10 Reasons Why Your Milk Cow Might be Kicking

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I’m sooooo excited to be welcome Kate from Venison for Dinner as a guest poster today! Like many of you, she’s had plenty of experiences with milk cows that like to kick, and is sharing her wisdom on that topic today!

Our first cow was a saint…

…She rarely kicked, just stood there and had a terrific udder. It was a sad day when we had to butcher her, and with our next cow, before I knew it, I was googling “How to stop your cow from kicking”. Wilderness is a spit-fire! While never mean, she’s slowly working on her patience, and seeing as she’s only halfway through her second lactation, I’m happy with the progress she’s made.

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There are a few types of kicks that a cow has, and let me clarify that if your cow is a mean kicker, in that she tries to kick YOU, not the bucket, then take extra precaution. We’ve never had one, thank goodness! Mostly cows will try to kick the bucket, or they will ‘tap dance’, which is when they’re impatient, shifting their feet, trying to move around and you keep having to shift the bucket.

We learned through the school of hard knocks, and I’m hoping that some of our bumps, bruises and tears can be a learning tool for you to avoid such things!

WHY Your Milk Cow might be Kicking

1. It’s her first lactation.

I put this first and foremost as it’s really important. It would be a whole other post to describe how to train a cow, but if you’re a newbee, trying to train a cow to be milked, I’d suggest finding someone who can help you.

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(Cleaning her up before milking…mucky spring day takes lots of time!)

2. She’s new in a lactation.[Continue Reading]

Owning a Family Milk Cow: Your Questions Answered!


family milk cowI’ll admit it… I’m totally prejudiced.

Try as I might to get all excited over green beans and squash, I’d much rather talk about milk cows and home dairying. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the gardening aspect of my homestead, but animal husbandry is just more of my thing I suppose… And did I mention that I have a pretty severe brown thumb? Yeah… that might have something to do with it.

I firmly believe the family milk cow is going to be the next status symbol. ;) And heck, if you don’t have room for a cow, there’s no shame in a dairy goat (or sheep) instead.

Regardless of what species you choose, home dairying has got to be one of the most satisfying aspects of homesteading–even if you aren’t as prejudiced as I am.

However, since it’s been several generations since the family milk cow was commonplace, most folks have a bunch of questions on the topic. And that’s not surprising, since most of us (including myself) grew up with the white stuff from the store.

I’ve decided to collect all of my most-common reader questions related to milk cows and home dairying in one big ol’ post. Hopefully this will answer any questions you might have on the topic, and prepare you for a dairy animal of your own in the near future.

Common Questions About Family Milk Cows

Should I get a cow or a goat?

This is a hotly debated topic, and honestly? I think it very much depends on the person and the homestead. My Cow vs. Goat post will help you to weigh out the pros and cons of each home dairy animal.

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How much land do I need for a milk cow?

It depends on where you live and what type of pasture you have available.… [Continue Reading]

How and Why to Start Your Hydroponic Garden

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Today I am thrilled to have Chris Wimmer of Captain Hydroponics guest posting for me today! Chris is a urban homesteader who uses hydroponics to make the best use out of his small spaces. I think you’ll enjoy learning from his post as much as I have!

Chicago HomesteadThis is my homestead and it provides me exactly 440 square feet of outdoor space. I truly feel blessed to have that much space as I live in downtown Chicago. However, it’s also a major downsizing from my childhood where I worked on a farm and lived on a couple acres of land.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve started using hydroponic growing techniques with some really good results.

Now before I get ahead of myself let me now explain just what is hydroponics. Hydroponics in Latin literally means “working water”. The reason the water is called working is because hydroponics does not use soil to feed the plants but rather a nutrient rich solution which is continuously flowing to the plant roots. Many different types of systems have been developed but the one commonality is growing without soil.

So why use hydroponics and what are the benefits of using hydroponics over a traditional garden?

  • Increased crop yield
  • Faster growing cycles
  • Can be done indoors
  • Surprisingly cheap
  • Reduced labor
  • Environmentally sound

For me, there are 2 main reasons I use hydroponics for my homestead. First, I can raise bigger crops faster which is critical with limited space. Second, I can extend the short growing season in Chicago by setting up a winter garden in my spare bathtub.

So where should you start?

This can be one of the biggest challenges of trying anything new so I’m going to quickly walk you through how to get started with a simple hydroponic system. This system is simple yet effective at growing crops.… [Continue Reading]

Are Chickens Supposed to be Vegetarians?


Are Chickens Supposed to be Vegetarian

The labels always seem so proud…

You know, the ones that boldly declare that the eggs sitting cozily inside their carton are from chickens fed an “all-natural vegetarian” diet.

At first glance, that sounds pretty good, right? I mean, it’s always good to pay attention to labels–especially with all the “iffy” stuff that takes place in food production these days.

But when I stroll down the egg aisle at my local health food store, those particular labels always make me shake my head…

‘Cause if you’ve ever watched a chicken scratch and peck around your yard, then you know that chickens are most definitely NOT vegetarians by nature…

A free-range chicken generally makes a sport of out hunting down and happily devouring any sort of moving object it can find–including moths, grasshoppers, grubs, larvae, worms, and even the occasional mouse or frog. It’s a great way to pass time and an important source of protein for their diet.

I have a special admiration for people such as Harvey Ussery, who raise insects as protein sources for their flock. I read about his method of raising soldier grubs for his flock’s main protein source in his book, The Small Scale Poultry Flock.(affiliate link). I’m still not sure if I have a strong enough stomach to do it myself, but I do think it’s an awesome idea. ;)

So if chickens are most assuredly omnivores by nature, when did all this buzz over “vegetarian chickens” start?

The Story Behind the Label

It all began when folks became aware that many animals raised in commercial operations were being fed processed feeds containing animal-byproducts as a source of protein.

Now at first glance, that doesn’t sound too bad. But when you understand just what those animal by-products are, that’s when things get gross.

The “animal by-products” that pop up in ingredient lists in various animal feeds can include blood, same-species meat, feathers, rendered road kill, and euthanized dogs and cats (1).… [Continue Reading]