What do old, going-to-be-married homesteaders buy each other for their wedding? Diamonds, jewels, a tractor? No. Will and I bought a milk cow. Last year we went to Carol and Abner Miller’s farm down in Staples, MN to buy a couple of Boer goats from their nice herd. We also saw their herd of Jersey and Milking Shorthorn cows in the cleanest, nicest dairy barn I’ve ever seen. I tried to talk Abner out of a heifer calf or a cull cow. No dice. He was building up his herd and needed every one. But we spoke for a few more goats for the spring of this year and when I talked to Carol, she mentioned that Abner had a couple of cows he might sell. It didn’t take long to finalize the deal on our new cow, Lace. She’s a big girl with a nice udder and is bred to freshen this month. We chose a Milking Shorthorn, even though we love Jerseys, because shorthorns handle our very cold climate and homestead conditions better than the thinner-skinned Jerseys. And the bull calves make excellent beef, too.

We don’t have a dairy barn or much of a way to handle a cow yet. So I hoped she’d be gentle. Turns out she is not only very gentle, but is also broke to lead, which surprised Abner too, as he’d never tried. His cows just come into their stalls, are tied, milked, then turned out. She even hopped right into our trailer with absolutely no fuss at all!

Of course, we also got our goats, too. One is a registered Boer buckling from Collateral Damage breeding. We also got a purebred Nubian buckling that is black and white spotted and a Boer/Nubain spotted brown and white buckling out of the hugest doe I’d ever seen. Carol “threw in” his sister, who was born with weak front legs. One straightened out and the other has a contracted tendon. We have it splinted to keep it as straight as possible and are doing range of motion exercises on that leg to try to stretch out the tendons and free up the knee joint. I sure hope it works. I fall in love with my animals and sure hate to have one having trouble of any kind.

Oh, just a note: I’m told that copies of my new book full of recipes for your pantry and homegrown foods are being shipped to the MREA fair in Custer, Wisconsin (www.midwestrenew.org/energyfair), where Will and I will be spending our honeymoon manning the Backwoods Home booth. So anyone who wants to pick up one of the very first copies (and autographed too) can stop by and see us there. Of course, we’ll also have Growing and Canning Your Own Food and tons of other books, anthologies, and issues of the magazine at a very good price. If you already have the canning book, bring it along and I’ll autograph it for you right on the spot. — Jackie


  1. Hey, The milk cow sounds like a very sensible wedding present to me, but of course I’m 88 years old, so what do I know! and the pig and the cat! WOW! Read your blog all the time, have your “growing and canning your own food” given to me for Mothers Day, love it, congrats, on your marriage, your cow, your pig , your cat, and all the other good things, I still can everything I can get my hands on, tried your carrot relish recipe was a great hit, with my bunch, have a container garden, live in city limits, but my children always have a surplus of produce, so I put in jars! May the Lords richest blessings be with you

  2. Congratulations to you and Will on your wedding, and David for graduating high school. Two major milestones in such a short period of time! I am happy for you!

  3. I’m posting this on your big day. May you and Will have many, many happy and healthy years together. Lace is so TALL. Wow! She will soon see she has landed in the best of places : ).

  4. Best wishes and happiness to you both! Your cow is beautiful and looks like she has a gorgeous udder.

  5. Congrats to you all! We have raised registered Boers and Nubians for many years, but would love a milk cow…however my oldest has always been dairy allergic, hence the goats…..can’t have beef, either. So as soon as he moves out we will get a cow for us. (he is 19)
    The breeder’s barns are indeed the cleanest I’ve seen and i need a new buck this year! I might have to visit with a livestock trailer….. ; )

  6. Jackie, I laughed and got a warm heart over your “Cow”. You are so inspirational to us all. You obviously are very happy! May your life together with Will always be filled with joy.
    God Bless.

  7. Jackie and Will: Best wishes for continued happiness as you begin your marriage — and have fun at the fair!

    If we lived closer, we’d certainly love to meet you (and get your books) at the fair. When you visit further east, we’ll be there.

    Vicky & John

  8. Congratulations on the new additions to your growing family and your upcoming in a couple of days wedding. I would come to Wisconsin to the show to see your booth but its too far with the gas prices as I live in Michigan. When I was 10 years old my dad bought me a guernsey calf for my 4-H project. I had her until I was 18 and went away to college and showed her all those years. When she had her first calf it turned out to be calves – yes she had twins. I loved her = she was such a nice gentle cow except the one time she stepped on my foot – it was an accident.

  9. Congrats on all the new additions to the family, they’re some good lookin critters!…..I was thinking now that you had more room you’d probably buy more animals to fill it up, and I guess I was right LOL……

  10. Hi Jackie! Congrats on your wedding and new graduate and new dairy cow! Your Lace is sure a beauty. We have both a Jersey and a JerseyXShorthorn. I always thought I’d want a purebred jersey…but our cross gives just as much cream, more milk, the milk is fuller bodied and more satisfying, seems to make nicer Mozzerella cheese AND she’s a much easier keeper on the same ration that we give the Jersey.
    Thanks for sharing you stories with all of us in both the magazine and on the web. You are the first thing I read.
    Mary Ann

  11. How exciting…I love my milk cow Mona (she is a Jersey) and have had her for 5 years now. Your new cow has a very calm face!
    Congratulations on your wedding and I sure wish I were close enough to come see you at the MREA fair…maybe someday you will come closer to here. (central Utah)
    I love the canning book…best canning book I have ever owned and I have alot of them. I have been canning alot since I was first married at 17. I am now 52 and still have 4 teenagers at home (of my 7 kids) who keep me canning mostly in quarts. I can’t imagine NOT canning and plan to keep it up forever. You are sure an inspiration to me. I wish we were neighbors!!!

  12. WOW! Beautiful cow! I have three 5 year old Jerseys and just got exposed to milking shorthorns through some crossbred bottle calves we bought this year– they outgrow everything else we have.
    Congratulations on your wedding (and your cow!) Blessings, ke

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