Is Raw Milk Dangerous?

Is raw milk dangerous is a question that many are asking. There is a surge in desire for this luscious and nutritious food – but what about all of the horrible stories of tragedies and loss connected with consuming raw milk? That’s our topic of the day.

But first, I want to welcome everyone who is a new listener. I hope you enjoy this content. And as always, a heart-felt welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast every week. I appreciate you all so much. There is no show without you and your input. There is a lot of exciting news to share with you about what is going on at the farm this week. So, let’s get to it.

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • Is Raw Milk Dangerous?
  • Lamb Chops with Balsamic Reduction

Homestead Life Updates

We had quite the scare last night. All of a sudden, we had no water. Scott went to the tap, turned it on, and only a dribble came out. Less than two hours earlier I remembered filling my water glass with no issues. He immediately went out to check on the water hoses. We have quite of few of them attached at the pump that bring water to various areas of the homestead. Some go to the animals and one goes to the garden. I think there may be one in the orchard. At least one other is attached to the house. These are the usual culprits. One of them will burst or a coupling disintegrates and falls apart spewing gallons and gallons of water everywhere. If we don’t notice right away, the well can temporarily go dry.

In this case, Scott checked all of the hoses and didn’t find any issues. He turned them off anyway. The next plan was to replace the breaker for the well pump. It is on its own 220 circuit. However, some time during the night the water returned. We are grateful. It was an interesting experience.

Usually when we don’t have water it is because the power if off. Habitually I would want to turn on the water and had to remind myself that we had none. When we have no power, it’s easy to remember we also have no water. It was a really strange brain thing.

Let me give you an update on the animals.

The Quail

We have 6 baby quail in the brooder at the moment. There were originally 8 but we lost two. This particular batch of eggs was not very fertile. As the amount of light diminishes each day due to the changing of the seasons, the number of eggs laid and their fertility drops dramatically. I knew it would drop. However, the amount that it dropped was astounding to me. I expected the loss of egg production, not so much the lack of fertility. So often, even though we’ve read up on a topic and have the proper information, it is not until we go outside those boundaries ourselves do we realize the truth of the information. 

Back in the summer, we had 8 or 9 laying hens that were producing about 7 eggs per day. Not bad. That’s nearly one per day for each hen. That’s typical. A little over a month ago we added a new batch of young hens to the mix. They were about 8 weeks old and at the age to start laying eggs. Our daily haul should have increased. Unfortunately, this was also about the time that the light started really diminishing. At the present time having increased the laying hens to 15 laying hens, we are getting 1 egg every day or so. That’s what I call a dramatic drop in egg production. It will continue all winter unless we add some light for them. We have a plan there. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Cows

Cloud is still pregnant. Her belly is very big in circumference, but there is no way of knowing how far along she is unless we get a vet out here. A woman can start to “show” in the 4th or 5th month, it begins to be impossible to miss that she is pregnant at 6 months and the 7th through 9th month is where stretch marks are developed because of the rapid growth in the size of your baby. With cows, the late development of size and weight of the fetus is even more prominent. While a calf fetus is continually growing in size throughout the pregnancy, it is slow in the beginning. Over 75% of the calf’s total weight gain and growth takes place in the last trimester. And like human women, that is in month 7 through 9. A cow’s gestation cycle averages 283 days. I’m guessing that Cloud is in her last month at this point. I could be wrong but that is my best guess.

In any case, we are ready in the milking parlor. She is now trained to come in and stand quietly while we wash and clean her udder like we would any other cow. The only thing she is not experiencing at the point is the actual inflations on her teats. She has heard the sound of the machine over and over many times. We do not anticipate big problems when the event does eventually take place.

The Sheep, Goats, and Donkeys

The sheep, goats and donkeys are doing well. The goats go into any grazing paddock that they choose – no matter the fencing structure. They are goats. Respecting fences is not part of their nature. Thank goodness at this point, while they move between divided paddocks, they at least stay within the perimeter fencing. I should probably knock on wood with that statement.

The sheep are plugging along. Let us know if you are interested in grass-fed and finished lamb. We are just about ready to take a few for processing. Holiday season is upon us and lamb is a religious tradition for lots of folks. Again, let us know. You can visit the website at peacefulheartfarm.com/store or send us an email (melanie@peacefulheartfarm.com).

The donkeys are growing their winter coat and putting on some winter fat. They are the friendliest animals on the farm. I hope you get to come out and see them some time.

The Creamery

The inner walls are rising out of the dust. It won’t be long now. Scott has laid the bottom row of the remaining walls. Two or three more weeks and they will be complete. It will be a building with walls and no roof. Is winter the best time to build a roof? I don’t know I’ll have to ask Scott. I’m just so excited to see these walls. The rooms are now defined. 

In the spring perhaps we will be able to milk the cows in the new barn and milking parlor. That will be a treat. Milking is such a peaceful time and the milk produced is so nutritious and delicious. And the cheese… yum, yum.

Is Raw Milk Dangerous?

This is a question I think everyone who consumes raw milk has asked themselves or others. We know the reality is that we have been drinking milk straight from the cow for thousands of years. But in September 1987 it became federal law that any milk transported across state lines must be pasteurized. Intrastate sales then and now are still regulated by the individual states. I’ve talked a bit about this in a couple of previous podcasts. Depending on the particular State, there are various legal ways to obtain raw for your family.

There has been – and indeed continues to be – quite the scare campaign surrounding the consumption of milk straight from the cow. Each person will have to decide for themselves what is best for them. I make no judgements and everyone knows I love it. In fact, I love it so much that it can become a problem for my waistline. But let’s get to the studies and the data and see what we can see.

The Studies and the Headlines

In February 2012, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) published a study targeting raw milk as dangerous and unsafe for human consumption. The media hype surrounding it was typical. Fearful headlines that get clicks and sell papers were seen. Here are some examples:

“Raw Milk Causes Most Illnesses from Dairy, Study Finds.” – USA Today

“CDC: Raw Milk Much More Likely to Cause Illness.” – Food Safety News

“Raw Milk is a Raw Deal, CDC Says.” – LiveScience

Two of these headlines are technically accurate – raw milk is responsible for more illnesses than pasteurized milk when the number of people who consume each is taken into account. The problem begins with the dramatic overstatements and sensationalism of the findings. Every food we consume comes with risks. But for most, we never even think about it until we see the news article about the recall of spinach, beef or some other product we have in our refrigerator.

If you only saw the headlines from the CDC and FDA reports, you’d be left with the impression that raw milk is a dangerous food and anyone that consumes it or gives it to their children is reckless and irresponsible. In this podcast, I’ll present the other side of the argument, and give you the bare facts as I see them. I can’t say I am without bias but I will endeavor to convey the information without dramatic hyperbole so you can make an informed decision about whether unpasteurized milk is a good choice for you and your family.

I’m not here to convince you to drink raw milk.  Again, that’s a decision each individual has to make on their own by weighing the potential risks against the potential benefits. This podcast will cover the risks and another will focus on the benefits.

Gaining Perspective

Let’s start with putting the current discussion of unpasteurized milk safety into a wider context. Foodborne illness is a concern for many types of food. In 2008 the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) performed a review of foodborne disease outbreaks in the U.S. Seafood, produce and poultry were associated with the most outbreaks. Produce is responsible for the greatest number of illnesses each year (2,062), with nearly twice as many illnesses as poultry (1,112). Dairy products are at the bottom of the list. They cause the fewest outbreaks and illnesses of all the major food categories – beef, eggs, poultry, produce and seafood.

According to the CDC, during the period from 1990 − 2006, there were 24,000 foodborne illnesses reported each year on average. Of those, 315 per year are from dairy products. This means dairy products account for about 1.3% of foodborne illnesses each year. That’s not exactly an alarming number, considering that more than 75% of the population consumes dairy products regularly.

