Posts Tagged ‘raw milk’

Wow, that’s a mouthful.  If you read that less than stimulating headline and still came to the article, you might need to see a doctor.  It’s even worse for me, I wrote the darned thing.  Still, you’re here so let’s chat.

Two articles I’ve read the couple days have brought me once again to the subject of Govt. intrusion into the food chain. They remind me of the hypocrisy and silliness of our current USDA and FDA regulatory system, and of our abdication of our personal responsibility in taking ownership of our lives.  Once upon a time those agencies may have been about food safety and availability, but now it appears to be about power, money and control.

I don’t mean to drag this space down into the political mire, it’s supposed to be a fun place to follow our adventures and misadventures here at the farm. Sometimes, though, I feel compelled to digress. This is one of those times.

The first story is about Tyson recalling 34,000 lbs of mechanically separated chicken. The second is an announcement that the State of Maryland is considering decriminalizing raw milk.

In the first story, Tyson is voluntarily recalling 17 tons of potentially dangerous, salmonella affected chicken, unlike Foster Farms who recently refused to do so. (Side note, FF were at least partly right in citing proper food handling and cooking as the best way to minimize risk).

I congratulate Tyson on their action. My purpose is not to point fingers at the big chicken companies, but the inconsistencies of the system set up to monitor the food chain.

As a side note, the funniest part of the article was the reporter’s declaration that the food was destined for ‘institutional’ use and would not have made it into the public arena. Oh, good; instead of Kroger and Walmart, the chicken would have found its way into schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. That’s much better, considering the agencies’ propaganda machines consistently use protection of children and the elderly as justification for their regulatory over reach.  Hmmm….

Do your research, the overwhelming majority of food borne illness outbreaks come from Big Agra sources rather than small, local farms; yet it is the small producer who suffers the burden of the regulations.  Am I the only person who thinks that doesn’t pass the smell test? It is small dairies, farms and meat producers who are raided at 0 dark thirty, with their families terrorized by armed authorities wielding power like an invading army. Produce and livestock are confiscated, fines levied and sometimes arrests happen. Families are left in tears, their lives and livelihoods shattered while Foster Farms and Tyson hire a cleaning crew and production rolls on. What a great use of taxpayer money…not.

The second article, while encouraging, highlights the almost comical inconsistencies in the food regulatory system.

We all want food to be safe to consume (There’s a d’oh moment for you), but do we need to resort to Govt over reach and propaganda to achieve food safety? Again, the historically serious health risks have come from big rather than small, local operations.

For thousands of years, and still today in agrarian societies, humans milked their livestock and consumed the milk and cheeses without mass deaths to them, their neighbors or their children. Oh, did I mention that they did it all without even refrigeration?  How did people ever survive without Government regulation?  Thank goodness Nanny is here to rescue us from ourselves.

As people left their rural existence and moved to the city, enterprising farmers moved their dairies closer to their customer base and grew larger. Eventually, due to overcrowding and lack of sanitation or good handling practices, things like e-coli, listeria and giardia became an issue.

Fortunately, Louis Pasteur, learned that heating the milk would kill the bugs and make the milk safe again. Similarly, Alexander Fleming, living and working in overcrowded London, discovered penicillin and we could fight the bacteria already invading our bodies. Problem solved.  Or not.

What we now know is that the proliferation of antibiotics (we take them like candy), has compromised our immune systems and has promoted the rise of super strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria. This is good for the pharmaceutical companies, but not so good for people.

We also know that pasteurization kills the vitamins and the good bugs in milk  as well as the bad ones.  Therefore, we have to fortify our dairy products with the vitamins we killed and we have to add probiotics to our yogurt to replace the ones that existed naturally in the milk before we pasteurized it.  How do you spell, ‘irony’?

Common sense is dead!  So is critical thinking!  Ok, if not dead, both are certainly on the endangered list. Today, we have abdicated our thinking to Government oversight and have sacrificed our liberty to their agencies. Shame on us.

I have nothing against pasteurization or antibiotics. They have a place.  So does raw milk, cheese and yogurt. Chances are, when a person switches to raw milk, she/he will suffer some digestive challenges as the body builds up a new set of probiotics, in the same way beginning a regimen of exercise after a long spell of inactivity leaves us sore and tired.  After a while, though, we are healthier than ever.

