01 March 2010

Illegal Milk

We now have a couple of dairy goats who are hitting their stride in milk production. We've had several of them kid over the last several weeks, and activity here on the farm has been such a blur that I haven't been able to post about them individually.

The last one we described in detail, Holly's kid, is doing extremely well. We're not milking Holly yet. We are milking Button (mentioned in that post), and getting some decent production from her now that her twins are again separated from her.

Unfortunately, we had three additional kiddings that ended in disaster: Pansy, Violet, and Queen Anne's Lace all delivered kids over the last few weeks, and all those kids died. With QAL, the problem was a teat that got blocked up with colostrum that we didn't discover until the kids were half-starving. One died during her first night, and the other died during the second night (after we took him in the house and tried "rescue feeding" him with colostrum down the throat with a tube). With Pansy and Violet, we think the problem was in-breeding. They themselves are fairly in-bred, and they got bred back to their sire last fall. One kid was born dead, another was rejected immediately at birth (and didn't last more than a few hours in the house), and another dropped dead from some other unexplained cause.

We didn't really need these kids, but it's always sad to see animals die. The upside, we thought, was we now had two goats in milk and we could take all of it. Unfortunately, both does have very small teats and proved to be extremely difficult for the Yeoman Farm Children to milk. After struggling for a week to get even a cup and a half per day from the two of them, we decided to let them dry up and hope the teats elongate on subsequent kiddings (as has happened with other does on our farm).

Queen Anne's Lace, by contrast, has teats the size of sausages and is very easy to milk. Losing her twin kids turned out to be a blessing, as we're able to take all the milk from an easy milker.

A couple of days ago, the last of our does (Marigold) also kidded; both of her twins are alive and well so far, so it'll be awhile before we'll be milking her.

Still, with all the milk we're getting from QAL and Button, Mrs Yeoman Farmer is back making cheese with a vengeance. I'm also enjoying raw milk every morning with my cereal. And with raw milk very much on my mind, the following story caught my attention today:

It was creamy, but not as thick as heavy cream, with a buttery flavor that coated the tongue and left circles around the inside of my glass. This was sweet milk times two, warm white in color with a hint of yellow -- my first taste of raw milk from a farm in upstate New York.

When I cracked open the plastic container that looked exactly like the half gallons I get from my usual grocery store, I pressed my nose to the edge to get a whiff. This milk didn't have that cabbage-like smell that pasteurized milk can have, even when it's a perfectly fresh carton. I couldn't help but take another "black market" sip, since the sale of raw milk is illegal in New York State.

I ended the excerpt there, because the author goes on the repeat a lot of the typical nonsense claptrap FDA/USDA agitprop about the virtues-of-pasteurization-because-science-doesn't-prove-the-benefits-of-raw-milk-outweigh-the-risks. (Though I must admit her article as a whole is much more balanced in detailing the virtues of raw milk than what's typical in the mainstream press.) For those interested in more about the scientific case for raw milk as healthy food, and why it should be more widely available, there's perhaps no better source than the Weston A. Price Foundation; this link will take you to a search result for all "raw milk" articles on their site.

We love our raw milk. Too bad it's illegal to purchase on the open market in so many places (including our state), and the only way to get some is to own your own dairy animal.


DrGooch said...

I did a bit of philosophical rambling last night, late, about the regional struggle to preserve agriculture that we face in Utah, and the role of the Yeoman Farmer who produces small scale produce and good citizens.

Here is the link if you are inclined to share it with your readers: http://flyingimules.blogspot.com/2010/02/yeoman-farmer.html

Your blog has been a source of some inspiration. I appreciate the time you take to share your thoughts and I am doing what I can to pass it along to my own readers.

Homesteading Mommy said...

we love our milk too! and goat milk is the closest to human milk. there were times when farmer boy #1 needed a bottle and i had failed to pump enough. raw fresh goat milk went straight down the hatch w/ no problems- from as early as a week old!