Thursday, May 08, 2008

Dairy day

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.


  1. make cheese it is easy and delicious...a little lemon juice to curddle and you have a nice fresh farmers cheese...I grew up milking goats

  2. Oh, sorry for the double entry. But as far as making cheese goes, you can order curdled milk from Marczyk foods in Denver. To make it fresh you need an ingredient called Rennet which no place in the Denver metro seems to have (which I've found anyway!). Check out this post I did on my cheese making excursion

  3. oh sad day! I had written you a lengthy original comment and it went away. Oh well, I just wanted to say that I'm glad I found your blog! I'm a local Denver blogger, too. Nice to meet ya!

  4. Yup the fate of the boy goats is one of the main things holding back my goat keeping ambitions

  5. If you garden, goats are also great for the gifts they offer to soil improvement! As to cheese and butter, I made both yesterday and learned several things. First, it takes an enormous amount of milk for very little end-result. Second, the rennet I got from Lehman's several years ago was still good. Yay! Third, it takes quite a long time to prepare mozzarella... mostly because of waiting times between steps. Kind of a PITA. But the taste is wonderful and probably worth all the effort and cost, at least on occasion. Have fun if you try it!

    So the goat's milk is really not goaty tasting, eh? That's what has put me off the cheese.

    Localvores of Colorado

  6. Oh, and I thought I posted this already, but can't find it. Here's the raw milk info for Colorado:

    They have some suppliers listed on the site.

  7. db, I'm definitely going to try it!

    Hi, summer! Thanks for stopping by. I'll check out your blog, too. Thanks for the tip on Marczyk's. I would imagine I could find rennet online?

    It was a fun day, Julie. You should see if there are places like this near you.

    Breezy, I do feel a little bad for the boys, but they are treated very well compared to most of the meat animals in the food industry. I try to be pragmatic about it as a carnivore.

    Dani, thanks for the hints! So many useful resources out there! The milk did not taste goaty, so I imagine the cheese wouldn't be very strong either. It really depends on what they eat.

  8. Hi Kitt,

    I just did a post about making ricotta. I would love to hear how it works with goat's milk!