It’s also important to note that the outbreaks and illnesses associated with dairy products are generally mild compared to other foods.

According to the CSPI report above, approximately 5,000 people are killed every year by foodborne illness. From 2009 − 2011, three high profile outbreaks involving peanuts, eggs and cantaloupe alone accounted for 2,729 illnesses and 39 deaths. (1) Yet there have only been a handful of deaths from pasteurized dairy products in the last decade, and there hasn’t been a single death attributed to raw fluid milk since the mid-1980s, in spite of the fact that almost 10 million people are now consuming it regularly.

The takeaway is that thousands of people are killed each year by foodborne illness, but they’re dying from eating fruits, nuts, eggs, meat, poultry, fish and shellfish – not from drinking unpasteurized milk.

The CDC report Sensationalized

The data in these studies will always be suspect in my mind. An “illness” in these data can mean everything from an upset stomach to mild diarrhea to hospitalization for serious disease. Most food borne illnesses go unreported and one of the reasons is that they are only a passing nuisance.

Have you ever had a bout of diarrhea that you suspect was caused by something you ate? I have. Did you report it to your doctor or the county public health department?  Probably not. I didn’t. It was over in less than 24 hours and I simply vowed not to purchase spinach from Walmart ever again.

The statistic I am most concerned with is hospitalizations for serious illnesses. Kidney failure and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) caused by unpasteurized milk does happen, and children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable and more likely to suffer.  That said, hospitalizations from raw milk are extremely rare.  During the 2000 − 2007 period of the referenced study, there were 12 hospitalizations for illnesses associated with raw fluid milk. That’s an average of 1.5 per year. If approximately 9.4 million people are drinking raw milk, that would mean you have about a 1 in 6 million chance of being hospitalized from drinking raw milk.

To add to the perspective, your chances of dying in a motor vehicle accident are 750 times higher than your chances of becoming hospitalized from drinking raw milk.

Raw Milk Risk Compared to Other foods

According to the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly (MMWR), from 2006 − 2008 there were an average of 13 outbreaks and 291 illnesses per year associated with shellfish and mollusks. According to the CDC FoodNet Survey, about 5.7% of the population (17,869,500) consumes shellfish. This means you had a roughly 1 in 61,000 chance of becoming ill from eating shellfish

What about other more commonly eaten foods?  I’ll use a chart from the CSPI report I referenced earlier. The chart will be in the show notes. This document charts the relative incidence of various foodborne illnesses from 1999 – 2006, adjusted for consumption.

Results:

  • Seafood caused 29 times more illnesses than dairy
  • Poultry caused 15 times more illnesses than dairy
  • Eggs caused 13 times more illnesses than dairy
  • Beef caused 11 times more illnesses than dairy
  • Pork caused 8 times more illnesses than dairy
  • Produce caused 4 times more illnesses than dairy

What this chart clearly shows is that dairy just might be at the bottom of your list of your concerns regarding foodborne illness.

I hope this helps you better understand the risk of drinking unpasteurized milk within the context of other risks that most of us take on a daily basis without a second thought.

Lamb Chops with Balsamic Reduction

This recipe for lamb chops is a favorite on our homestead. The title sound fancy but it is an easy and quick recipe for two people (we eat two chops each). Rosemary, basil and thyme give it great flavor.

What You Need

Chops:

  • 4 lamb chops (3/4” thick)
  • 3/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup minced shallots (or onions)
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup lamb (or chicken) broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter

What To Do

  1. In a small bowl or cup mix the rosemary, basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Rub onto both sides of the chops. Cover on a plate for 15 minutes.
  2. Heat cooking oil on medium high. Place chops in skillet, and cook for about 3 ½ minutes per side for medium rare. Remove from skillet and keep warm.
  3. Add shallot (or onions) to skillet and cook until browned. Stir in balsamic vinegar, scraping pan drippings from the bottom of skillet.
  4. Stir in broth. Continue to cook and stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until sauce has reduced by half.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the butter.
  6. Pour sauce over chops and serve.

Notes

  • Try substituting red wine or red wine vinegar for the balsamic vinegar.
  • Doubling the recipe more than doubles the amount of time to reduce the sauce.

Final Thoughts

Again, we have lambs coming available soon. Get on the waiting list now. Shameless plug there. We love our animals and they receive the best life possible. Stay tuned for updates on Cloud and her impending delivery and the progress of the creamery.

Is raw milk dangerous? Remember, it’s your choice whether you consume raw milk and/or raw milk products. It’s hard with all of the negative press out there on just about every food available and raw milk more so than others. I hope I’ve provided a balance to some of the sensationalized information regularly regurgitated. Consuming any food is a risk. But how much? How much risk do we already tolerate on a daily basis that is not related to raw milk dairy?

If you enjoyed this podcast, please go to Apple Podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and give me a 5-star rating and review. And the best way to help out this show is to share it with any friends or family who might be interested in this type of content.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

References

Recipe Link

Lambs Chops with Balsamic Reduction

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Homemade Whey Protein

Today I’m talking all about homemade whey protein. What it is, how it might benefit your health, and how you might use it. Whey protein is a traditional food that has sustained humanity since the milking of domesticated animals began about 9,000 bc.

Before I get to far into today’s topic, as always, I want to take a minute to say welcome to all my new listeners and welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars. Thank you so much for stopping by the FarmCast every week. I appreciate you all so much. I can’t wait to get to today’s topic. It has been whey too long in making it to the top of the list of topics.

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • Homemade Whey Protein
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake

Homestead Life Updates

There is never a dull moment.

Cows

Can you believe it? We are going to have another calf. I don’t really know when, I just know a very pregnant cow when I see one. We were sure Cloud was not going to have a calf. After all, the other calves were all born in April and May. Egwene, the jersey calf, was the last born and that was May 11th. Here we are five months later, possibly six months before the calf is born, getting ready for another calf to be born. We haven’t had a fall calf in some time. It will be yet another learning experience on the homestead.

I think it is time for the bull to go back to play with the other two bulls in the front field. This is the normal way to control when calves are born. The cow can’t get pregnant five or six months after everyone else if there is no bull there to impregnate her. It is a common practice to control calving season to remove the bull after two months or so. We have let it go on for three. Just when you think you have the thing of managing your livestock down pat and there can be no more to learn, you realize there is always more to learn.

Quail

The quail aren’t laying very many eggs at this point. They are eating and not producing. The most likely issue is the reduction of the amount of light. They need about 14 hours of light to consistently produce nearly an egg every day. Without that, we are lucky to get an egg once a week. There are artificial lights that we can install so they will be able to make their eggs regularly. However, that would require taking time away from other tasks to make it happen.

Creamery

Amidst all the animal husbandry, Scott is moving forward with the creamery. He is racing the season to get all of the blocks in place while it is still warm enough for the cement and/or mortar to set up properly. Along the way, the wood for winter heat is not be cut. He feels these tasks weighing on him. There is always more to do than hours to accomplish it. However, it will all get done in the end.

Sometimes I think we make ourselves worry just for the exhilaration of having stress and pressure. Sounds crazy, right? Why would anyone intentionally create stress in their lives. Well, I’m not saying we intentionally create stress in our lives. Life is very stressful all on its own. But I am saying that sometimes we create additional stress that is unnecessary. And I am speaking for myself here. There is a compulsive way of thinking that permeates my brain sometimes that is unhealthy in regards to stress. I find myself thinking, “I have to do this” and “I have to do that” and “it has to be done by this time or that time” or else . . . or else what? What disaster is it that will happen if I get the laundry done a day later than I had on my schedule. How will my world come crumbling down around me if I plan to cook a great dinner and end up too tired to pull it off. We will still eat – and we will eat well. It’s crazy. Do you ever have thoughts like that?

