Let’s go back to the basics, shall we? Here at Third Way Farm we rejoice in knowing that a large portion of the food we are so very blessed to eat comes from our own fields and pastures. We wanted to take that one step further by adding dairy into the mix. Recently, Colleen, Peter, and I invested in a dairy cow. Her name is Mildred and she is a beautiful light brown mini Jersey. She has the most beautiful white and black outlines around her eyes that look almost like she is wearing makeup. Her left ear is floppy, which, to me, gives the impression that she is all sweet and innocent. Don’t be fooled though! She has some tricks up her sleeve… but more on that later. She is just cute as buttons and we are so happy she is here with us!
Mildred came from Chestnut Oak Minis in Jefferson, Maryland. This operation breeds and sells mini Jersey cows. This business is a branch of a larger dairy farm with a large herd of cows whose milk is sold to Organic Valley, a dairy company you have probably seen in many grocery stores. However, this part of the business is dissolving so that the farmers can focus on their main herd. We had the choice between three cows: Mint Leaf, Amethyst, and Mildred. Mildred was our number one choice from the beginning. Not only was the farmer praising her calm demeanor, good condition (a system that numerically scores the body energy reserves of cows), and herd leadership skills, she shares a name with Peter’s grandmother. We immediately knew that Mildred was the cow for us!
So it's September 3rd and it was the day we had been anxiously waiting for, Mildred was coming!!! Now I was running the farmer’s market so I was unable to join Peter and Colleen when they went to pick up Mildred. Colleen texted me as soon as they had her in the trailer and they were on the road. I announced to my line and the market that my cow was on her way home and everybody cheered for me (thank you all for your enthusiasm about this very exciting moment for me!). Anyway, after market I unloaded the truck as quickly as I could and headed over to Peter and Colleen’s to meet Mildred. They had waited to let her out of the trailer until I got there so we could all welcome her home together. She was extremely rambunctious in the trailer, nonstop running from front to back. I got my camera all ready when Peter opened the door and she busted out. Mildred came right towards me and I quickly jumped the fence to get out of her paddock. I guess she had similar plans because seconds later she ran into the electric fence and her halter got caught. She knocked down the posts and made a run for it.
She ran through the prickly woods, the Bulle Rock golf course, and down route 40. We chased her for four miles. I had a hard time keeping up with everyone and was very far behind as I don't usually do a lot of running and my legs were getting all cut up since I was only wearing shorts. As I passed people on their back porches and golfers on the course, they all pointed in the direction Mildred went. They asked, “Are you looking for a cow? She went that way… about seven minutes ago.” “WHAT?” I thought, “seven minutes. There is no way we are ever going to get her back.” I was hopeless. How would we ever catch a cow running that fast? It was nice being a cow owner for the couple of minutes it lasted.
Finally, I reached the Bulle Rock Route 40 entrance and a man on a golf cart drove by me. He said that they caught her; they had Mildred! So I started walking briskly down the Route 40 median; there was no way I could do anymore running in that thick heat. I could see police lights in the distance. People driving by could see the commotion up ahead and I can only imagine the astonishment as passerbyers saw a cow sprinting down the road. It brought a smile to my face.
So a big thanks goes to Peter for actually catching Mildred! He was getting close to her as she ran through a patch of tall grass. It slowed her down just enough that Peter felt like he had an opportunity to dive towards her and catch her. Thankfully, he was correct! He leaped and grabbed one of her legs, but she was stubborn and kept fighting. Other people caught up and helped hold on to her. Our neighbor, Joe, brought the trailer and we finally got her loaded up. We brought her back home and put her in a barn stall. It would take a while for us to trust her to be out on pasture, but can you blame us after all that had just happened?! It was a stressful afternoon but Colleen, Peter, and I were so grateful to know that Mildred was safe and sound. We had been so excited for her arrival and thinking we had lost her after just getting her was devastating.
Let’s not forget that Mildred was pregnant during her escape attempt. We hoped that the calf inside her was not too stressed out during all that excitement. We couldn’t be sure everything was okay with baby because we do not have any technology to test those things. Anyway, our main objective is to keep Mildred and her baby safe and have them know that we love them. However, Mildred is not as calm and affectionate as her previous owner had made her out to be. It has been especially hard for me to connect with her since I am not with her as much as Peter and Colleen. I visit her on my lunch breaks sometimes, but she normally starts running all over the paddock. I am quite afraid to get close to Mildred because she is so skittish. Thankfully, Peter has gotten comfortable working with her and is working on being able to walk with her. He and I are going to spend some time with Mildred together so that I can try and bond with her. I am beyond thrilled to be one of Mildred’s parents :) I would love to be able to just sit with her in the pasture, talk to her, and pet her without her getting spooked. She is a dairy cow and that’s a major reason we brought her into our farmily, but we respect her and recognize her dignity as a creation of God. Because of that I don’t just see her as a means for all the milk I could drink. I see her as a friend and I really long for a chance to cultivate that relationship with her.
