Welcome to Painted Hand Farm

Painted Hand Farm is a 20 acre Civil War era farm located in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania. We raise meat goats, veal calves, turkeys and organic vegetables using humane and sustainable agricultural practices.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007


It's been 52 days since Emma calved. That's 104 milkings by hand and let me tell you, it takes a while to build up the stamina to milk the whole way through without resting. Granted, cows don't come on milking like gangbusters right out of the chute and my cow only has two working teats, but as of yesterday, her daily average output has been at 25 pounds a day...that's a cup over three gallons-- one and three-quarters in the morning and one and a half in the afternoon.

Our hands are amazing pieces of engineering , requiring numerous joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles to functions. From the tips of my fingers to where the subscapularis attaches to the bone, I have become distinctly aware of each and every moving part.

I've longed for nothing more than to walk out to the parlor, flip on the vacuum pump and attach a vintage surge milker to my cow, get clean beautiful full-fat Jersey milk from which cultured butter will be hand-crafted. From there, it's anybody's guess...melted down over bread fresh from the oven, holidays cookies, pound cake, on potatoes...the possibilities are endless...but I'm getting ahead of myself.
A number of events have unfolded over the last two months that have been most discouraging at times, but we reached a new milestone at Friday's evening milking which offered a new sense of accomplishment. After a complete restoration of the vacuum pump and the surge milker's pulsator unit as well as several deliveries from Haby's Dairy Supply, we hooked everything up and it worked. It was the first milking in 52 days that I didn't get stepped on, kicked, crapped on, peed on or a combination of all of the above.
With a closed milking system, we can now use the milk for our own consumption as there is no cow hair, hay or manure that ends up in the bucket either from the regular hand-milking action or when Emma scores a point in the put-the-foot-in-the-bucket game (which we quickly squelched with a handy figure-eight pair of hobbles I still had from my back-country packing days).
Emma's calf, we call her Gray, has a few weeks to go until weaning so she takes a gallon a day. Until now, we've been giving the rest to our fat, dumb & happy bull calves, but with the advent of the fully-functional milking system, they've been cut back to a rich skimmed milk because I'm taking what's above the creamline from now on.

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