Please, do your research. Think for yourself. You are more capable of making decisions about your life, your health and your diet than any Government agency ever could be. King George would be very proud of our current reliance on our Government benefactors.  I on the other hand, take my lead from Patrick Henry (in the misquoted version), “Give me liberty, or give me death.”  First though, I think I’ll have a nice cold glass of raw milk.

(p.s.) Stay tuned for my next feather ruffling installment, ‘Why I’m opposed to mandatory labeling of GMOs”.  He said WHAT?

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goatsSo much for ‘a long winter’s nap’.  Spring is upon us in all its busy glory.  Where did the peaceful winter go?  Yikes.

First, kidding season has begun and is nearly over.  We have 10 baby goats on the ground and only one more doe left to kid.

In a related matter, Brittan has begun milking.  She’s doing things a bit differently this year and leaving the kids with their mothers and only milking once a day until weaning.  As a result, we’re not going to have much milk available for customers until around the end of April, but I’ll be having my chocolate milk nightcap on a regular basis.  I can’t figure out why I don’t lose any weight…..

The greenhouse is up and operational.  It’s far from finished, but at least it’s functional.  I’m so happy about that and so grateful to everyone who pitched in on weekends to make it happen.  We have a seedlingsfew things growing in it already.  The strawberries are looking good as are some herbs and a couple of early tomato plants.  I have several seedling trays going and have more to start.  I’m way behind getting beds ready for planting, but still have plenty of time to catch up…if I get my wide side in gear and get going, that is.

We move the aquaponics unit into the greenhouse this weekend and should have some lettuces and herbs going in it very soon. I’ve decided to focus on the Tilapia business this year and wait until next greenhousespring to do the crawfish.  I am very good at putting too many irons in the fire and getting burned, so just this one time, I’m going to focus on one fish project only.  That means, I’ll be ordering this year’s Tilapia and my breeding colony within the month.  Watch this space for pre ordering fish that will be ready to harvest this fall.  My plan right now, is to do this just like we used to do with chickens and take reservations.  I know that we’ve had loads of requests for them already, so it will be first come, first serve.

Since we were surprised by baby pigs, our pork project is way off schedule.  We should have had two in the freezer and instead we have 5 babies being fed by one of the sows and the other one is looking pretty pregnant to me.  It will be at least May now before we have any pork.  On the other hand, we have this year’s feeder pigs already on the ground, so the glass really is half full.  Watch for details of pastured pork being available this autumn.

We are out of the beef business.  For space and financial reasons, and because of my health, we had to find new homes for our cows.  It was an extremely difficult and emotional decision, but the right one.  We are comfortable with our decision.

We have eggs.  Yay!  The girls are laying well, as one would expect this time of year, and we are collecting quite a few.  Unfortunately, the pigs are collecting their fair share, too.  As a result, we’re going to have to build a pen to feed the pigs in and to put them in at night so we can actually gather eggs before they do.  We love having our porkers ranging, but since we can’t keep them from stealing, they’re going to have to spend some time in their cell, and we’ll let them out on a work release program.  We have them in our worst pasture so they can root it up and allow us to replant. If they get their fill of eggs, though, they will never get the plowing done.shadows

We do hope to have a few rabbits born this spring, as well.  The only kindle so far, had two in it and they were born outside the nest and died.  It happens to first time rabbit mothers sometimes.  Hopefully, two more are pregnant right now.  We’ll know in a few weeks.

I think that catches you all up for now.  I will try and be more diligent about taking photos.  I’m really terrible about remembering to capture images.  Please have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

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Every breed of cow has its strengths and weaknesses. Every breed has its proponents and detractors. Popularity of breeds waxes and wanes like the tides, or the phases of the moon. In my lifetime, beef breeds have come and gone like the flavors of the month at Baskin Robbins.  At one time, it was Herefords, then Charolais. For a while everyone who cared about beef wanted a mighty Simmental. These days, Angus are en vogue.

Dairy cows have pretty much gone the same route, with Milking Shorthorns, Brown Swiss and Guernseys having their day. Those who are big on butterfat, swear by Jerseys. For sheer volume, nothing beats a Holstein.

Across the country, there are dozens of other breeds who have a following; Brahman, Longhorn, Pineywoods, Murray Grey, Belted Galloway and many more have found a place in the pastures and barnyards of America.

There is one breed though, that stands head and shoulders above the crowd as the ideal family cow.  The Irish Dexter has functioned for centuries as a beef, dairy and draft animal for small farmers, crofters and homesteaders in its native Ireland. For nearly a century and a half, the Dexter has served a similar purpose here in the USA.