When I catch myself thinking that way, I stop and take a deep breath and remind myself that all is well in this moment. I get out of my head and come back to my body and look around me. I see the sunshine. I smell the fresh air. I feel the cool breeze on my face. I hear the animals all doing their thing. The donkeys are braying. The geese are honking. The cows are mooing. The sheep and goats are baaing. I have to slow down and smell the roses every once in a while. Being in the present moment brings peace in a chaotic world. In fact, the chaos disappears in the present moment.

Now that you have some great ideas about bringing peace into your lives, let me move on to adding some sound nutrition information. It has to do with adding protein to your diet via whey.

Homemade Whey Protein

As I said, today I’m talking all about whey protein. But not that powdered stuff you buy at Walmart. No, I’m talking about traditional homemade whey protein. What it is, how it might benefit your health, and how you might use it in your healthy diet.

What is whey? Remember the nursery rhyme describing Little Miss Muffet eating her curds and whey? Have you seen the body-building enthusiasts with their plastic containers of whey protein shakes? What about the diet gurus and their protein shakes? Whey is the health food at the center of each. Some people talk about liquid whey. Some are talking about whey in the form of powders, hydrolysates, isolates or concentrates; there is sweet whey, acid whey, chocolate whey, strawberry whey, goat whey, mineral whey…it is all very exciting! So, in the midst of all this whey hype, how about looking at what real whey is? That wonderful, nutritious, whole food that has been consumed by traditional cultures for thousands of years.

Traditional Dairy Culture

Most people today think of dairy as plain, white, unfermented milk. Remember the commercial, “Got Milk?” with someone sporting a white mustache after drinking a tall glass of the cold creamy stuff. This has not always been the case. Before the industrialized practices of refrigeration and pasteurization became commonplace, many people enjoyed their milk products soured or fermented in the forms of yogurt, cheese, kefir, clabber, creme fraiche, or curds and whey. I’ve discussed most of these products in previous episodes.

When left out to sour or when cultured with friendly lactic-acid-producing bacteria, raw milk undergoes a process of fermentation wherein the bacteria start to digest or break down the milk sugars (lactose) and milk proteins (casein).Through this process, there is a natural separation of firm white globs of curds from the liquid whey portion of the milk. These white curds are the casein-containing portion of the milk, which are further fermented and processed into cheeses. The remaining tart liquid is whey.

Commercial Whey Protein

Whey has been used in traditional cuisine for centuries, and was known by Greek doctors as “healing water” for its strength-building properties. Today however, whey is considered a waste product of the cheese and yogurt industries. Many small cheese makers struggle with what to do with it. The wildly popular Greek yogurt industry makes a lot of whey. Plain yogurt contains all of the whey from the milk, but the thickness of Greek yogurt is achieved by straining out some of the whey. The larger Greek yogurt producers have been under scrutiny from environmental agencies for the gallons upon gallons of “whey waste” that they must get rid of after processing their strained yogurt products. For every four pounds of milk, only one pound of Greek yogurt is made, and the rest is a mixture of whey, chemicals and other acidic byproducts.

The cheese and yogurt industries drowning in whey scrambled to figure out just what to do with all of this tangy liquid. They found an outlet in the sports nutrition industry where leftover whey is being powdered, flavored and marketed as a muscle-building, energy-boosting supplement. Sounds like a very solid plan, except for the fact that the whey from big industry is truly waste. The milk is exposed to high heat pasteurization and subject to several acid baths. Any potentially beneficial nutrients are obliterated and mingled with nasty toxins during production.

Supplement companies have tried to “purify” their products by isolating different parts of the protein portion of the whey. So you get many different formulations on the market such as isolates, hydrosylates, concentrates, etc. This additional fractioning subjects the already destroyed whey to even more sketchy chemical processes and eliminates co-factors, rendering any possible remaining nutrients completely un-bioavailable. So despite the luring claims on those big black tubs of peanut-butter chocolate whey protein, these commercial powders are questionable as to their ability to help your body get stronger.

Traditional Whey Protein Nutrition

When made properly in small batches from cultured dairy, whey has incredibly unique healing properties. Rich with biologically active proteins and protein fractions, it has a high concentration of essential amino acids that are readily used to support vital biological functions in the body. Among these beneficial factors is:

  • Lactoferrin, a multifunctional protein with iron-binding properties that acts as a powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory
  • Bovine serum albumin (BSA), a substance high in amino acids that has been shown to support infection-fighting white blood cells, increase antioxidant activity and maintain healthy cholesterol levels in the body
  • Immunoglobulins to support disease control by bolstering immunity
  • Probiotic organisms to promote optimal digestion and full nutrient absorption by balancing the gut flora
  • Essential amino acids in a highly bioavailable form to act as building blocks for proteins
  • Glutathione precursors, to boost production of the body’s most powerful antioxidant
  • Minerals such as potassium, iron and zinc are available in balanced amounts
  • Vitamins notably vitamin B2 or riboflavin which helps the body to convert carbohydrates into fuel

How much protein is there in homemade whey protein?

1/2 cup = 15 grams.

1 cup = 30 grams.

If you are interested in obtaining homemade whey, let me know. As cheesemakers, we have lots of it. Most of it will go to our animals, supplementing their protein needs, but there will still be plenty for your needs should you request it.

Homemade whey has many uses including making lacto-fermented vegetables, condiments or beverages; soaking and sprouting nuts or grains; or as an additive to smoothies, sauces and stocks.

It’s no surprise that today’s recipe uses homemade whey protein. Let’s get to it.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake

There are tons of protein shake recipes out there, but if you love that chocolate and peanut butter combo, a chocolate peanut butter protein shake is a great way to curb the craving without reaching for the cookies or peanut butter cups.

This chocolate peanut butter protein shake can be whipped up in your blender or smoothie maker in no time. It is packed with protein to keep you full, satisfied, and healthy.

What You Need

  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup homemade whey protein
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)

What To Do

  1. Blend all ingredients for 30 seconds
  2. Serve

Nutritional Facts

  • Calories, 465
  • Protein, 43 g
  • Carbohydrates, 39 g
  • Fats, 17 g

Final Thoughts

I trust your life is filled with activities and that you remember to stop and smell the roses occasionally. This is an absolutely beautiful time of year. Take the time to let it seep into your bones and your being. Your health is your greatest asset.

Homemade whey can be a part of your healthy diet. It’s a traditional food that strengthened our ancestors and ensured our survival – then and now.

Let me know how that whey protein shake works for you. What variations did you try? Drop me an email, or better yet, comment below the show notes.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please hop over to Apple Podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and give me a 5-star rating and review. Tell everyone how wonderful homemade whey protein is. And the best thing you can do for my podcast is to share it with any friends or family who might be interested in this type of content.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

 

Recipe Link

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake

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Why is Raw Milk So Hard to Find?

People are looking for raw milk but why is raw milk so hard to find? That’s the topic of today’s podcast. It’s a complicated topic and I’ll break it down into three categories as well as make suggestions regarding what you can do about it.

I’m very excited about today’s topic. Raw milk is a passion of mine. I hope all of you who are new listeners will enjoy this podcast. I appreciate your stopping by and welcome your feedback. And a warm welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast every week. I appreciate you all so much. This podcast is for you. Let me know what you’d like to hear and I will make it happen.

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • Why is Raw Milk so Hard to Find?
  • Hot Buttered Rum Mix

Homestead Life Updates

Will the heat never end? I think I’ve said this before, but I really don’t like the extremes of summer and winter. The cold seems to hang on forever in winter and the heat seems to hang on forever in summer. I’m so ready for fall. I’m ready for the leaves to turn.

Fall in the Blue Ridge Mountains is glorious. The Weather Channel usually has a map that shows the progress of the leaves starting in upstate New Hampshire and Vermont and progressing all the way down the Appalachian Mountain chain to Alabama. It’s a big tourist time for us. Lots of fall festivals and activities are planned. We were able to attend a dairy livestock show in Stuart, Virginia (our county seat) that is heralded as one of the best in the state.

