I Left Civilization for Raw Milk
I felt like I was buying pot.
Sneaking around a parking lot, looking over my shoulder for the fuzz, getting the feeling from the Christian milkmaids that they should be careful around me: I could be an informant. How did I feel about the raw milk law? I thought it was stupid. I also think stupid laws should not just be traversed, but overturned with just laws – and the tides seem to be turning as more people become informed and get involved.
Alas, all was not well back on the black market. My milkmaids got scared, hearing of other raw milk farmers getting busted in a church parking lot. It was not worth the risk for them to drive from the country to the city, and their customers were not able or willing to obey the law and pick up their raw milk from the farm. I was willing. I was hooked and was not going to go back to the organic processed milk that would harm my family, now that I knew the truth (having read The Untold Story of Milk by Ron Schmid) and tasted the difference. Not only was I willing to drive two hours each way to get our weekly raw milk fix, but I paid $16 a gallon for four gallons a week.
However, little girls grow up and go away to college, and our milkmaids sold their cows. My husband and daughter threatened to get a cow for our backyard in downtown Dallas, we were already breaking the law by having chickens and roosters. So, when we packed up our birds and went to our farm in Colorado for the summer, I decided to stay, homeschool our daughter and supply my own raw milk. My husband started traveling back and forth from Texas to Colorado.
We now live in the wilderness, almost 30 miles outside of a small town that is blessed with an amazing farm, Parker Pastures, which provides raw milk shares, grass-fed beef and lamb, and pastured pork. Isn’t that enough, you ask? Why in the world would I want to get our own milk cow knowing how much work was required from my husband’s stories growing up on a small dairy in Holland? There, they hand-milked 20 cows, hand-cut the hay with scythes, worked the fields with draft horses. You couldn’t leave, you couldn’t get sick. Cows had to be milked.
Everyday when I milk my cows I repeat to myself that this hard life I have chosen is worth it. Living and discovering the grass-fed life is back-breaking, but rewarding. Lifting heavy bales of hay to feed all the animals, mucking out the barns, wading across the rushing or frozen river to retrieve the cows at milking time, chasing the escaped sheep, stoking the wood-burner with heavy logs, losing the battle feeding the chickens so the pigs don’t eat all their feed, learning the skill of slaughtering my own animals, and sometimes making ice milk directly from the cow to bucket in sub zero weather. It’s all worth it.
Our lives are now centered around the grass-fed life, with our Jersey cows being the nucleus. Raw milk and it’s myriad benefits have brought us to a place of self-reliance and groundedness within the cycles of life. Grass pastures must be carefully irrigated and grazing rotated to produce enough for the summer months. Calves are kept with their mothers to become the healthiest and strongest for either stocking our freezer or becoming a milk cow. Hay must be cut, raked, baled, stacked and stored for winter feed. The raw milk lifestyle is worth it, and it brings health and strength. By replacing our “civilized” city food with grass-fed farm food, we don’t get sick and we eat like kings of old.
Yes, we had lovely milk from our farmer, but we were really hooked. Do you know it takes three gallons of raw milk to make a little over a pound of butter? And what about cheese, kefir, ice cream? What about the baby piglets who squeal in delight for whey and buttermilk, the chickens who devour grain soaked in clabbered skim milk? We needed a lot of milk to support our habit, but beyond all that I needed a Siren Song for my traveling Odysseus and I am no Penelope. I wanted marriage security and found it: whipped raw cream in coffee. It truly is the reason for waking up, and no matter how abandoned I feel at times, I know my dear husband will hurry back as fast as he can for that.
Is the risk of having our raw milk supply cut off due to changing laws or lack of year round supply from a farmer worth the chance? Not for my family, which is why I gave up civilization to milk my own cows.
What lengths do you go to for raw milk?
Photo Credit: Jamie Huizenga
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