There is a very specific feeling you get at the end of a long day, when you are close to the bed you desperately want to be in, and you glance out the window to look at the sunset and see instead eight half-grown heifers high-tailing it down the driveway, washed in the soft orange light. The mind rebels – it just can’t be – and then is quickly resigned. Back into the pants you’ve just stripped off, jump into the boots, call the dog, and hurry to head them off. These Jersey calves were born in fall and so had not yet grazed, and their first nips of sweet green grass were novel, intoxicating. They galloped south, then north, then scattered, some west, some east, before allowing themselves to be bunched up and lured back to the barn they had come from; they had knocked a hay feeder into the electric fence and thereby won their freedom. Let’s hope they aren’t smart enough to do it again.
The dairy herd has been on pasture for a week now, grazing a strip of fall-sown rye and a piece of clover-rich pasture in Superjoy. The cows head out of the barn after milking at a fast trot, teats swinging, eager to get back to the work of eating. When they come in, their udders are tight with milk. Production has jumped, and the quality of the milk has changed, too. It is foamy when I put it through the filter; the butterfat is softer, and butter from this cream will be bright yellow. The cows themselves smell different now, their breath and their skin both earthy and green. It is such a pleasure to milk clean, happy cows, and a pleasure, too, to go to the field with them, lie down for a minute and listen to them graze, that rip rip sound that is the source of their contentment…” Continue reading this Essex Farm Note.