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One of the first things you will need to consider when you add a dairy cow to your farm is whether you will milk by hand or with a milking machine. It’s a good idea to spend a little time considering the pros and cons of each option so that you can make an informed decision. Your lifestyle, budget, and your cow (or cows) will all have a big influence on which option you choose.

There’s no doubt about it, raw milk is delicious and extremely useful on the self-sufficient homestead, especially if you want to make your own cheese, yogurt, and butter. Whether you decide to milk by hand or with a machine, your family can benefit greatly by having access to raw, farm fresh milk. Here are some key facts about each milking method to help you decide what option is better for you.

Pros and Cons of Milking with a Machine

Using a machine to milk your cow, or cows, makes the most sense for someone who wants to simplify milking and make it fast and easy. Your cow can be taught to go in her stanchion, then you’ll wash her teats, hook up your milking machine, and in less than ten minutes, your cow will be milked. You can even complete some other small chores nearby while the machine does its job.

A milking machine can make your life so much easier if you have a cow with small teats. It can also be a lifesaver if you have a nervous or difficult cow that doesn’t like to be milked. Another benefit is that the milk stays considerably cleaner than it does when you milk by hand into a bucket.

That’s not to say that a milking machine is the perfect solution for any farm; there are definitely some disadvantages. The most notable is that a milking machine can cost you as much as $500 or more. If you’re an average homesteader on a limited budget with only one or two cows to milk, that’s a pretty hefty investment.

Another disadvantage is that, although the milking process itself can be accomplished very quickly with a machine, you’ll need to spend more time cleaning up afterwards. Your machine will need to be disassembled so that all of the parts can be cleaned and sanitized, and then left to air dry. If you are doing your milking twice a day, you will be spending a lot of time on clean up.

Additionally, you should consider the setup of your milking area. Do you have easy access to electricity where you do you milking? Running electricity to your barn could be a huge task. And, you might also want to consider the noise factor. Some milking machines are quite loud. Consider if there will bother you or the other animals in your barn.-

Pros and Cons of Milking by Hand

Milking by hand is the way it’s been done for centuries. For some homesteaders and farmers, doing things the way it’s always been done is part of the experience. To get started with hand milking, all you really need is a cow and a stainless-steel bucket. It couldn’t be much more economical than that!

The process of hand milking can be an enjoyable one, too. Many people love the peaceful pleasure of doing the milking every day. Not only that, over time you establish a solid and loving bond with your cow, which is a sweet reward on its own. And, you really don’t need to have a special setup for hand milking. Anywhere that you can keep clean and comfortable for you and your cow will work just fine.

However, just like anything else, there are some disadvantages to doing all of your milking by hand. For one thing, getting started can be tough on your hands until you build up the right muscles. If you have arthritis in your hands, hand milking could be very uncomfortable for you. When you hand milk, you will need to take extra care to make sure dirt, dust, and insects don’t end up in your milk.

Hand milking definitely takes more time than machine milking, too. Especially if your cow isn’t cooperative. Some cows can be a real pain for milking and from kicking at you to kicking at your milk pail, they’ll try almost anything to get you to leave them alone. Not to mention, one wrong move, and ruined your delicious milk by putting their manure covered foot right in your milk bucket.

The Takeaway

Don’t forget to consider the personality of your cow when you decide, too. Some cows will make it clear that they prefer one method over the other. Some cows may not tolerate the machine, while others may hate having you work with their udder. A little experimentation might be required to figure out what makes your cow the most comfortable.

Before you decide which way to go, consider all the factors that come into play. Maybe you need to streamline your chores as much as you can, so you can get to work. Or, perhaps you plan on selling some of your milk, so it needs to be kept as clean and sterile as possible. In these cases, a milking machine might make the most sense.

On the other hand, maybe the experience of milking by hand is enjoyable to you. Perhaps you look forward to that peaceful time of day with your favorite cow. Or, maybe there really isn’t a good place to set up a stanchion with electrical access. And of course, consider your budget! There’s a tremendous difference in startup costs between these two options.

As with anything else around the farm or homestead, there really is no one size fits all answer to this the question of whether you should use a machine or milk by hand. Spend some time thinking it over and make the best decision for you, your cow, and your farm. And remember, you can always change your mind and try the other method if your first choice doesn’t work out after you’ve given it a fair try!

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Have You Ever Been To Florida’s Exciting Space Coast?

When people think of Florida tourism, they usually think about Orlando theme parks, the Florida Keys, Miami’s club scene, or airboat rides through the alligator and mosquito-infested Everglades. But less than an hour east of Orlando you’ll find the Space Coast along Florida’s picturesque Atlantic Coast.

