Maximum amount of milk for the minimum of moo.

In my mind I have a list of infrastructure that needs doing at Lantanaland. It's one of those pieces of paper from a loony tunes cartoon that when unrolled, the bottom runs across the floor and out the door. Fencing, gates, cow sheds, garden beds, fix the deck and the floor downstairs, attempt to make the kitchen bigger than a galley from the first fleet, fruit trees, a cheese production room in the laundry, a cellar, a workshed/lair, the list goes on. In my wallet however is a very tiny piece of paper titled, available funds which usually makes me sigh and put it away again.

Take the cows. Some dear mates helped me carve out a paddock last June and a small one in September. Ideally, with enough funds, I would have cut another paddock further down for when those ones had been eaten halfway out. Instead I stretch and wait and use the free fruit and bread I get to supplement their diet. They are healthy, but not fat and it probably means I get less milk.

Recently my lead cow was a bit sick, probably with what the vet called "three day" a mosquito borne virus. When I was walking down the hill to her to give her a bit of food and water in the shade she was hiding in, I realized that while there was some grass still there, it was not enough. I'd extracted about as much as I could. So the trusty brush cutter was dusted off and I strode off down the hill to cut fence lines, slashing and gouging like I was in some Z grade American horror movie.



I did get a pleasant surprise when I finally, after two days work, I tunneled my way down to the dam. It was very full and had much more water and plant life in it than it had when I'd last seen it, two years ago. The following weekend I opened my wallet and purchased about enough gear for 500m of electric fencing, just over $150. This was not enough to completely enclose the paddock, but it turned the cows inwards, stopping them from getting out and onto the tracks that lead back up past the house.


Now if we had money, I would be putting a star picket every five meters, instead of stringing it out as far as I could, using the plastic posts to hold up the wires in between. Hell if I had money I just would have got a bobcat in and terraced the whole hill and regrassed it.


The point is that if we were flush with money we wouldn't have bought Lantanaland. As well as the lack of infrastructure the house is run down, the soil is crap and there is no established fruit trees. That though, is half the fun. It means that I can redo the kitchen in a skeleton of stainless steel and old timber. It means that as the cows roll back the eight foot high grass and smash tunnels into the lantana I get a better feel for the shape of the land, so that when I do get the heavy machinery in I'll be able to direct it, know where I need terracing and paths.

The reward at least this time was immediate. Milk production has more than doubled and I've made large amounts of creamy feta, a soft blue mould, white mould cheese and this morning as I type this I am waiting on curd to set for a soft washed rind. All of which will hopefully lead to me paying back my initial herd sharers so that the cows can start earning some management fees. Maybe then I can be a bit more proactive with my cow infrastructure, more milk, less moo!



- Lantanaland from my iPad

Location:Lantanaland