This mom was breastfeeding when she learned how to pump a cow's udders. And, she was inspired by the cows so she's sharing her own milk.
Sophia Spear described herself as a “suburban housewife" before she and her husband Jon relocated to a 6.5 acre smallholding in Griffin, Georgia, soon loved country life.
They acquired 12 laying hens, five cockerels, three cows, two goats and two cats.
“My husband had always spoken about wanting to live off the land some day and I went along with it, but never for a second thought it would happen," Jon said.
“Before we moved, I'd describe myself as a 'crunchy granola' kind of mum and wife," Sophia added.
“We were living in your typical family starter house, on a street full of neighbors and we went to a nice supermarket, buying factory farmed produce in nice packaging."
But that all changed when Sophia developed a taste for country life and even suggested they built up a dairy herd.
Annabelle and Sophia (PA Real Life/Collect)
“We didn't turn up with moving boxes and a whole farm's worth of animals," she said.
“The homestead already had all the land and shelter for your typical livestock – including a chicken coop – so we began by getting six laying hens and a cockerel.'
“It was definitely a good way of easing the whole family into farm life and was a great place to start."
Sophia, Jasper and Leland (PA Real Life/Collect)
“The children just love it, it's such a family activity. We go out each morning and collect the eggs – usually getting nine to 12 a day – and we eat nearly all of them," she said.
“We have omelettes, scrambled eggs, we bake – anything you can do with an egg I've tried. Even Bane, our pit bull mix dog, will settle for a few eggs if we're out of doggy food."
In January, 2019, the couple invested $3,000 in a Jersey cow and bull, hoping it would lead to daily fresh dairy produce.
And, Sophia fell pregnant.
“I wouldn't change the experience for the world. The midwife arrived when I went into labour and, after five hours, I had Jasper in a birthing pool in the living room," she said.
Sophia's breast milk (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I had a shower afterwards and got straight into my own bed with him, instead of getting under crunchy, sterile hospitals sheets," she continued.
But, for the first three weeks of his life he struggled to breastfeed, meaning Sophia pumped milk, so she could give him a bottle.
After a month, he began breastfeeding without a problem.
Sophia and Jasper milking Annabelle (PA Real Life/Collect)
Meanwhile, Annabelle, the cow, also became a mom and Sophia learned to milk her cow, alongside breastfeeding her own baby.
“It was really hard work," she explained. “A lot harder than breastfeeding!"
“My husband's much better at milking than me, but he has a full-time job, so I had to get to grips with it."
Annabelle and Angus (PA Real Life/Collect)
“It's really not instinctive at all. People want to yank on the udder, but you shouldn't do that unless you're asking for a kick," she said.
“You have to massage and squeeze. I've just about got the hang of it, but it took a lot of YouTube videos and perseverance."
“I was making a massive supply of breast milk, pumping three to four times a day, whenever I breastfed Jasper," she said.
“Like a cow, it's very much about supply and demand. The more I pumped, the more milk I produce."
“I compare myself to Annabelle a lot. I'll joke to the kids, 'I feel like a cow – sat here pumping milk all day.'"
Sophia's breast milk (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I soon had a freezer filled with nine liters of my breastmilk and didn't know what to do with it," she said.
“If it had been Annabelle's milk I'd have tried to make some butter or yogurt – but that wasn't an option!"
Rather than dumping the excess, Sophia posted on her local breastfeeding group's Facebook page and, to her amazement, was inundated with messages from mothers who could not produce enough of their own.
Sophia's hens (PA Real Life/Collect)
So, the next day, one of the mums happily collected her surplus.
“I basically commented saying I had nine liters of milk in the freezer, which was there if someone wanted it," she said.
Amazed when she saw how many people had commented on the post, Sophia had a bright idea.
Jasper next to Sophia's breast pump (PA Real Life/Collect)
“There were posts from everyone from mums who had adopted newborns and couldn't breastfeed themselves, to women struggling to find formula because of panic buying following the pandemic outbreak," she said.
“I sat my husband down and told him I wanted to donate my surplus milk to mums who needed it. He gave me the go ahead, so I started pumping away."
“I have the time – spending two hours every day doing it – and the ability, so there's no reason not to."
Sophia has now donated 62 liters of her milk and, she will continue giving her surplus away for the foreseeable future.
All she asks for in return is replacement bags to store the milk in.
“I don't feel comfortable asking for payment for my donations," she said.
Jon, Atticus, Leland, Jasper and Sophia (PA Real Life/Collect)
“But I get through two to six freezer bags a day, so I don't mind asking for them," she said.
“I've realized how important breast milk is for babies and, as long as I can help other mums, I am happy to be a human milkmaid."