Why we milk a cow

September 14, 2018

Are you wondering why we milk a cow?   Why not just buy milk from the store? 

During Heidi's dry season, we purchased milk from the store, like the good ol' days.  I remember reaching into the dairy cooler and grabbing a gallon.  It was SO easy.  I didn't have to hike out across the field to collect the cow.  I didn't have to wash her udder.  I didn't have to milk her.  I didn't have to sanitize the milking machine.  I didn't have to lift the heavy canister and pour milk through filters into jars.  Just a simple opening of the door and lifting the milk into my cart.  However, I've learned that usually the easy things aren't always the best things.  Store bought milk is "flat" in flavor and low in versatility.  I can't transform it into butter.  I can't scoop the cream off for coffee.  Cooking with store bought milk is different too-my pancakes aren't as fluffy, the mac n cheese not as creamy.

Why is milk from our cow so special? Because it is raw.  This means it is in its whole form, cream included, and is not pasteurized.   Milk is pasteurized to kill any potential harmful bacteria.  Unfortunately, heating the milk also destroys some of the nutrients found in raw milk.  The history of dairy in America is quite interesting.  I'll spare you all the details but basically it changed from the family owned cow to the large dairies where sanitation became an issue.  I'll bet many of you have parents or grandparents who only knew milk in its raw form (and they never got sick). 

Because the milk has all the cream, it has all the flavor.  Store bought milk is very disappointing after you've had raw milk.  Drinking raw milk does have risks (though you are more likely to get ill from eating lunch meat).  We send our milk out for testing even though it isn't required by law.  We do feed it to our kids, after all. 

So yeah, store bought milk is easy.  But the first day Heidi's milk was ready to drink and I lifted a jar to show our kids they cheered and did a little happy dance to have "Heidi's milk" back on the table.  The smiles that Heidi's milk brings to our family and others is worth all the work.  The ability to transform the raw milk into butter, cheese, ricotta, and more is worth it. 

Guess we'll just have to reward ourselves with cookies for all our hard work!

Rachael Ferguson

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