I Think About Infrastructure (and cows) More Than Can Do Campell

In an ideal world, Lantanaland would have been an old dairy farm, complete with iron hard wooden bales and yards, several citrus trees and a chookhouse. In fact one of the places we were really interested in when we looking for a place ticked most of the boxes. Small orchard, chookhouse, yards and sheds and a dam. The problem was it was a 100 grand more than Lantanaland and had a liveable shed instead of a house. The shed was in fact better than the house here, completely converted into a house with 3 bedrooms but there was a risk that council could rock up the day after purchase and insist we build a house. Too risky.

I mention all this because of my adventures this morning. My bales are strung together from some fencing panels from my stepbrothers old fence, old stumps from a veranda my neighbour knocked down and various scraps of second hand timber. The idea for a smallholder milking is to separate the calf off at night so the milk builds up and milk in the morning

Last night I coaxed the calf into the yards and locked her up. Candy was in the next paddock about three meters away so she could see her calf. Cows get sooky when separated and more and more vocal as their udders fill up. It's good if they can see the calf but not get too close as a calf will stick its head through the smallest hole to get a feed. All good so far. In the morning Candy should run down to the bales to see the calf, I let her have a quick suck to let the milk down and then get my morning milk.

When I woke at 4am Candy was bellowing. Loudly. That was good as it meant her and the calf were still separated. Success! I got dressed and got Candy's morning bucket and went down. The calf wasn't in the bales. Dammit. She was up on the hill, out of Candy's sight. No wonder she was bellowing. No worries though, I'll just open the bales and lead Candy in with some food and the calf will come to her.

As soon as I opened the gate to the paddock Candy charged off up towards the cries of the calf. Within seconds she was gobbling down my milk for the next few days. It really is a failure of poor infrastructure. If I had the disposable cash, I'd just go and buy 8 proper steel cattle panels and a head bale and build some proper yards. But I don't , so I'll be pulling out some spare fence panels I had on the old chook pen and raising the height of the yards, building a new gate and I'll lock Candy up at night. The calf can roam around and see mum and in the morning I'll milk Candy then let the calf back on.

That's the plan anyway. Lack of cash definitely breeds innovation and tickles my love of recycling and the second hand. I like the satisfaction of getting something done without just throwing cash at it, but to be honest, if I'd gone down at 4am and seen a calf locked up in proper yards, I probably would have coped.