Saying Dexters stand head and shoulders above other cattle, is a bit of a stretch as they are the smallest Heritage breed of cattle, standing only 36 to 44 inches or so tall.  A mature female will top out at 600 – 800 lbs, while a bull might tip the scales at 1000 lbs.

Dexters are outstanding foragers and can thrive on the best or even the most marginal of pastures. They are a great choice for those who want to supply their families grass fed beef, but have only a few acres of pasture available. It is fairly easy to keep two Dexters plus their calves on a good acre of grass.

High producing Dexter dairy cows will give up to 2 gallons a day in sweet, rich milk. A 100% grass fed cow will provide ½ to 1 gallon a day; more than enough for most families to drink and to have extra for butter and cheese.  The leftover whey and buttermilk will be a fantastic supplement for chickens or a feeder pig.

A family raising two cows can plan their breeding so that one of the cows calves early in the year and one late in the year so that milk is available year round.  The calves can be raised as beeves or sold for extra cash.

Did I mention that I don’t think any breed of cattle comes close to matching the Dexter for temperament?  They are easily trained to halter and rope. They enjoy being petted and handled. Ours will follow us anywhere as long as there is a treat at the end of the journey.

We are slowly building our herd of Dexters. For a while, we’ll still be buying feeder steers from the auction, but within a couple of years, we expect all our beef and dairy to come from Dexters.  Whether you have just a couple acres and want to raise a cow, or have hundreds of acres and want to be an honest to goodness rancher, you should give Irish Dexters a serious look.

If you want to learn more, you might want to check out this website.


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In my last post about the goat’s milk products, I reflected on how much we hated the cheese.  Specifically, Brittan made a hard cheese using a Manchego cheese recipe.  It was just gosh awful.  I might as well have been sucking on a billy goat hide.

Since then she has also made Feta and Chevre.  The results were superior to the Manchego in every way.  The feta was a little goaty, but cooked up nicely in some Greek style meatballs.  The cheese gave it an authentic Mediterranean flavor that reminded me of kabob meat in the U.K. or even of an Indian Kofte kabob.

The Chevre was a surprise.  I have hated every bite of Chevre I’ve ever taken up until Thursday when we sampled the batch Brittan made.  She hung it a little longer than the minimum, so it was a bit drier and crumblier than other Chevre I’ve had.  It was somewhere between a dry cottage cheese and an extra dry cream cheese.  We spread it on bread and topped it with blackberry jam.  It was very good.  A few bites were goaty, but on the whole it was an extremely pleasant experience.

The same day she made the Chevre (Wednesday), Brittan made her first batch of yogurt.  My expectations were low.  Boy, howdy, was I wrong.  The yogurt came out a bit thin, like a drinking yogurt, but since we mostly have it in smoothies, that was not a problem.  It was tart and creamy and good.  To be hyper critical, one or two swallows had a distant hint of goat, but it was very faint.  Overall, it was another big win.  Summer strawberry, blackberry and blueberry smoothies just got kicked up a notch.

I’m not sure what else we’ll try, but I am totally up for it.

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Apologies to Ms. Katy Perry.

B and I are just about to have the first taste of our goat’s milk.  While it finishes chilling, I’m going to post a few pics.

I took a turn milking this morning.  I was awkward and bumbling, like I am at most things, but I got the job done.  Fortunately, our goats are patient(ish) and it helps that they know what they’re doing even if I don’t.

Brittan did most of the work while I snapped photos and fed some of the other animals.  We got a half gallon and a pint this a.m.  I suspect we’ll get more as we get more thorough.

East of Eden Farms Dairy is now operational. 




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They’re here!  Our Alpines arrived today.  Brittan milked them for the first time tonight.  We have three does and a buckling.  Two of the does are in milk.  We’ll spend the next two or three weeks learning the ropes, then we’ll start making products available.  Keep in mind that raw milk is only available in the USA as pet quality.  Politics.  Bah! Humbug.

Please stay tuned for availability.  Quantities will be limited.  Cheese prices will be determined based on the type of cheese.  Milk, when available, will be $5 for a half a gallon, or $2.75 for a quart.

I grabbed some snapshots of Brittan with the goats, but I left my camera in the truck.  I’ll post them tomorrow or Tuesday.

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