Since we got Mildred when she was pregnant, we have two animals to love and care for. About two weeks ago, we thought Mildred was starting the beginning stages of calving because it appeared that her pin ligaments dropped. This made her tail seem higher up and is a sign of labor. During this time she was also not eating a lot and was experiencing some diarrhea. So we called the vet. In order for the vet to examine her, we moved Mildred up against a wall and kept her secure with a wooden board. This was the first time we had ever seen Mildred so calm. It made me think of Temple Grandin and the squeeze machine she invented that calms cattle down before slaughter. Anyway, she had a clean bill of health but the vet thought she was not as far along in her pregnancy as we had thought. We thought she would calf at the end of September to early October. However, the vet said she was probably no more than seven months pregnant. WHAT?! We still had two months left before the calf would arrive? We were a bit taken aback but then were excited for the extra time to bond with Mildred before a calf came into the mix.
But then… the calf was born just when we had originally expected. On September 29th I got a call from Colleen just as I was finishing up my work day out in the field. I was harvesting golden raspberries and on the phone with my twin sister. I answered the phone and Colleen told me that we have a calf! I screamed at the top of my lungs in excitement (sorry Colleen). Seconds later, Peter called to share the same news as he was the one who found the calf laying on the ground when he came home from work. I got over there as soon as I could and brought Tommy and Michelle along with me. We passed Muriel on her run on our way over and she joined us. As soon as we arrived, Mildred got very scared with all the commotion. She wouldn’t go near her baby. He was shaking and was not standing up.We tried putting them in the stall together but then Mildred trampled Peter. Don’t worry! He is okay. Finally we all gave mom and baby some space to see if he would nurse and stand up.
A while later Colleen, Peter, and I went back out. Mildred seemed to be encouraging the baby to get up but he was so weak. He wasn’t nursing at all. We were finally able to get them both in the stall and we hoped and prayed that he would make it through the night and get some colostrum from Mildred’s utters. After we all took a deep breath, we could not believe we were the parents of two cattle! This is what we have been waiting for!!!
We are still trying to navigate this unknown territory. It took us a couple of days but we finally decided on a name for baby: Louie! As a two day old, Louie is not eating at all from Mama. Peter and Colleen have been working tirelessly to try and bottle feed him some of Mildred’s milk. The vet came by to check on mom and baby and said Mildred looks great but Louie is very weak and we aren’t sure how much colostrum he got. We had to tube feed him some milk because he does not have a strong suckle. It is not the best situation, but it is what it is. We pray Louie will get stronger and learn to nurse. We love him so much already and want to see him thrive.
That’s all for now. Follow Colleen on Instagram (@seecarp) for current updates on Mildred and Louie. I have to wrap it up here because I am going over to see them both now. We are going to be milking Mildred since Louie isn’t nursing. If we did not, Mildred would be in pain and susceptible to infection. Peter and Colleen have already milked her a couple of times and now it's my turn to learn! I am so so so happy and excited to be a part of this journey with dairy animals. I have been eager to learn about this and have a dairy cow of my own for a while and my dream is coming true, all thanks to Peter and Colleen!!
If you want to meet Mildred and Louie, contact us and schedule a visit. We would love to introduce you all.
Until next time,
PS: I successfully milked Mildred right after finishing this post. She gave us about 1.5 quarts of milk. She was so calm while I milked her. It gave me hope for the bond we will form! I am so excited. I also laid with Louie for a while. I love that little guy!
The Return of Robinhood
Nestled into a hidden woods on Robinhood Road, in Havre de Grace Maryland, exists a picturesque farm community; a place of green pastures, beautiful woodlands, and colorful fruits and vegetables. And in this thriving place, a place called Third Way Farm, there is also a community on a mission to build a better world through a holistic and regenerative approach to agriculture; a mission grounded in our faith and our belief in a world where all have a place at the table. Where, when we give back to the land, and to one another, all of creation thrives.
We are farming on land that was once inhabited by the indigenous peoples of the Piscataway and Susquehannock tribes. We recognize that this land was unjustly taken from them without their permission. We hope our lives upon and care for this land will honor their legacy and wisdom in living harmoniously with this place.
Third Way Farm
Barn Store Hours
601 Robinhood Road
Havre de Grace, Maryland 21078
Barn Store Hours
601 Robinhood Road
Havre de Grace, Maryland 21078