I have only a couple of updates on the Homestead. Today, Egwene, our 4 ½ month old Jersey heifer calf left our farm bound for a new home. I’m on pins and needles waiting to hear that she arrived safely. She is traveling all the way to New York. Her new owner seems very conscientious and I believe she will be in good hands.

All four outside concrete block walls of the creamery are now complete. Next the inside concrete block walls, then the roof, plumbing, electrical, and gas. There will be inside walls and tile flooring. The windows and doors. So much to do. We take one step at a time and gradually the destination comes closer.

On to today’s topic.

Why Is Raw Milk So Hard to Find?

The reasons are varied but seem to revolve around three things.

  1. It’s illegal in many places
  2. The risk of being on the radar of the USDA and/or FDA
  3. Legal ramifications if you are targeted

I’ll also go over what you can do to help. But first, the reasons.

It’s illegal in many places

I’ve spoken of this before. I’ll do a recap of that information. Why it is illegal is another great question and a subject for another podcast.

Today I want to talk about what’s legal and what’s not. And I also want to discuss how that affects your access, the consumer. The laws affect your ability to make your own informed choices about what you will feed your family.

My grand nephew has problems with psoriasis that is relieved by drinking raw milk. I’ve had people tell me their body aches were lessened by drinking raw milk. Some children unable to drink pasteurized milk are perfectly fine with raw milk.

I was contacted recently by someone interested in our herd share program. I was shocked to hear her say that her doctor told her that her daughter could drink raw milk. Most doctors tow the establishment line and don’t make any waves. Most often they tell you that your child will die from drinking raw milk. And sure, that’s great that the doctor said it’s okay, but where is she supposed to get that milk? Is everyone reduced to buying their own cow? That’s simply not practical.

In only 12 out of 51 states and Washington DC can she just walk into the grocery store and buy raw milk for her child.

If you don’t live in one of those 12 states, your options are already limited. The next easiest option is buying it directly from the farm. That is legal in 15 states. Can’t sell it in the grocery store but it can be purchased from your local farmer – if you can find one. They don’t do a lot of advertising. More on that later. The next level of navigating this intrusion into your right to choose the food you want for your family is the herd share agreement. That’s what we have here in Virginia and also in 10 other states. In four states, if the milk is labeled as “pet milk”, you might be able to get your hands on it. And the final blow to those who live in the last 9 states is they are barred from purchasing any raw milk. No pet exemption. No herd shares. Those folks have to travel to another state.

Those are the last numbers I have. It may or may not be completely accurate. Political activity to change the laws is always going on – both for and against your right to choose the food for your family. And it goes beyond milk. So many of you also want yogurt, butter, cream, cream cheese and so on.

The bottom line is that many of us want to make lifestyle choices that include traditional ways of eating. Unfortunately, when it comes to getting your milk straight from the cow the way Mother Nature made it, the government gets between you and your right to choose.

The Risk of Being on the Radar of the USDA and/or FDA

For small farms like ours, it’s best to remain low key. Aggressive advertising campaigns can bring unwanted attention from government officials as well as the original intent to serve more customers. Instead, we rely on small, personal interactions and word-of-mouth.

Many times, people get into positions of power over others and, for whatever reason, they abuse it. Not all, of course. And not even a majority. But our contacts with other small farmers and farm organizations have kept us informed of the atmosphere that sometimes surrounds official inspection personnel. Even if you are following every regulation to the letter, they can find ways to make your life unbearable.

For small farmers like us, the risk of showing up negatively on the radar of USDA officials or the FDA can be catastrophic. We are blessed to have a great relationship with our local VDACS/USDA dairy inspector. At least as far as I know we do. From the beginning we have done everything he has asked without complaint. We have shown him respect and he seems to have the same respect for us and what we are about in building this creamery. There is no need for additional interactions with USDA and/or FDA officials. Those tend to be the worst when it comes to wielding power over others. At least from what I’ve read that is the case. Relationships with more local people are always preferable.

And if you happen to get on their radar for a legitimate problem (quickly corrected), you are forever in their sites. It is statistically plausible that during the life of every business mistakes that require quick action and procedural correction are going to occur. To illustrate I’ll tell a short story without names.

A small dairy, operating for 15 or 20 years, had a problem with one of their cheeses. The problem was that one of their cheeses tested high for a particular bacterium. Being conscientious business owners, they had all of the procedures in place to track down where their cheese went and got it all recalled. They do a lot of wholesale, so there was a lot of it out there. Even small batch cheese can end up being hundreds of pounds of cheese distributed all over the country.

In the end, no one was made ill. The recall was not initiated because of illness. Again, it was a cheese that failed a test conducted at regular intervals to ensure the safety of the cheese. The recall was a preventative measure. I can’t stress this enough. Even if a cheese fails a test, that does not mean that anyone will ever get sick from consuming it. This number or that number was high – the statistical possibility that the “bad” bacteria would grow was higher. Contrast that with all of the folks who are made ill – or worse die – from consuming contaminated spinach, lettuce, cantaloupe and factory farmed beef. Those recalls generally happen after many have become ill and/or someone has died. That is not the case with cheese. We catch it long before it becomes a problem. Regulations for testing are strict. Perhaps that’s why dairy products, raw and pasteurized, only make up 4% of reported food borne illnesses.

Anyway, the FDA got involved because of the recall. Now that this small dairy is on the FDA radar, regularly scheduled visits are common. Worse are the surprise visits. The agents hover with their virtual clipboards in hand, watching every move. Their eyes are begging you to make a mistake. As you can imagine, many times there are no moves until they leave. When someone is examining your every action with a fine-toothed comb, sure that you are violating some statute, it is best to give them as little ammo as possible.

And once you are on the radar, it continues. Where once you never saw anyone from the FDA, now it is a continuing possibility that will appear and make demands. Excessive amounts of cheese are tested. The agents truly spend an inordinate amount of time trying to find another problem. And perhaps this all sounds okay to you. Perhaps it sounds necessary. But for us, it is life or death for our business. We don’t want to take chances on someone with power having a bad day and looking to us as an outlet for their frustration or anger. Our number one goal is to make sure our cheese and other raw milk products are perfect in every way and to never wind up in the sites of a federal agency.  

The Financial and Legal Ramifications If You Are Targeted

As a small farmer I can tell you, our operation may not have survived this kind of intrusion and scrutiny. Testing every single batch of cheese made and multiple wheels from that batch? That would be disaster for us. Some of our batches are single wheels. Usually no batch produces more than 3 wheels. If we had to send in one from every batch – well you begin to see the problem.

The cost would be prohibitive. Testing that many cheeses would cost us 1/3 or more of our product intended for revenue. Due to information we have received from other farmers, we send our required to tests to VDACS and another to a third party. There are stories of small farmers having one bad test after another from their official USDA testing while the same milk tests fine via third party. Another result of getting on their radar. Additional tests cost money, but that is the cost of doing business in the dairy industry.

What You Can Do

I don’t want to sound all negative about this. Yes, today it is hard to find raw milk and raw milk products. There are reasons that these laws were put in place. Some are legitimate, though the knee-jerk response was harsh, and some are not legitimate. Some of the reasons are political and driven by the dairy lobby. As I said, I will cover that in another podcast.

For now, this is what we have to work with and we are happy with our current situation. The laws in the state of Virginia allow us to help you by offering part of our herd to consumers. Access to raw milk and raw milk products is there for you. It is a bit inconvenient, but the health benefits of raw milk products are worth it. The demand for raw milk and raw milk products is growing by leaps and bounds. We are working to expand the availability of raw milk products and you can help too. But the laws are always under attack and pressure to be made stricter. While North Carolina just expanded their availability by allowing herd shares, other states and moving to restrict access and outlaw herd shares.

