I was poking around online the other day and came across an offer for "farm-fresh milk." I've heard a bit about farms that sell shares in their animals, which entitles the shareholders to a portion of the animals' output. It is illegal to sell raw milk in Colorado, but it is not illegal to partake of the milk from an animal you own. I decided to check it out.
Yesterday, I met Cutie, a French Alpine, who is currently the sole source of milk for human consumption on a 6-acre ranchette about 25 minutes' drive from my house.
Cutie lives with a Jersey cow, who I think is named Annabelle (I asked twice and it still didn't stick, so I may be wrong. I'll have to ask again!). Annabelle has not been bred yet, but hopefully will be soon, if her companion Dozer (as in Bull), is up to the task. Once she calves, she will produce milk, too.
Cutie, Annabelle and Bulldozer share space with Goofy, who is a little boy goat (Cutie's son?). Goofy is destined to become barbecue one of these days. If you have goats, the females are milkers and the males are meat. Sorry, Goofy. At least you're having a good life while it lasts.
In the garage, Sweetie, a LaMancha, peers out from the birthing pen.
She's in there because on Sunday she brought forth a kid of her own, named Lucky.
Lucky was expected to be twins or even triplets. But no, he turned out to be just one big boy. And not so lucky, really. He'll be barbecue, too.
Cutie had been eagerly awaiting our arrival, though she didn't know it. She was just ready to be milked! She hopped up on the milking table of her own accord. A loose stanchion keeps her in place so she doesn't fidget too much while being milked. A bucket of mash keeps her entertained for most of the process.
First her teats are cleaned off with a damp cloth.
Then the milking begins, through a strainer into a clean pot.
Once she's milked and her teats stripped (pinched at the top and then thoroughly squeezed to get all of the milk out of the duct), the milk is strained three times through cheesecloth and refrigerated.
We partook of some that had been processed earlier.
Delicious! It didn't taste "goaty" at all, just tasted like really fresh, creamy cow's milk.
I have been very interested in having access to raw goat's and cow's milk, not because I have any ideas about the health benefits of raw milk (which are touted widely), but just because I wanted to try it. I've had raw milk cheese and loved it. If I had a source, I could try making my own cheese or just enjoy it as really good milk. Maybe it's my Wisconsin roots, but I do love milk!
This operation is just getting started, but it seems like a very good start, so once the details are worked out, I'll be happy to call a little bit of Cutie my own.