Sunday, March 22

Raw Milk, Fresh Milk

For years we bought our milk at a dairy farm on our way back down from the north country where Sean was building our cabin. The farmer was grumpy, the cows were grumpy and it was overall a grumpy, dirty farm. Aren't all farms dirty? At least the milk was pasteurized, we thought. And fresh from the cow. It tasted delicious.

Moving out of the city two years ago took us even further from the out-of-the-way farm and the hunt for good milk began. It may sound strange but once you have had fresh milk, it is painful to go back to watery, bland store milk. So painful. Like tasting really, really good coffee and having to settle for the Maxwell can for the rest of your days. Or instant tea instead of fresh brewed.

About this time Sean had begun reading about the benefits of raw milk and the not so fun facts about ultra pasteurization. We researched it and we decided that this would be the way we wanted to go with the milk we were feeding our family.

We began asking around without much luck. So and so heard so and so got some here, what about this place, have you checked with another so and so....
We asked at the farm we bought eggs from. Our own chicks had just arrived and were settling into life being befriended by four kids. We got a scribbled phone number, a pick up place and a code word. I kid you not. The $5 a gallon price choked us up a bit. Lots of kids drink lots of milk.

My husband is wonderful and a bzillion times more outgoing than I am, which I love. He picked up a fat yellow phonebook and began calling the farms listed in the area. One benefit to living in New York is the load of dairy farms.

Most farmers via phone gave him the cold shoulder, understandably. Most milk companies will not pick up milk from a farm if they know the farm is also selling it raw.

For a while, we found a farm to buy raw milk from, until they began shipping out their milk again. Once again, the search was on. Sean loaded us up in the van and we went for a drive.

We pulled into many, many farm driveways. At some, Sean stopped to wander into the barns and talk to the farmers, asking about milk. At others, we took one look at the filth and drove away.

What we were blessed to find that night was a farmer with a clean barn, and clean, healthy cows. They are fed well and kept well. If they ever need any antibiotics or medication, the farmer dumps their milk.

Sean has become good friends over the last year with the young farmer. They talk farming and hunting and politics and religion. Meanwhile, he (the farmer) washes each cow before and after hooking it up to the milking machine, using separate towels for each cow, donning new gloves with each milking. (And I thought I had a lot of laundry!)

The floors are swept clean. No piles of manure or unclean bedding. At regular intervals the farmer has his milk tested. It routinely comes back with a lower than average bacteria count. It is sweet and creamy.

We leave a twenty in the office for him every few visits, taking home two plus gallons each time. I'm fairly confident the raw milk controversy is simmering down, so I won't bore you with the facts and health benefits.
I will recommend you order from the library, this book. It is good for loads of nutritional information besides milk info.

Or stop by this website. There is such a simple benefit to becoming mindful of the origins of our food.

The sun is beginning to set as the kids slurp down their mason jar of fresh, raw milk. Going to get milk rates high on their weekly agenda.
The two gallon container of milk will balance between my feet as we drive home.

I write a lot about being cheap, or thrifty in a lot of areas of life. There are ways to be thrifty and serve your family good, even excellent things.


Sarah said...

Yum! We are raw milk fans too, but can't always get it. For $5/gallon?? What I wish I would give for that price! In California, where it is legal to buy raw milk, I can find it at our local co-op for $7.99/half gallon and $16/gallon.

Organic, pasteurized, homogenized milk is normally $5.99/gallon.

Feel blessed!:)


PS - I love the pictures of your darlings!

PPS - I too am a NT fan . . .

Me said...


Thank you for this post. We, too, used to get fresh milk from a not-too-far-off farmer. I would love to get it again but think that finding a clean place and also one that didn't use antibiotics or hormones would be near impossible. Not to speak of finding someone willing to sell to individuals.

Your pictures were wonderful. Thank you. :)

Diane Shiffer said...

we live in upstate ny too:)

i have been on a search for raw milk... not an *intensive* search mind you, but i'd sure like to find a farm that would sell it to me, without having to drive too terribly far. there is an amish farm a couple of towns over west that reportedly sells it, but i'd just have to drive over there, show up on their doorstep unannounced and ask about buying raw milk... not having an outgoing husband handy makes such things just a bit harder;)

Ways of Zion said...

Thanks for this great post, and the wonderful pics of farm life! oh how I wish we lived out in the country completely not just in a farm town in the country~!

Lynn Hasty said...

Beautiful post, Hannah. My husband grew up on a dairy farm, so he is very aware of the difference in fresh milk and store milk. He still talks about it from time to time.

I would love to be able to get fresh milk. I really want goat's milk as well, but for now I have not put the effort into finding it.

Thanks for the website link.


Anonymous said...

Just wanted you to know that I absolutely adore it when you make posts like this one and the one prior... So beautiful and inspiring. Now I need to try looking for some good milk again! I tried before and gave up, but the search is back on... Thanks! =)

mandi said...

yes! great post! i've had some buzz over on my blog about writing up a raw milk post.

side note: around here raw milk is going for $9-$12 a gallon! can you believe that? i barter granola for ours...too expensive otherwise. but to be honest, i'd pay it for its health benefits and to support our widowed dairy farmer (whom i love).

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...we grew up on raw milk. I recall going to the farm twice a week with my dad, standing on the "hump" in the back seat of the car, dodging the snarling farm dogs, helping the farmer's wife gather eggs, and shake, shake, shaking the milk before drinking. You brought back fond memories. Bottoms Up!

Anonymous said...

I remember when I first found out the price of our raw milk - $7.00. I was shocked, but now it makes sense, all things considered. I just read another study saying that children drinking raw milk have fewer than half of the cases of asthma and hayfever. It is reassuring.

Anonymous said...

Just had to follow up... After some research here locally, I did find an excellent farm only 15minutes or so away (can you believe it?!) and we are going there tonight to get our first gallon of fresh raw milk! And, get this... ONLY $3 per gallon! Isn't that unheard of? Clean farm, friends recommended it, also supplies to a big dairy company. So excited! Thanks for the inspiration to get off my duff and search a little harder! =)

Rosie said...

My son was on Raw milk for awhile due to trying to figure out if he was allergic or not. But due to the cost and the fact I have to drive out twice a week to a local whole food's we had to stop. If I lived closer I would start him up again.

Emily said...

I've been getting raw milk here in Oregon, and would love to have the price of $5/gallon. I pay twice that much...I just need to convince a friend to buy a dairy cow and give me free milk I guess :)

Expensive but worth every penny!