Last weekend, my daughter and I attended a firearms safety class with a friend of mine at a local state-of-the-art firing range, after which we all went to lunch at a new Chinese restaurant in our town. During the course of conversation, my friend mentioned that a local dairy farm was once again selling milk. You can’t imagine my joy at hearing the news!
I had found this farm back when we first moved to the area and was so excited to be able to purchase milk and cheeses produced from local grass-fed cows. However, not long after I discovered it, the family decided that after years of devoting much family time to the business, they were going to cut back production to making just butter and cheese. I was one of many, many people that, although we understood, were so disappointed. There’s nothing like fresh, non-homogenized, basically organic milk from your local dairy! So it was back to buying organic milk from the grocery store which can’t compare to the local milk we’d become accustomed to drinking. Even my Southern Man, who has digestive issues, had no problems drinking the local vs store-bought milk, and was disappointed that it was no longer available to us.
Which brings us to today: I got up and out early to get to the dairy to get my fresh milk and cheeses in case they ran out. I was the only customer there and had a nice conversation with one of the owners. The milk is now labeled and sold as “pet milk” because that is how it is allowed to be sold in the state of Alabama due to it being raw milk: non-homogenized and non-pasteurized. There is still such a stigma about raw milk, at least in this country, that many people are very leery about drinking it. The owner said she, her family, and employees have all drank it for years, no problem. My mom, who grew up on a dairy farm, also grew up drinking it, and when we still lived in New Hampshire, which DOES allow the sale of raw milk for to be labeled for human consumption, we purchased some for our daughter.
I breastfed my daughter until she was six months-old, then switched her to formula. Her body did NOT tolerate it. I won’t go into details (you’re welcome) suffice it to say it had to do with the iron supplementation, I believe. It was a miserable time. There are some things you’re glad infants can’t remember! Fortunately, the internet was available for research and I discovered that goat’s milk is extremely close to mother’s milk. Fortunately also, we happened to know some people that owned a goat farm, so I was able to purchase fresh goat’s milk until our daughter was a year old, then we made the switch to cow’s milk, seemingly without incident. It wasn’t until several years later that we thought that she might have lactose sensitivity, not lactose intolerance which can be quite nasty for reasons I won’t go into (you’re welcome). The dairy owner told me that many people can’t handle homogenized milk which probably explains why my Southern Man had no issues with the local milk vs the store-bought which is, of course, homogenized; perhaps that was also the reason for our daughter’s sensitivity. We later realized that maybe she wasn’t necessarily lactose-intolerant or sensitive when I purchased some local raw milk at a NH farmer’s market and she had no problem consuming and digesting that. Unfortunately, the cost of the raw milk in NH was outrageously high and we couldn’t get it on a regular basis. Fortunately, she seemed to outgrow her sensitivity to a large degree. Here in Alabama, purchasing the pet milk is much less expensive and we will be consuming it as often and for as long as I can get my hands on it!
If you’re interested in raw milk and what your state’s policies are on it, this is a great website to check out: A Campaign for Real Milk — A Project of the Weston A. Price Foundation
The dairy owner and I wrapped up our conversation by speaking of how much she loves her life on the farm. We agreed that we didn’t think humans were meant to live in a “concrete jungle”, but that farming and ranching, as arduous as they can be, impart a certain wholesome peace and contentment that no modern job can provide, at least not for me. (Granted, not everyone will agree and that’s fine.) I told her how I envied her life in that regard and went on to relate about my grandparents’ farm, which is pictured below while it was still in its…heyday. It is where my most precious and fondest childhood memories were created and, as my Mom and other family members have said, the farming is in our blood. With many in my family, we are most content out in the rural areas of God’s beautiful creation. Once our daughter graduates and heads off to college, my hope is that we can find a home that is in one of those areas. Then maybe I can execute my plan/dream of having a nice garden of decent size, fruit and nut trees, some laying chickens, and maybe a couple animals of the equine persuasion. I can already imagine that peace of sitting on a front porch, at the end of fulfilling day, and watching the sun set in a brilliant sky of beautiful, ever-changing colors. Just a simple life. That will be nice.