One organization that helps farmers and consumers with many problems – access to raw milk being only one of them, though a large part of their focus, is the Farm to Consumer Organization. You can support them financially by becoming a member. Additionally, you can be on their mailing list and be informed about legislation that affects raw milk as well as other legal challenges that small farmers face.

Be Active in Your Quest for Raw Milk Products

There is one raw milk product that is available in the state of Virginia. No Yogurt, butter, or fresh cheese such as cream cheese. No not those. Only raw milk cheese can be legally sold to the public. The cheese must be aged greater than 60 days. For us, and most others, this is not a problem. None of our cheeses are worth a darn before 90 days, well beyond their 60-day minimum. Most of our cheeses are aged at least 6 months before they reach maturity. And they just get better from there. There are no other raw milk products that can be sold in the state of Virginia. Again, it’s the herd share program that gives you access to products such as yogurt, butter, cream and fresh cheeses like mozzarella or cream cheese.

Last year there was a bill on the floor in Virginia that would have allowed an exemption for private homes to make yogurt to sell at farmer’s markets. This would have been similar to the current law that exempts baked goods that don’t require time or temperature control after preparation. There are a lot of do’s and don’ts and a limit to the dollar amount of gross sales. There were similar provisions in the bill to open the market to yogurt. Anyway, not enough people showed up in support of the bill and it failed to pass.

Another organization in Virginia is VICFA – that is Virginia Independent Consumer and Farmers Association. They have an “action alert” registration form on their website. I’ll put links to both of these organizations in the show notes. Or you can look them up online. That’s Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Organization and VICFA, Virginia Independent Consumer and Farmer’s Association. Both are fighting for your right to choose raw milk products for your family.

Hot Buttered Rum Mix

This is a rich and delicious beverage. It can be made with or without alcohol so everyone can enjoy it! This is as large recipe that makes 52 servings. No problem though. It is a mix that stores well in the freezer.

What You Need to Make the Mix

  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 3 ¾ cups 10x powdered sugar
  • 2 ¼ cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 quarts vanilla ice cream, softened

What You Need to Make a Serving

  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons rum or brandy (optional)
  • Ground cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
  • ¼ cup butter mixture

What to Do to Make the Mix

  1. Cream butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in vanilla and ice cream.
  2. Fill freezer containers. Store in freezer until needed.

What to Do to Make a Serving

  1. Place ¼ cup butter mixture in a 10 or 12-ounce mug.
  2. Stir in boiling water and rum.
  3. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg to taste.

Final Thoughts

That’s it for today’s FarmCast. I hope your plans for the fall season are coming to fruition. It’s a lovely time of year to enjoy life.

I know that for most people it’s hard to find raw milk today. But remember, that you can help by becoming informed, involved and invested in the laws in your state. You can make a difference. We have a right to choose the food and nutritional program we think best for ourselves and our families. Stand up and let your voice be heard. And let others know about our herd share program. Also, we’d love to hear from you. What raw milk product piques your interest? Maybe if there is a demand, we can add it to our list of services provided for our herd share owners.

Let me know how you and your family like that Buttered Rum drink. Try it with our raw milk butter. You’ll be glad you did.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please hop over to Apple Podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and give me a 5-star rating and review. Also, please share it with any friends or family who might be interested in this type of content.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

References

Recipe Link

Hot Buttered Rum

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How Long Should Raw Milk Last?

Have you asked yourself the question, “How long should raw milk last?” It’s a good question and I’ll address it today, and provide a great ice cream base recipe. You won’t have to worry about the cream lasting a long time. Your cream won’t last long because the ice cream recipe uses it up. Homemade ice cream is the perfect complement to an early autumn day that feels like summer is still hanging on.

Welcome new listeners and welcome back veteran homestead-loving regulars. I appreciate you stopping by the FarmCast every week. There wouldn’t be a show without you. Are you ready to get to it? Let’s go.

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • How Long Should Raw Milk Last?
  • Ice Cream Base Recipe

Homestead Life Updates

Garden

The garden is done. Well, there are a few sweet potatoes to be dug up, but other than that, it’s all gone. Whew. Now we can rest until the spring. Well, not quite. There are clean up tasks and winter preparation of the beds, adding compost to improve the soil over the winter and covering the beds to keep the moisture in and the weeds out.

Quail

We are ready for another batch of quail eggs in the incubator. Not so many as last time. Due to the reduction of daylight, they are laying much fewer eggs. Last time it was 47. This time less than 30. Whatever comes in today will be the last of this period of collection. Eggs can be collected for 7 to 10 days and kept in a cool environment but not in the refrigerator.

Most of our quail are brown coturnix. They are tan and brown with spotted plumage. We have one white one from the original batch of eggs that we purchased and one white one from that first batch that we hatched out about 2 months ago. They are already mature. The males are fertile and the females are old enough to begin laying eggs. We will take out enough females to fill out our breeding stock and the rest will go to freezer camp.

Cows

We are down to one bull from this year’s calves and we have just offered up Egwene for sale as well. She is our purebred Jersey heifer calf. Her mom is certified A2A2 and her sire is also certified A2A2. If you are interested please let us know. She is a lovely calf and quite affectionate if she thinks you have a bottle. We are weaning her and she has only a day or so left where she will get milk. At 5 ½ months old, she is developed enough to live on grass. Homesteading requires tough choices and letting go of favored animals is one of them. I will miss her but we have to be true to our plan.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

The cooler weather we have had recently has been such a blessing. I hope it has been for you as well. I’m not a fan of summer. I like it okay in the beginning but it just seems to drag on and on. I’m the same way about winter. My favorite season is a toss up between spring and fall. Right now, fall is my favorite season, but I can guarantee you that in March my favorite season will be spring.

I tend to get seasonal affective disorder. Anyone familiar with that? As the winter drags on and there is less sun, vitamin D can be in short supply and depression may not be far behind. Usually by the end of January I’m feeling it and by the end of February I can be almost immobile. My level of motivation has fallen through the floor. These days I just accept what is and don’t try to fight it. I revel in my – shall I say – laziness and enjoy it while it lasts. Come spring the world will spin out of control with so much to do and no time to do it all. It’s a familiar cycle for me. I’ve learned to ride it like a roller coaster.

Let’s get to today’s topic.

How Long Does Raw Milk Last?

The short answer is nearly forever. The only thing that will stop you from consuming it is an aversion to the taste. First it becomes sour. Next it will thicken into yogurt. However, it will be a very strong yogurt. That yogurt will last a month or more. Along that time line you can drink the milk, use it in cooking, make cultured butter and buttermilk, and so on.

Contrast that with pasteurized milk. Pasteurized milk does not sour, it rots. It truly goes bad and is not safe for consumption. You do not want to put it in your mouth under any circumstances. On the other hand, when raw milk ages and starts to sour, this is good! Great, in fact.

What Makes Milk Sour and What Do I Do with It?

The reason raw milk starts to sour is because beneficial, probiotic bacteria amounts are increasing and using up the lactose sugar, making it taste sour, again, like a nice unsweetened yogurt. So, how long should your raw milk last when you get it home? Sandra Clark whose website is www.healthfoodnaturally.com, has this to say:

“If you get the milk the day it is milked, it will stay fresh up to 2 weeks. If it sours, no worries, it will become yogurt with no help at all (with a little sour cream on top).

Without a starter, the sour cream on top usually bitters, so you can just scrape it off and compost it if you don’t like the taste.

As for the yogurt, when we have left over milk at the end of the week, we just throw it in a ball jar and leave it in the fridge for if we get low on milk (because it has an amazingly long shelf life after turning into yogurt.)”

When we do run out of milk, we just throw some honey and fruit (usually berries) in and blend the yogurt into a tasty yogurt drink.

I have some jars in there as old as two months and the yogurt tastes fine (well not like store-bought yogurt – to get that particular flavor you need to manipulate it with a bacteria starter like for cheese making – but with honey and fruit added it tastes wonderful!).

