Saying Goodbye to Our Milk Cow

I have argued with myself for weeks about writing this post. I was going to just ignore the fact that my milk cow, Molly, is no longer here on the farm, but I want to remember how this feels, and I want the memories of how it happened. So here is the story of our cow Molly.

saying goodbye to our milk cow. Molly with her calf cinnamon out in the pasture.
Molly with her calf Cinnamon

A Little Backstory

We bought Molly and Grace in 2019 from a local farm that was downsizing his herd. They were being raised for beef and were not trained to milk and had not been handled by humans. Both cows were bred and due to calf soon.

My husband had worked on several dairy farms growing up, so he had some knowledge on cows, but I had zero experience. To tell you the truth, I was very intimidated by their size and did not know how to interact with an animal this big.

We both knew this was going to be interesting to say the least because we had to train these cows to milk. Through trial and error, Grace did not make a good milk cow. She was head strong, mean, and did not want anything to do with us touching her let alone milking her. She also was defensive with her calf and would not let us near her calf. We ended up sending her to the processor before anyone could get seriously hurt.

Saying Goodbye to our milk cow. Molly standing in the barnyard
Molly

Training

Within a few weeks of working with her, Molly allowed us to brush her, pet her, and touch her utter! My husband said, “This cow is going to be our milk cow” and he was right!

Turns out Molly was more than happy to go into the stanchion and let us milk her as long as she had alfalfa to eat. At first the milking sessions were pretty rough because I was slow, and she was impatient. Not once while Molly was here did, she ever kick us. She was a very gentle cow which makes me love her even more.

Molly allowing her calf Brownie to nurse
Molly with her calf Brownie

While Molly lived on our farm, she birthed Cinnamon (heifer), Buddy, Brownie, and Rudy. Molly birthed every calf unassisted, and each calf was healthy (which is why I choose Dexters). Not only did she provide milk for our family, but she also provided meat for our freezers, and manure for our garden. It is said that a cow is the Queen of the Farm, and I am a firm believer that this statement is very true. No other animal gives back so much as a cow.

The Beginning of the End

In 2023 I noticed that Molly was limping and could not put her full weight on her right back hoof. We called the vet, and he came out to inspect her hoof. It turns out Molly had an abscess. The vet doctored her up and said in seven days to take the bandages off and Molly should be good to go.

After the seven days she was still limping. We decided to spend the money on getting a mobile hoof technician to come to our house to take a look at Molly’s hooves. The tech did a thorough check on Molly’s hooves and could not find any problems.

We talked with the technician about Molly’s age and why she would be limping if there were no obvious signs of infection.

from left to right. Buddy, Molly, and Brownie

I began researching and trying to find a way that I could make it all better and I could keep my cow. But…that is not how the story goes.

Molly had arthritis in her right back hip which caused her to limp. The only remedy for this would be to give her medications which was not going to heal her but basically mask the symptoms for a while. I came to the conclusion that the most humane thing to do for Molly was to cull her.

Unfortunately, we had to wait several months because at this time Molly was pregnant, so we had to wait until she had the calf.

The Hardest Part

Two weeks ago, as we loaded up Molly and the steer, Brownie, to go to the processors my husband put the rope halter on Molly and quietly said, “It’s ok girl, thank you… You’ve been such a good cow for us.”

I agree! Thank you, Molly, for teaching me to face my fears and conquer them. For teaching me patience, hard work, and perseverance. I learned so many skills just because you became part of my life. I’ll never forget how much you loved food and how your eyes lit up at the smell of hay fresh off the wagon. Thank you for behaving in the stanchion better for me than for James and for all the times you let me pet you when no one was looking.

My farm feels empty. I miss my morning meetings with my cow. My favorite part of the day was going out to the barn and milking. I miss the milk! Friends, store bought milk is not good. It is very watered down compared to the milk straight from the cow. We were very spoiled to say the least.

Molly

Where do We Go from Here?

Yes, we are searching for a milk cow to bring to the farm and are hoping to find one this year. This time we are taking our time and trying to be wise in our decisions. In other words, I am in no rush because I want the best cow for our family.

Other Post You May Enjoy:

Why We Choose to Homestead

Living a Simple Life

When Everything Goes Wrong on the Homestead

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