The Space Coast (otherwise known as Brevard County) is home to the Kennedy Space Center, the Cape Canaveral Cruise Terminals, the unique Indian River Lagoon habitat, Ron Jon’s Surf Shop, and many other exciting attractions. You can go fishing, watch a rocket launch, get a tan, or party your heart out in Brevard County. If you’re fascinated by astronomy and space travel, you love to surf, or you simply want a nice, relaxing vacation filled with fresh, ocean air and southern hospitality, then Florida’s Space Coast will satisfy your every vacation craving and leave you wanting more.

The most well known Space Coast attraction is the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Together, these two neighbors are responsible for more space launches than any other location in the world. All of the Apollo moon missions, every space shuttle launch, and countless unmanned satellite launches have left our planet’s surface from this location.

The Space Center’s visitor complex offers a full day of fun, educational activities. The first thing you’ll notice when entering the visitor center is the rocket garden, where you’ll see many of the actual rockets (not models) from the illustrious history of our nation’s space exploration program. Nearby you can take a moment to pay your respects to the Astronaut Memorial, which lists all of the fearless men and women who paid the ultimate price to further our understanding of the universe. Bus tours will bring you to the launch pads, the enormous vehicle assembly building, the Saturn V Center, and plenty of fantastic photo opportunity locations.

Also at the Kennedy Space Center is the exhilarating Shuttle Launch Experience, an Imax theater, plenty of activities for children, and opportunities to meet with real astronauts! Plus, if you’re lucky enough to visit when a rocket is scheduled to launch, you’ll witness an awe-inspiring event that few people in the world have experienced.

After you spend a day or two at the Space Center, grab your surf board and head for Cocoa Beach. Cocoa Beach is on the narrow, barrier island separating the Atlantic Ocean from the Indian River and Banana River lagoons. Here you’ll find world-renowned beaches, five-star hotels and resorts, scrumptious seafood restaurants, incredible shopping opportunities, and the castle in the middle of it all: Ron Jon’s Surf Shop.

Spend a few days soaking up some rays on the beach, swimming in the ocean with your family, surfing on the same beach were professional surfer Kelly Slater honed his talents, or taking advantage of the many amenities offered by some of the local resorts and spas. Here you will also find casino cruises which depart daily for international waters for a fun night of gambling, dining, and cocktails. If gambling isn’t your thing, you may instead decide to book a daytime fishing cruise or a short trip to unique scuba diving opportunities. Most of these cruises depart from the Cape Canaveral Cruise Terminals (just north of Cocoa Beach), where you’ll also find massive cruise vessels ready to take you to the Bahamas, Jamaica, and just about anywhere else you wish to go.

On the mainland (across the bridge from the beaches), you’ll find Historic Cocoa Village. A beautifully maintained historic area, Cocoa Village houses many fine dining opportunities, a collection of unique shops, coffee houses, parks, playgrounds, boat charter and rental businesses along the Indian River, and the Cocoa Village Playhouse. Be sure to take the time to go out on the Indian River Lagoon, an ecologically unique mix of fresh water and sea water. Here you’ll find manatees, dolphins, stingrays, alligators, and many other unique species found nowhere else in the country. You can also water ski, knee board, or jet ski in the lagoon. Or grab a fishing net and catch some mullet for a delicious, outdoor cookout. Smoked mullet is probably Brevard’s proudest culinary achievement.

A little further south you’ll find the Melbourne area and more gorgeous beaches. If you’re a baseball fan, you won’t want to miss a Brevard Manatees game at the Space Coast Stadium. Near the stadium, in Viera, Florida, the Brevard Zoo provides yet another full day of family fun. Historic Downtown Melbourne’s commercial district offers even more five-star culinary adventures and an exciting, active night life. The Foosaner Art Museum in the Eau Gallie Arts District is a great place to experience local artists, and next door to the art museum is the education/science center, which offers children an exciting learning experience.

There are plenty of hotels and resorts on this side of the county as well, especially across the lagoon in the Satellite Beach/Melbourne Beach areas. In late Spring/early Summer, if you venture out onto the South Brevard beaches at night you might catch a rare glimpse of sea turtles laying their eggs (be careful to follow the guidelines, though, as strict rules are in place for viewing these magnificent creatures).

Florida’s Space Coast definitely provides a full itinerary for even the most adventurous vacationers. In addition to everything listed above, the area is also home to dozens of golf courses, stadium and Imax movie theaters, live music venues, public parks and recreation areas, museums, art galleries, and much, much more. Brevard County has been the final embarkation point for scientific pioneers and explorers as they pushed the limits of human knowledge into outer space. The sun always shines on Brevard’s warm, inviting Atlantic beaches, and college students need look no further than Cocoa Beach for their spring break destination. Hotels, spas, great shopping, delicious cuisine, and exciting family adventures await you on Florida’s Space Coast!

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