So according to Sandra it should last up to 2 weeks in your fridge. In my experience, I have kept milk for nearly a month before it soured. Because in the spring we have tons of milk, this happens often. We just keep drinking it until the flavor goes off, then use it for other purposes.

What’s our Secret?

What is our secret to milk lasting so long? It’s two-fold. First, cooling it quickly. The faster it gets below 40 degrees, the longer it is going to last. The second key is keeping it very cold. The colder you keep the milk, the longer it will last. Our milk refrigerator is set to 34 degrees.

The problem that people have these days is having access to this great raw milk. I will do another podcast on how we got to this point. Today, I’ll just talk about where we are. There are lots of scary stories out there about how dangerous it is to drink raw milk. I say it’s hogwash and propaganda put out by some people in power with lobbyists to placate. The human species would have died out long before the pasteurization process was invented in the previous century if it was so dangerous. There are dangers in every food we consume. There are risks in every aspect of life. Assess your comfort level with the risk and make your choice.

Raw Milk Choice

The problem today is that in many states, there is no available choice for raw milk products unless you own your own cow. That’s why we started our herd share program. You can own part of a cow herd and receive the benefits of what your cows produce. More on that later. It’s so amazing to me that you can buy unpasteurized milk in the grocery store in 12 states, but the rest restrict it in various ways. It has to be labeled as pet milk in 4 states. 15 states allow it to be sold directly from the farm but not in the store. And of course, the herd share program is available in Virginia and 10 other states. In 9 states all sales are illegal and so are herd shares. So, 12 states think it is okay to for us buy raw milk and to consume it freely and the others are so certain we are all going to die of horrible illnesses that it has to be restricted or illegal altogether. I just cannot fathom the logic in this. If people were dying right and left, it would have been outlawed in all of those states wouldn’t it? Who is telling the truth?

Recent Studies Show Raw Milk Related Illnesses are Decreasing While Access is Increasing

You have to make up your own mind of course. And I will say again, there is risk in consuming any food. To help you with that decision as it pertains to raw milk, here is an article from the US National Library of Medicine Department of the National Institutes of Health (link in the show notes). It is titled Recent Trends in Unpasteurized Fluid Milk Outbreaks, Legalization, and Consumption in the United States.

There is a ton of really great information in this study. Lots of data, as you might expect, and lots of charts and graphs. It’s really good stuff. I’ll quote from the Abstract.

“Introduction: Determining the potential risk of foodborne illness has become critical for informing policy decisions, due to the increasing availability and popularity of unpasteurized (raw) milk.

Methods: Trends in foodborne illnesses reported to the Centers for Disease Control in the United States from 2005 to 2016 were analyzed, with comparison to state legal status and to consumption, as estimated by licensing records.

Results: The rate of unpasteurized milk-associated outbreaks has been declining since 2010, despite increasing legal distribution. Controlling for growth in population and consumption, the outbreak rate has effectively decreased by 74% since 2005.

Discussion: Studies of the role of on-farm food safety programs to promote the further reduction of unpasteurized milk outbreaks should be initiated, to investigate the efficacy of such risk management tools.”

So, there you have it. This study was initiated because they were pretty sure that the incidence of raw milk illnesses would increase as access was increased. They were wrong. There is now a push toward finding out if on-farm food safety programs are helping. I don’t need a study to tell me that they most certainly are. I’ve learned a lot of what I know because we have been studying cheesemaking for years. Others are just starting out and need to know about how to keep the environment sanitary and the milk clean. They need to know that it is really important to cool the milk quickly. Many still don’t use bulk milk tanks and have other ingenious methods of cooling the milk. A favored method is putting it in a freezer for 2 hours and then transferring to the refrigerator. I’m glad we have a bulk tank else frozen milk in broken jars would be a regular disaster. I get busy and forget stuff. Heck, I can walk into another room and forget why I went in there. Ever done that?

Raw Milk in Virginia

In Virginia, the way to have access to raw milk is via the herd share. You support the business by buying a share of the herd and get a designated rate of return on your investment. It is a commitment to be sure. It’s kind of like that wine buying club. You are committing to a certain amount of product per month for as long as you are a member.

If you’re looking for an affordable cow herd share program in southern Virginia or the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina that has quality, healthy, and long-lasting raw milk, cheese, butter and yogurt, this is it. We are situated in Patrick County, Virginia just northeast of Mount Airy, NC.

Here are four reasons our cow herd share program is so good.

  1. We offer 100% heritage breed Normande and Jersey milk, cheese, yogurt, cream and butter from cows with certified A2A2 genetics. I have a podcast on what A2A2 genetics means and I’ll include the link in the show notes. Briefly, there was as genetic mutation that happened a while back that changed the structure of the milk. Most milk today is NOT A2A2 in nature. One of the reasons we chose our heritage breed Normande cows was the purity of the ancient genetics.
  2. We use antibiotics only at great need and absolutely NO growth hormones. Because we care for our pastures, our cows get only the best nutrition. Occasionally, there is a need for antibiotics. It’s no different than a human woman getting mastitis while breast feeding. Sometimes it happens and you take care of it. If it is necessary, that cow’s milk is harvested separately until the treatment and subsequent waiting period is long past. And the idea of forcing our cows to produce more milk with hormones is abhorrent to me. There is no regard for the health of the animal at all with hormones. There is only the focus on production. I don’t think those that use these artificial means of increasing milk even see that the cows are living beings. They treat them like machines. When they inevitably burn out due to over-taxing their bodies, they are shunted off to the sale barn and replaced with a younger model. It’s disgusting.
  3. Our cows are out on grass all the time, and only come in for milking. They receive a small amount of non-soy, non-GMO grain supplement. This has two purposes. First, to entice the cow into the milking parlor and second to make sure she maintains her body condition. Our Normande cows can get by with absolutely no supplemental feed and maintain their body condition until late in the season. We choose to make sure they maintain body condition from beginning to end. The Jersey cow requires a great deal more supplemental nutrition. It is very easy for her to lose condition. I recently did a podcast on this as well (Normande vs Jersey – the Cost). The Jersey cow breed is a wonderful choice for many. But they do come with problems that we have not experienced with our Normandes. I won’t go into other details but, the days of Jersey cows on our homestead are numbered.
  4. To join their herd share program, it only costs $60 AND one share is only $44 monthly! You can also purchase a half share for $30 and $22 per month or multiple shares if you have a larger family. The herd produces milk from the first week of May through the last week of October. Yogurt and sometimes cream is also available in that time frame. In the spring, there is always a glut of milk and we makes lots and lots of cheese with that. Our cheese are all raw milk cheeses. The legal requirement is that they be aged at least 60 days. However, none of our cheeses would be worth a darn at that young age. We age all of our cheeses well past that minimum. Some only come into their flavor after many, many months. And they get better and better with age.

Our Herd Share Program

Check out the Herd Share page on our website – www.peacefulheartfarm.com. Click or tap “herd share” on the menu to get more information. Or drop us a line via email or give us a call. We’d love to have a conversation with you.

Fun fact about raw milk. Remember the old wives’ tale about drinking warm milk to get to sleep? That is likely due to the tryptophan in the milk. However, it doesn’t really work anymore unless you have a raw milk resource. Pasteurization destroys the tryptophan. And that’s it for today’s topic. Let’s finish up with a late summer recipe for home made ice cream.

Ice Cream Base

When it’s warm outside, a cold refreshing dish of ice cream can really hit the spot. This is a basic ice cream recipe that can be used as a base for many different flavors. I’ve included a download link to the flavorings. This silky, luscious and very classic custard can be used as the base for any ice cream flavor you can dream up. These particular proportions of milk and cream to egg yolk will give you a thick but not sticky ice cream that feels decadent but not heavy. For something a little lighter, use more milk and less cream, as long as the dairy adds up to 3 cups. You can also cut down on egg yolks for a thinner base, but don’t go below three.

