my time away ... But...,
I can't make much with donkey milk in the way of dairy products because it lacks casin.
It takes a long, long year for a Jenny to have a foal.. Then another six weeks before you can milk... And then you can milk for around 6 to 7 months.. The amount you get can vary greatly from animal to animal because they haven't been bred for milking purposes.
We more or less treat it like a medicine really ... It's worth the wait and the trouble if you have health problems!
It obviously can't take the place of the farmstead dairy products I want to have but ..,
It's incredibly healing!!!
And has worked wonders with my digestive problems!!
After drinking donkey milk for almost four months now I can eat goat and sheep milk products again without pain!!!
If we eat out somewhere off the farm and I get sick , just 1/2 cup of donkey milk and my nausia goes away!
It's amazing!!! And so refreshing to drink!
But ,,, so now I can have cheese again..
After pretty much avoiding it for a year except in very small amounts.
And I still shouldn't pig out on it!
I have missed it so much..
After talking, talking and more talking we decided maybe try a cow.. A rugged small zebu cow!! They are about the size of my smallest donkey, can handle tough pastures , provide A2/A2 milk and a much needed lean red meat source!
They do well in southeast heat and don't have the parasite issues of goats and wool sheep... It would be perfect!!!!!!
But I am so not ready for a cow...
Zebu heifers are expensive... Just not quite ready for that commitment to a cow. Next year if we have another barn built and a handle on how many donkeys I'll be keeping regular then we'll be ready!
But for now... It's St.Croix hair sheep..,
Lean red meat, and yes some people do milk them! And I will try! It won't be like my well bred dairy sheep with their huge capacity and nice soft udders.. But like I said.. I shouldn't pig out on cheese anyways 🙄
They Handle rough pastures and heat.. They Don't even need a shelter!!
Though mine will have one.
Low maintenance sheep if I've ever heard of one... They are supposed to do well eating browse and weeds and I have a plan to keep them from destroying pastures in the fall with they start to up root the grasses.
Now I typically do not believe 'breed hype' but I personally talked to several people that have been raising them for more than 3 years. And I like what I heard... So here we go...
Hair Sheep.... Round 2....
Where oh where will this subsistence farm take us next!
It's a wild ride!