From our featured contributor Susan at Grow in Grace Farm, on how their Jersey cow share enriches their lives:
What does it take to obtain raw milk from a local pasture raised, grass fed cow in the USA?
A legally drawn up and signed, 2 page contract stating that you own “part” of “Bessie the Bovine”. We own 2 shares of this gentle Jersey (and I like to say we own her face). Just love those big beautiful eyes and her sweet cud breath!
Our good friend, who lives 8 miles from us in the countryside of Virginia, is the one who does all the work. We just drive over and pick up our four mason jars (2 gallons) of fresh raw milk once a week and give her our monthly share payment. Technically, we are giving the farm the money for the cow’s feed, care and upkeep, not in purchasing milk. That is the way in the USA for the privilege of drinking raw, fresh, real milk! What was, in history, always normal and natural, is now illegal in the United States, unless you own the cow. Our family has had the awesome opportunity to get this “nutritious goodness” for the past 7 years now.
From Manhattan to Mayberry
My husband and I and our 7 children moved from the New York suburbs to the Virginia countryside 10 years ago to be able to raise our kids in a more peaceful and healthy environment. We have always loved farms, fresh air and the calming solitude of natural surroundings. Our desire was to buy land to start a farm. Before we had our children (7 kids in 12 years!), we both worked in New York City for 10 years. Those years were both exhilarating and exhausting. I was a Fashion Designer on 7th ave. and he was an Operations Manager in Queens. New York City is an incredible place, but on the weekends we had to get away and get out to be in the peace and solitude of nature. Our families lived at the end of Long Island by the salt water beaches and farmlands. So we restored ourselves by those weekend trips for 10 years.
Once we had our first child, I quit my career to stay at home. We eventually moved from the NYC area to Long Island to raise the kids in a better environment for us. As a young adult, I started to pay attention to healthy eating and lifestyles. While pregnant for the first time, I realized the awesome responsibility of the blessing of this new life of our child growing from day one. I began to look at nutrition in a whole different perspective from before (when young and thinking I was invincible). So began our journey into seeking out real and fresh foods for our family. My husband put in for a job transfer, we packed up the house and kids and moved to the country to start a new life and do our best to grow most of our food.
Got Raw Milk?
Where we now live, we are amongst historical plantation homes and farmlands, many that are on 500-1000 acres. Our 12 ½ is perfect for us now and what can manage. Right away we started a huge organic garden and have spent the years here learning more and more as we grow. Due to trying to live just within our means and by striving to be good stewards of what we own, we do most all things by hand. No tractors or tillers, we utilize no-till farming. Out of necessity, we have been farming that way and then, come to find out, it’s actually one of the best ways. You can learn more about this method in the free online film “Back to Eden” and in “One Straw Revolution”.
For now we are a “food farm”, but are getting prepped for sheep and ducks. As far as having a cow here, I am not ready yet to deal with the twice a day milking and all of the other work involved. As much as I love being grounded to the land, I also have a terrible wanderlust and want to travel a lot with my family! So the cow share is best for us now. With the raw milk (cow and goat), we make fresh butter, cheese and yogurt.
Having the cow share is a rare treat in America and we are so grateful to be able to raise our family on it. Non- pasteurized or homogenized, it is a pure food that has incredible health benefits. We love it the way God intended it, straight from the udder! Not adulterated (heated, which in turn destroys the good enzymes) and pulverized (homogenized, busting up the fat cells that are meant to stay intact). As long as we possibly can, we will drink and use raw, grass fed cow’s milk. You can read up more on the history and benefits of raw milk from the Weston A. Price Foundation, Sally Fallon’s “ Nourishing Traditions” and Nina Planck’s “ Real Food, What to Eat and Why”.
Lunching with Lunatic Farmers and the Politics of Food
From the films “Food Inc.”and “Fresh”, you may know of Joel Salatin. His farm, Polyface, is about 2 hours from us and is located in the Shenandoah Mountain region. He and his family raise cattle, poultry, and rabbits using methods that copy the patterns of the wild. We are in a farming group with him and learn by spending time with him and on his farm. Through all of the wisdom we have gleaned from all of the country farmers, we have been able to apply the techniques to our land, diet and lifestyle.
This community we are a part of, works together to share knowledge and lend a helping hand in many aspects. Within 10 miles we are able to procure our meats, eggs, and milk from pasture raised cows, poultry and goats. Our wild meats come from the hunters who give us venison, turkey and fish. We grow most all of our fruits, vegetables and herbs. Honey and bee pollen, wheat berries that we grind for flour to make fresh bread, mineral rich well water, homemade soap, mayo and mustard making…all of these things we have access to or create ourselves. We are also involved on the political end to fight for our farming and food freedom rights. From lobbying at the General Assembly to meeting with legislators to help have a Bill passed (or not) at our nation’s Capital, we try our best to win back some of the ways of life in the founding of our country.
Sharing and Caring
Our diets are not perfect, and we have much more to learn. But we try our best and love to share what we know so far with others. Through a local food outreach that we volunteer for, we are able to deliver healthy food to those in need and teach them about making good choices for their well-being. As a family we are grateful to be able to home educate, grow our own food, be vested in our community, have freedom in our faith and live in a free nation (for now!). A far cry from Manhattan for sure, but we are happy to live this way now and are looking forward to learning and growing more.
Do you drink raw milk? Would you consider joining a cow share if there was one in your area?