Let me start by saying that as a newbie homesteader, I have greatly romanticized the idea of getting our very own family cow. I have read every article available on them; from raising them, to what kind of cow to buy, and everything a dairy cow would possibly need to thrive. I have dreamed of carrying the large mason jars to the milking barn (the milking barn I don’t actually yet have) and filling them to the top, watching the steam rise from the fresh milk in the chilly morning air. I have desired so greatly to have those jars to bring in, to pour for my children as we watched our beautiful, Jersey mama go back out to pasture and frolic with her adorable baby calf as we drink our delicious, God-made milk. Do you see what I mean by greatly romanticizing this? Literal, doe eyed, daydreaming, people! Its not like I dont know that there will be poop, and cow tails smacking me in the face and that I might get kicked a few times…I just choose to leave these parts out of my daydreams!
My love story with raw milk came about as I began to research factory farming, animal conditions within those farms, the price of organic milk that is falsely labeled, my desire to support local farms, along with trying to come up with ways around my sons milk allergy. I began reading about the milk pasteurization process and how it kills all of the good stuff that is in raw milk. It turns out, its the pasteurization process that makes my son allergic to the milk! There are SO MANY benefits to raw milk over pasteurized milk. Here’s a link that tell you more:
So I decided that I would just find someone in my area who sells milk. Should be no problem, as I live in a very rural area, surrounded by farms. A few Google searches should provide me with exactly what I need, probably within 10 minutes of my house…well, not so much. Turns out, selling raw cows milk for human consumption is illegal in the state of North Carolina. It can only be legally sold for pet consumption. I found this to be SO ODD as there are SO MANY things available to buy at the store that are so obviously bad for you, but yet, natural milk was being put out there as something that wasn’t safe? Okay, FDA. (Can you hear my eye roll through this screen right now?) I ended up finding a few places who sold high quality raw milk, for “pet consumption,” none of which were near me. The closest one was 45 minutes away, so that’s the one I checked into first. I checked their website almost daily for a month and a half straight and they were always sold out. I called repeatedly and no one ever answered. So I tried another farm that was an hour away, and they said they were filled up with orders and that there was a waiting list if someone cancelled. I would be 12th in line on this list…so I was getting a little frustrated. I finally found a farm advertising on Craigslist and called. The lady answered and was so nice and informative. She had a small, all organic, farm where we could come visit, get to know the animals, see the milking process and then take home our milk! I was over the moon and willing to make whatever drive necessary at this point. Field Trip!! By the way, homeschool moms can make anything into a field trip! I loaded up the kids right then and there and off we went. I was so excited!
It was a beautiful farm, where we got to watch the entire process and meet the mama cow and her babies. After her milking was finished, she was taken back out to her big open pasture where she hung out with her calves and munched on grass & local hay.
My kids got to play with some new goat friends and these two became thick as theives. I’m surprised I didn’t leave with a new farm animal friend…she wasn’t selling any…I’m just known for that kind of thing.
When it was all said and done, there I was with my gallon of warm, fresh cows milk in glass jars, in my hands. I had met the farmer, the cow, her babies and my kids learned something new!
All that was left was to give it a try. I prayed that I would love it and I half prayed I wouldn’t die from drinking it…I’m still shaking off that grocery store consumer mindset in a few areas…and gave it a good sip. Of course, this waited until I was far out of sight, as I was supposed to be buying it for my pets!
Delicious! Absolutely terrific! I imagined it would be thick…and maybe really earthy tasting. But it wasn’t at all. It was the same consistency as store bought milk but the taste was better. Not as sweet, but more rich. You could literally taste the goodness that abounded! I was sold with that first sip and I vowed to never go back to pasteurized. My son has been drinking raw milk for a few weeks now and has had zero problems with it. Surprise! He isn’t allergic to pure cows milk! We use it for everything and we are so pleased with its quality.
So maybe you’re interested in trying it too. I really, really hope you are! I am so passionate about people getting back to basics with their food and getting up close and personal with where it comes from. But maybe raw milk freaks you out. Maybe you’re worried about getting sick? Let me tell you, that statistically, you’re more likely to die in a car crash than to get sick from raw milk. It gets a bad rep from the food industry…the same food industry that allows you to eat high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and carrageenan. So I mean, maybe these aren’t the most trustworthy individuals?? I’m just sayin’.
The cost could be another factor why you’re not sold on raw milk. Depending on your area, a gallon of raw milk could cost you as much as $14! I’ve heard of it being as low as $6…but that definitely isn’t near me. A gallon around these parts will cost you about $12, and I bought two. So I’m paying about $100 a month just in milk. I know to some that seems outrageous, but I was paying about $80 a month before in organic milk & in lactose free milk. Milk that was pasteurized, not local, andfrom cows that probably are not raised in a big open field where they could frolic in the sunshine. I certainly never got to meet those cows!
These things are super important to me, so I’ve made concessions in other areas of our grocery budget.
If availability is an issue, get out and start talking to people. Talk to the people at your local farmers market, the butcher, the lady selling you essential oils, somebody knows something! It took me a year of research, and about 5 months of asking around and Google searching before I found someone who had it available. But I didn’t give up! After reading about the health benefits and about how most dairy cows are treated at large production farms, having fresh, raw cows milk was at the top of my priority list for my family.
Here’s another article stating the pros and cons of raw milk:
I’m very hopeful that in 2018, our homestead will see its first cow because I certainly will never go back to store bought. Our first experience on this dairy farm and every one we’ve had since has only solidified my doe eyed daydreams and proven what I’ve always known to be true, that milk in its purest form, the way our grandparents drank it, is best!