A Day with "Elsie"
Growing up, all I knew about dairy farming was that the Borden’s milkman delivered our milk in glass bottles to the back door every few days. This milk came from Elsie the cow. One might say I was rather uninformed. I had no idea how complicated dairy farming can be!
The first thing that hit us upon arriving at the Murillo farm was the beautiful setting and the “natural scent” of livestock.
Franz has been thinking about having dairy cows on the Finca along with the bulls. To learn more about what is involved, we visited the farm of Gonzalo Murillo and his wife Sharron. Both are Franz’s attorneys, but also have a dairy farm not far from here.
They have about 80 adult cows, 40 of whom they are milking at the moment. There are also baby calves, (female only, the male babies are sold at birth) and of course, a very large Torro (with a ring in his nose) to keep the girls happy and pregnant!
The cows are milked twice a day, in the early morning and afternoon. This is done by machine. The milk goes directly from the cows through a line to the cheese-making room, where it empties into a stainless steel tank. Each cow produces on average,15 liters a day. After the cows are milked, the cheese is made. Rennet is added to the milk to separate the curd and whey. The curd is then packed into cheese molds to drain. This fresh cheese is refrigerated, then sold at the market.
It turns out that dairy farming is not as simple as it may seem. It’s a 24/7 job that is as much about breeding as cheese making. After a detailed discussion with Gonzalo about the nitty-gritty of dairy farming, Franz decided this might not be the best project for the Finca right now.
For me, it was an experience I won't soon forget... especially when I'm enjoying a nice cold glass of milk with my cookies!!