Real Milk?

Remember all the times I’ve mentioned that we mostly just buy dairy products from the store now? Well that might change. I looked in to a cow share program a while back. I gave it some thought and then put it out of my mind. Then out of the blue the program coordinator e-mailed me again just to make sure that she had indeed responded to my first e-mail (she did). That same week a new intern started at my workplace. We got to talking and it came up that she is part of the same cow share program. Her family loves the milk and doesn’t plan on switching back.

I am still a little leery about the whole thing, to be honest. The milk comes straight out of the bulk tank on the farm. It is from Certified Organic cows. It is not pasteurized. I know there is a huge debate over whether or not pasteurizing is important. I think it is safe to say that if the cows are healthy there is no life-threatening risk involved. Still, there are recommendations that pregnant women not drink unpasteurized milk. God willing, that will apply to me one day (far away). So I have to think there is some risk, however slight. I’m the type to forgo recommendations about raw eggs to indulge in cookie dough. More than once I’ve had horse poop on my hands and eaten at a drive thru without washing them. Asparagus and peas taste best when you’re still standing in the garden. But raw milk? I don’t know.

Anyway, thanks to our intern, I’m drinking a glass of the stuff right now. I just wanted to try it. Really, it doesn’t taste much different. The best way I can describe it is like this: it tastes a little more like warm milk, even when it’s cold. Do you know what I mean? Like it has more flavor or something. I haven’t seen any obvious separation in the carton, just some tiny specks sticking to the edges. I’ve been told that the butterfat content isn’t very high but they’re trying to improve that. I’m going to try making butter to see how it goes.

BTW, I’m thinking home pasteurization would be a perfect compromise, especially if we do get our own cow. I’m not sure that is very practical though. Plus, I think the home pasteurizers I saw were very expensive.

Does anyone have any experience with a cow share program? What are you thoughts on the whole thing? And please, don’t jump my ass with any anti or pro raw milk campaigns. I’m not interested in the debate so much as how this type of thing has worked out for other people and their families. I have a strong desire for dairy products that are healthy and local.


10 thoughts on “Real Milk?

  1. Farmer's Daughter

    I pretty much feel the same way about raw milk as you do.

    On my mom’s side of the family’s dairy farm, they always pasteurized the milk on the woodstove. I believe it was just in a big pot. My grandmother Mema was telling me about it the other day. I could get the details from her, if you want. She raised 5 kids by pasteurizing it herself!

    Also, I’ve heard you can make some great cheeses out of raw milk. Good luck with your new adventure!

  2. Jena

    FD – Good, I’m glad you feel the same way. I would love the details on that method. Thanks for the luck!

  3. Captain's Wife - Jennifer

    I checked out a book a while back about raising cattle and I remember it saying you could pasteurize easily at home, but I can’t remember how. Where do you find these cow share programs at? I’d like to look into one, just to see what they are all about.

  4. Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5

    There’s been quite a few links floating around about canning milk at home – then it’s shelf stable for quite some time. I haven’t tried it as we consume our raw milk so quickly. I’ve made butter and ice cream and we loved both. Haven’t tried yogurt or cheese but it’s on the list – again, we just drink it too fast. I agree, it’s more milky tasting. I say go for it!

  5. Farmer's Daughter

    Yeah, the biology degree makes me wary of not pasteurizing… but if it’s fresh, from a farmer you trust, and you’re not pregnant, you’re probably fine. I just feel better safe than sorry.

  6. Jena

    Jennifer – I found this cow share through Local Harvest. Just search for milk or dairy in your area. I’ve copied in the information I received at the bottom to give a better explanation. Basically, cow shares are a way to get around the laws against selling raw milk in Michigan.

    Melissa – That’s very interesting, I’ve never thought of canning milk. All those foods sound great. I’d love to make homemade ice cream. We found an old ice cream maker in our basement and it still works so we’ll have to try that!

    FD – Lol, I can see how being in that field makes you leery. I’m the same way with education in the veterinary field… I’ve been on the bad side of a good many lectures from vets I’ve worked with after asking their thoughts on raw milk.

    <>Here are the details on the program in my area, taken from the farm brochure:


    Would you like to enjoy the wonderful taste and benefits of fresh unpasteurized milk without the chores?
    Just purchase a share of one of our cows and the chores are on us. That’s right, we’ll do the milking and everything else too. You just need to pick up your milk.

    1 share (20th of cow) @ $150.00 (this is a 1 time fee for the life of the cow) entitles you to approx. 2 gallons of milk per week. The cost of boarding and caring for the cow is $10.00/wk.
    We also offer ½ shares @ $75.00, providing approx. 1 gallon weekly, boarding and care $5.00/week.

    (30 day money back guarantee)

  7. Abutton

    We drank raw milk from our cow for several years, and I loved it! When we first switched back to store-bought milk, I thought it tasted horrible. 🙂

    We never pasteurized the milk. But we did own the cow, and therefore knew exactly what she was eating, if she was healthy, and all that jazz.

    We looked into a home pasteurizer, but, like you said, they are so expensive! I’ve read that you can pasteurize milk on the stove fairly easily, if you have a reliable thermometer and the time to mess with it, but we have never done that.

  8. angie

    Hi Jena,

    I’ve only had it a couple of times, but if I could get it easily, I definitely would. Its got a learning curve associated with it for taste, making yogurt and cheese. My yogurt was less thick with raw milk, but since my affordable source is gone, I haven’t experimented much again. I have a friend that hasn’t had to purchase butter in years.

    A different friend that was in the PeaceCorp for years (she was in Uzbekistan in the early 90s, I think) used to pasteurize her own milk by putting in it a canning jar and boiling it in a pot of water.

    If you trust the farmer and the cows – then I think you are on the right track.

    Good luck – please keep us posted.

  9. Jena

    Abutton & Angie – Thanks so much for input. It is reassuring to hear everyone's experiences. I'd like to do a little more research on pasteurizing the milk and go from there. I'll definitely keep y'all posted!

  10. Everydaywoman

    Sorry I'm late in responding to this post, but I just came across it.

    You left such a nice comment on my 2 sons on tractors and I was showing them Brian's tractor (with the dualies) when he was drilling soybeans/corns b/c they're so into tractors, I knew they'd love to see his equipment!!!

    I grew up on a dairy farm and my Dad swore by "pasteurized" milk, which mean my Mom just heated it up on a big pot on the stove to just about boiling, I think. It formed a skim on the top, which, when cool, she skimmed off. To "homogonize" it, you just shake the bottle! Of course, if she wanted to whip cream, she'd pour that off the top.

    My husband, on the other hand, was also one of 5 kids on a dairy farm and his parents never heated the milk. They always drank it raw and he said they all turned out fine! LOL!

    So, it looks like it's your choice, but if a pregnancy in somewhere in the future, I'd probably err on the side of caution!



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