What You Need

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ⅔cup sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • Your choice of flavoring

What To Do

  1. In a small pot, simmer cream, milk, sugar and salt until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about a third of the hot cream into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the cream. Return pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).
  2. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cool mixture to room temperature. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve directly from the machine for soft serve, or store in freezer until needed.

Notes

Download the recipes for flavorings

Final Thoughts

I’m so glad that summer is winding down. It was a long, rough summer. And I missed about half of it because of the appendicitis. Again, not a huge fan of heat of summer. Remember to contact us if you are interested in a Normande bull to strengthen your herd genetics or if you are looking for that A2A2 Jersey heifer for yourself or to add to your herd.

If you’re not into raising your own cow but still want the benefits of raw milk products, we are here to help you out with that. For us the benefits of raw milk and raw milk products far outweigh the small risk factor. I’ll do another podcast on the statistics for the number and percentage of illnesses attributed to raw milk consumption shown in the larger scope of food in general. Where does raw milk fall in the list of food born illnesses from food in general?

I hope you try out some really great ice cream recipes in these last days of summer and the early autumn. Share your experiences in the comments on the recipe page. Link in the Show Notes.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please hop over to Apple Podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and give me a 5-star rating and review. Also, please share it with any friends or family who might be interested in this type of content.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

 

References

Recipe Link

Ice Cream Base with bonus flavoring recipes download

To share your thoughts:

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Weston A Price Diet Basics

Today I’m going over the Weston A Price Diet Basics. They champion raw milk and have a lot of great information on their website. I’ll put a link in the show notes to their website.

Before I launch in to today’s info, I want to take a minute to say welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back to you veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast every week. I appreciate you all so much. I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on at the farm this week.

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • Weston A Price Diet Basics
  • Bone Broth Recipe

Homestead Life Updates

I feel almost normal again. There was one small incident earlier this week. We are missing one small buck and I thought he might be in with the girls so I walked much farther out into the pasture than normal to round up the goats. It’s pretty easy to do but required a bit more energy that I anticipated. I walked slowly and carefully. Keeping good balance is still an issue. I’m very careful when walking around out there. So many things can trip you up if you are not paying close attention. Then, oops, trip and down you go. Fortunately, I did not have that experience. No, I just walked slowly and carefully. Unfortunately, I walked a lot farther than I had in quite a while. It seemed like it would be easy. After all, I often easily walked two or three times as far as I did on this morning prior to my bout of appendicitis. Well, turns out it wasn’t that easy. I continue to be surprised by how weak my body became with this illness. Oh well, I just went inside, cooled off, rested . . . and then made some cheese.

The Garden and Orchard

Both are showing the effects of a lack of rain this summer. Oh, and the steers ate the tops of my celery, sweet potatoes and the Swiss chard. Bummer, I was going to take the celery to the farmer’s market per the request of my customers. The sweet potatoes will likely be fine. In fact, the tubers may grow even larger as they are the propagation mechanism for the plant. Whenever a plant’s life is threatened, it begins to put a lot of energy into reproduction. For instance, when it gets to hot for lettuce and spinach in late spring, the plants will send up stalks of seeds. This is referred to as “bolting”. We say the lettuce or spinach “bolted”. Sometimes even the smallest amount of stress can cause lettuce and spinach to bolt. It starts putting out as many seeds as possible to preserve itself.

Scott did take a day out of this creamery-building schedule to water the few remaining veggies in the garden and the entire orchard. He also did a bit of summer pruning of the trees. And then it was back to laying blocks in the creamery.

The Creamery

It is so exciting to see those walls growing out of the ground. The building is really taking shape. Scott is so dedicated to using every possible minute to get the project completed. His attention to detail is also inspiring. The seams between the blocks are perfectly aligned. Visit our Facebook page to see images of all his hard work.

The Animals

We started the culling process with the goats. I talked about our plan in the podcast just prior to this one. In the end, we will have no sheep and the cashmere goats will be replaced with Kiko goats. We took the three breeding bucks to the meat processor. They will make lots of ground chev. Look for a good deal on soup bones. We will have lots of them.

All three of them had impressive racks of horns. Roanoke’s were more than 4’ feet from tip to tip. We asked and were granted permission to keep the heads with the horns attached. They are currently curing and will eventually decorate our walls – probably in the small store area of the creamery.

The Quail

We have begun collecting eggs for the next batch of quail. It started slow. Only two so far.

The quail cages got moved. Their manure smell is quite pungent and their cages were far too close to the carport and back door. The odor seemed to accumulate under the carport and came wafting to the back door.

Each time the quail are disturbed, they stop laying eggs for a few days. When Scott was building the cages, he had to remove the layers from their cages while he assembled the additional cage above their space. They stopped for a day or so and then slowly returned to their original laying pattern. So when Scott moved their cage to a new and quite lovely shady spot, their laying dropped to almost nothing. He brought in two eggs this morning. Normally, we get six to eight. Also, the days are getting shorter and the birds will naturally lay fewer eggs. They need light to lay every day. We can supply artificial light and we may do that. Who knows? That’s another project though. Best keep on with the creamery.

Weston Price Diet Basics

Today I want to talk about a traditional diet as presented by the Weston A Price Foundation. (WAPF). There are lots and lots of ideas and opinions about nutrition out there. The science cannot seem to agree. And it makes sense. No two people are alike. Some people live on the equator with ancestral and genetic ties to an abundance of fruits. Some people live in areas where meat and fat are their only choices. I recommend doing your own research and making your choices based on the needs belonging uniquely to you and your family.

Today, specifically, I’ll be outlining the recommendations detailed by the Weston A Price Foundation. First, some basics on the man and the organization.

Who is Weston Price?

Weston Andrew Valleau Price (September 6, 1870 – January 23, 1948) was a Canadian dentist known primarily for his theories on the relationship between nutrition, dental health, and physical health. He founded the research institute National Dental Association, which became the research section of the American Dental Association, and was the NDA’s chairman from 1914 to 1928.

Price initially did dental research on the relationship between endodontic therapy and pulpless teeth and broader systemic disease, known as focal infection theory, a theory which resulted in many extractions of tonsils and teeth. Focal infection theory fell out of favor in the 1930s and was pushed to the margins of dentistry by the 1950s.

By 1930, Price had shifted his interest to nutrition. In 1939, he published Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, detailing his global travels studying the diets and nutrition of various cultures. The book concludes that aspects of a modern Western diet (particularly flour, sugar, and modern processed vegetable fats) cause nutritional deficiencies that are a cause of many dental issues and health problems. The dental issues he observed include the proper development of the facial structure (to avoid overcrowding of the teeth) in addition to dental caries. This work received mixed reviews, and continues to be cited today by proponents of many different theories, including controversial dental and nutritional theories.

The Weston A Price Foundation

The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) was co-founded in 1999 by Sally Fallon Morell and nutritionist Mary G. Enig. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to “restoring nutrient-dense foods to the American diet through education, research and activism.”

The foundation has been criticized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its advocacy of drinking raw milk and by various nutritionists for its advocacy of the health benefits of animal-based fats.

The President of the foundation is Sally Fallon Morell. The foundation has seven board members and numerous honorary board members, most of whom have medical or nutritional qualifications. 

Its main sources of support are the dues and contributions of its members. It does not receive funding from the government or the food processing and agribusiness industries. It does accept sponsorships, exhibitors and advertising from small companies by invitation, whose products are in line with its principles. The sponsors include grass-fed meat and wild fish producers, as well as health product companies.

A 2004 report published by the foundation stated that it is dedicated to “restoring nutrient-dense foods to the American diet through education, research and activism”, and “supports a number of movements that contribute to this objective including accurate nutrition instruction, organic and biodynamic farming, pasture feeding of livestock, community-supported farms, honest and informative labeling, prepared parenting and nurturing therapies.”

