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Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Transitioning to Spring On a Micro-Dairy, Part 2

I look at the calendar and it says spring, but outside my window at my Micro-Dairy the temperatures are creeping up above freezing and some of the snow refuses to melt. However, spring will arrive even if not quite on schedule, so I’m prepping for the inevitable. Here are a few more tips and steps that will become routine as you prepare your Micro-Dairy for spring.

Springtime Brings New Opportunities and New Challenges

Now that spring is on the doorstep I will begin to think about buying another mature cow or two. I am very fortunate that there are several high quality Jersey herds in this part of Vermont so I generally have several cows to choose from. However I have learned to never buy a cow until I have her milk tested for "staff " mastitis. I also have the cows tested for Leucosis (BLV) and Johnes. I think everyone should test their cows for those two diseases, especially if you are going to drink or sell their milk raw. They are both contagious and can be fatal for an infected cow. Plus there is growing concern that the milk that comes infected cows can also infect people. The screening tests can either be done with blood or milk and aren't expensive.

A Micro-Dairy’s List of Chores Can Be Simple

Once the temperature at night stays above freezing I will be able to set up my pasture water lines and put out the water tubs so the cows won't have to walk back to the barn to get a drink of water. Unfortunately every spring I usually find a few leaks in my water lines caused by water freezing that wouldn't drain out the line the previous fall. Those must be patched.  Because I run my black plastic water lines on top of the ground and never bury them it, they are easy to repair or move.

And of course I have fences to mend. Most of my pastures are wooded. Since I only use poly-wire and fiberglass posts for fencing, a falling branch or a running deer can raise havoc with my fences especially those that run around my more remote pastures.  But the fix is generally fairly easy. Poly-wire can be tied like string and, compared to wire, is relatively inexpensive.

High on my to-do list is clean out my run-in shed and prepare it for my cow to calve next month. I'll make sure to have a thick bed of pine shaving for her. I'd clean the shed now but it is just barely thawing. It has been an extremely cold winter but because I have a Micro-Dairy my spring to-do list is short and all fairly simple. If I have time I'll thin my wooded pastures for firewood before or just as the trees begin to leaf out. But that chore is a whole other story for another time.

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