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We are dedicated to providing healthy, clean, and transparent local food - all with great love for God's creation.

Raw Milk, Oh Baby!

My husband version of a “Proverbs 31 wife” has been milking our 8 year old Irish Dexter for about a month now.  Let me just cut to the chase… the milk is AMAZING! The taste, the texture, the health benefits, the butter, the cream, the sour cream, yumm, yumm!

Steven and I are learning first hand the work load increase that any small farm, grass fed dairy incurs. Steven wakes up one hour earlier to make his trek out to the paddock where the cows are grazing. (The walk gets progressively shorter since the rotationally grazing mob is on their way back to the barn. Every day, the walk is 30 feet shorter.) For the majority of dairies, they cut out this trek to the pasture by keeping the cows in sandy stalls or a dry lot and bringing them hay and grain.

Ivy is the cow. Milk is her game. She is a dehorned, black Irish Dexter cow and despite her eight years as “just a cow” she has become a quite trusty and calm milk machine. Steven halters her and leads her to the barn. He built a milking stanchion last year in hopes that one day he would be able to lead one of these dual purpose bovines up onto the raised platform to get a taste of this solar powered butter, cheese, ice cream, and milk. The crest of Ivy’s shoulder is just above my waste, so you could imagine the problems one may have when trying to milk udders that are so close to the ground.  We milk with a “short bucket” and a raised cow.

Day after day, Ivy gets more and more comfortable with her new roll. She knows where the stanchion is and will walk up into it and put her head through to chomp down on some delicious alfalfa cubes. I’ll admit, she liked my husband way more than me at first. She landed three kicks of about 30 tries when I first tried to take a turn at milking. Now when I see her shifting her weight, I rub the cow equivalent of a shin on her back leg until she calms and levels her weight back out. When you’re so “personal” when the cow and your head is totally in HER space, you can tell when she starts to have thoughts of kicking.

Milking is definitely a learned technique. You just have to learn it by doing it. Steven gets her going and the bucket gets all foamy. I tried and I was barely able to get a squirt out! Now, I am proud to say, that I can hum the melody to “I’m a Soul Man” to keep a rhythm and milk our three quarters of a gallon. Oh, yeah! Sure, she still gives Steven more milk, but my skills are growing.

When Steven milks both morning and evening, we are getting just over two gallons a day.  All this milk, what to do? What to do? Well make butter of course! Dexter milk has a fair share of cream. The lush alfalfa, clover, and orchard grass pastures make fine milk with plenty of cream. One quarter or more of each jar is cream after 24 hours. It takes longer to separate and float to the top than Jersey milk because the fat globules are smaller.

We’ve been exploring Gelato making. So far, we’ve had two batches that were C to F grades. This was due to our rookie mistakes. Now we are just pulling out two more batches, one vanilla and one Nutella. They are better but we may need to get a gelato maker as it seems that the speed of the paddles are slower when making real gelato.

For all of you who don’t know why one would go through the trouble to milk a cow I’ll just sum up some of the reasons. First, Ivy is 100% grass fed. Her milk has benefits similar to meat that is grass fed. The milk fat is healthy. Ivy is not fed “preventative” or sub therapeutic  antibiotics. So this is not in her milk. She is not given any bovine growth hormones to increase her production. Her body is cycling like a natural cow, a healthy cow, a womanly cow, as God designed. She’s giving the amount of milk that God intended her to give, not artificially over-producing for the sake of business profits.  Hormones come from the cow into her milk mainly in the fat molecules, so if there are added hormones (or naturally elevated estrogen due to the cow being pregnant) they are found in the cream & butter.  Ivy’s cream and butter, on the other hand, contain (probably) higher levels of CLAs and better ratios of EFAs.

Read more on Eat Wild

Anyone else have experience with a milk cow that you’d like to share? Anyone milking a Dexter? Anyone have any stories about Raw Milk benifites that you’ve experienced?

Food INC.

This past weekend I took my wife to see Food INC. This is a movie about our food system, our eating system ,and the industrialized way that our food is produced. Much of the movie was negative, of course, but there was a light at the end of the tunnel with Joel Salatin’s Polyface farms being used as an example of “The way things ought to be”.

Personally I think that there are two things (one feeds off of the other) that really make our food system what it is. The first is federal subsidies of crops such as corn and soybeans. This encourages a mass amount of monoculture farming where now the same fields in our area are being used year after year for corn. It also encourages more and more processed foods that are made of elements of corn and soy. These aren’t good for you but the biggest worry for me is the fact that most of these corn and soy are now GMO (genetically modified organisms). The reason there is so much of this stuff is because farmers can produce the crops for more more than what they are worth on the market and still make a profit with their multiple subsidies. This is not the fault of the farmer, it’s a policy problem.

The second big problem, and this is huge, is that one multi-national chemical corporation M****nto (can’t be too careful 🙂 is taking total control of our food. Not our country’s food but our world’s food. The are buying up seed companies and are bulying farmers into not saving their own seeds anymore. Soon we will all be eating GMO foods, not because farmers want to grow it but because they have no other choice. The stories in Food INC. about lawsuits against farmers and seed cleaners were really eye opening.

Of course there is something that we can all do. First, everyone can eat local, transparent food. Second, farmers that are thinking about raising natural and organic foods can take the plunge and start doing it.
Visit the Farmers Forum to see and get involved in a discussion on the movie.

Bull For Sale

We’re changing some of the direction of our herd and I wanted to keep our readers informed. We’ve concluded that our herd bull and first registered Dexter, Shome Breaburn, just doesn’t have he beef genetics that we need. So, although we still love smaller cattle, Braeburn is for sale.
We will be keeping some Dexter cows to cross to our new bull, along with our beltie heifers.
Below is a picture of Braeburn this spring and a picture of our new Lowline Angus bull, Doc Nathan. I’m going to call him Little Doc. He’s a son of Doc Holliday and should only be 48″ or less when he’s full grown.
As our herd grows, we may sell more of our purebred Dexters so feel free to inquire about them or Braeburn.
Email me at steven@franciscanfamilyfarms.com