We're Expecting! Calves that is! That's right - Buttercup and Emme are both pregnant! Buttercup is due May 16, 2012 -less than 2 weeks away! She is sooo big - I almost feel sorry for her. She was bred to a neighbor's Angus bull. Buttercup is 3/4 Jersey and 1/4 Holstein and this will be her third calf with us. When she freshens (her milk comes in after calving) it will be at 8 gallons a day. That makes for a lot of milk for cheesemaking and drinking! Emme was confirmed pregnant by our local vet and is due the second week in September. Hardly any difference can be seen with her at this point. She is full Jersey and should make a wonderful family milk cow - this is her first calf. When we moved to our basement, we set up a temporary milking parlor. It was not too long before Buttercup was dried off and we had no need for a milking parlor. Drying off a cow is is done to allow a rest period in preparation for calving - you stop milking her. This five month break from milking has been good for everyone. But, now we are all excited at the prospect of fresh milk once again. Our budget will also be glad to have the fresh dairy products again. It is amazing how much I save making our cheese, kefir, butter and still have left over fresh milk to drink! Having the cows on our own pasture also saves the expense of hay which makes our dairy products even less expensive! Now that Buttercup's time for calving is so close, John and the boy's are working on building a new milking parlor - we actually call it the cow palace. Taking a break from vineyard work, this week's priority is to get the cow palace finished! So far, the cow palace is framed up. As you can see below, on the left side (where people are standing) is the milking stall for the cow to stand when being milked. The right side provides storage for pallets of feed. There will be two doors - one for us to enter the cow palace and the other for the cow to enter her milking stall. This will prevent either cow from having access to the feed storage area. The floor will be concrete and the sides will be metal. Even Buttercup and Emme are interested in the work going on - they seem to know that it has something to do with them! Emme especially keeps coming by to check out the progress. She appears to be trying to figure out what in world it is! More pictures as the work progresses!