Specific goals include establishment of universal access to certified raw milk and a ban on the use of soy in infant formulas. The organization actively lobbies in Washington DC on issues such as government dietary guidelines definition and composition of school lunch programs.

The WAPF publishes a quarterly journal called Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and the Healing Arts, and an annual shopping guide which lists products made from organic, non-GMO ingredients and prepared using traditional and artisan methods.

WAPF Diet Basics

The diets of healthy primitive and non-industrialized peoples contain no refined or denatured foods such as refined sugar or corn syrup; white flour; canned foods; pasteurized, homogenized, skim or low-fat milk; refined or hydrogenated vegetable oils; protein powders; artificial vitamins or toxic additives and colorings.

I do want to point out that primitive cultures have health difficulties that our modern systems have overcome. Access to food and health care in the first world is amazing. Death in childbirth and early childhood death from things like pneumonia are still issues for the primitive tribes. Diet won’t fix that. Appendicitis like I had would have been a death sentence for these people without modern medicine. We truck food from one side of the country to the other. Importing and exporting food from and to all parts of the world is now commonplace. We do not have problems with access to food. Our problems might be characterized more as excess of food.

All traditional cultures consume some sort of animal protein and fat from fish and other seafood; water and land fowl; land animals; eggs; milk and milk products; reptiles; and insects.

In every traditional culture, some of the animal products are eaten raw.

Their location on the planet determines their diet. And as I mentioned earlier, some have access to an abundance of fresh fruit. For some fruit would be a year-round staple and for other it would be seasonal.

Because of the focus on the foods I just mentioned, primitive diets contain at least four times the calcium and other minerals and TEN times the fat soluble vitamins from animal fats (vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin K2) as the average American diet.

There is an interesting connection between raw foods and the enzymes needed to digest them. Primitive and traditional diets have a high food-enzyme content from raw dairy products, raw meat and fish; raw honey; tropical fruits; cold-pressed oils; wine and unpasteurized beer; and naturally preserved, lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages, meats and condiments. Lacto-fermenting is an art form I’ll address for you in a later podcast.

Seeds, grains and nuts are soaked, sprouted, fermented or naturally leavened in order to neutralize their naturally occurring antinutrients. Phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors, tannins and complex carbohydrates are examples of antinutrients.

Most of today’s nutritionists insist that low fat is the way to go. But that’s not how we were able to survive to experience this modern era. The total fat content of traditional diets varies from 30% to 80%. Of total calories consumed, only about 4% come from polyunsaturated oils. That 4% comes from the naturally occurring oils in grains, pulses, nuts, fish, animal fats and vegetables. The balance of fat calories is in the form of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.

Traditional diets contain nearly equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids. There is a lot of heady information out there about what food has what fat and in what ratio? Is there a balance of equal parts omega-6 and omega-3? Again, in traditional diets where animals are raised in harmony with nature and gardens are made fertile with naturally occurring compost, the balance of this fat and that fat is irrelevant. When using traditional methods of farming, the animals are healthy and the nutrition in food is naturally in balance. If it is not, something needs to change in the farming method. This is the essence of being sustainable. 

All primitive diets contain some salt. Another vilified nutrient by today’s standards.

Traditional cultures consume animal bones, usually in the form of gelatin-rich bone broths. Bone broth is quite popular today in the keto and carnivore diet worlds.

That sums up the basics of the WAPF diet basics. Go to their website and signup for their 7-part Wise Traditions Diet to get all the information on eating a traditional diet. What to eat as well as proper preparation passed down through centuries of experience. 

Bone Broth

Bone broth is made with bones that have bits of meat still clinging unlike “stock”. It is also generally thinner than “stock”. Most people use the terms interchangeably. It has been made for centuries. Roasted bones will add flavor to the broth and will darken the color.

This recipe that fresh herbs for an added bit of flavor.

What You Need

  • 1 pound lamb bones or other bone of our choice
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, chunked
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary 
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme 
  • 3 gallons water, more as needed
  • Salt, optional

What To Do

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Place bones in roasting pan. Cook for 30-40 minutes or until browned.
  3. In a large stock pot placed over medium heat, add cooking oil.
  4. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and herbs. Saute for 5 minutes.
  5. Add bones including fat and juices from the roasting pan.
  6. Add enough water to cover the bones and bring it to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low.
  7. Simmer for 8 hours (or up to 24 hours) uncovered. Add more water as needed to keep the bones covered.
  8. Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer lined with a tea towel.
  9. Enjoy hot or store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Notes

If you made a larger amount, freeze the remaining broth in container sizes that fit your everyday needs or pressure can for longer term storage.

Hop over to the website to find and print this recipe. There is a link in the show notes. Go to the home page, click or tap podcasts, click or tap this episode titled “Weston A Price Diet Basics,” scroll to the bottom of the post and you will find the link to the bone broth recipe.

Final Thoughts

That’s it for this episode of the Peaceful Heart FarmCast. We are winding down toward fall, the harvests are coming in and preserving food for the winter is in full swing here on the homestead. The work on the creamery continues. And as the days get cooler, that bone broth is the perfect food for bringing you warmth and peace at the end of the day.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please hop over to Apple Podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and give it a 5-star rating and review. And the best way to help out the show is to share it with any friends or family who might be interested in this type of content.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

References

Weston A Price Foundation

Recipe Link

Bone Broth

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Normande vs Jersey — the Cost

We have made some really startling discoveries lately regarding the cost of milking cows and I want to share that with you today. Normande vs Jersey – the cost is the main topic for today. Both are traditional breeds. What’s the difference and how does that affect the cost of raising them. 

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • Normande vs Jersey – The Cost
  • Skillet Chicken with Neufchatel Spinach Artichoke Sauce

Homestead Life Updates

Life is getting back to normal on the homestead. I’m mending nicely and my energy level is back to where I can work all day and not be too tired. I still have to watch myself in the heat and doing too much in one day. While I’m active all day, I want to be cognizant of the strength and energy required to perform those activities. For instance, I might go to the garden for a little while, but not for the hours and hours I would put in before. I do more inside tasks.

The Garden

Speaking of the garden, putting in less hours is working out well as the garden is winding down. We have finished with the tomatoes. Not because they weren’t producing but because I simply have had enough of tomatoes. I planted way too many. If it weren’t for the drought we have been experiencing, I would have been even more overwhelmed. Most of the season the tomatoes were small due to lack of water and fertilizer. They were very good tomatoes, just not very big. Instead of a nice 3 ½ inch diameter, they were more like 2 ½ inches in diameter. Pretty small I know. But they were really, really good.

The Many Ways of Preserving Tomatoes

I’ve canned and canned and canned. Mostly tomato sauce, though I made a few jars of salsa and really like it. I have all of the remaining tomatoes on a shelf inside the house near a window. Those tomatoes will all go into salsa. Barbecue sauce is on the list as well. That concoction is just about ready to be canned. Even though I am using a traditional recipe it calls for more sugar than I want. I can leave out some of the sugar and start my own traditional barbeque sauce line as a much healthier product. IMO

Animal Husbandry

The animals are doing really well. We had a long discussion about where we are going to go with our animals. We currently have sheep, goats, cows, and donkeys. Which do we want to keep and which will go? We haven’t talked much about the donkeys, though we have discussed selling two of them as we don’t need that many. And after I talk about the sheep, we may not need any at all. That is another discussion.

The Sheep

Currently we have one breeding ram and 6 ewes. This year that combination produced 10 lambs that will go to market next year. We also have three lambs that are ready for market right now. Get your orders in now if you want a half or whole lamb. Again, there are only three.

We had a good long discussion about the sheep a few days ago. They are wonderful animals and very easy to keep and manage. The flock has been genetically improved so they have little to no problems with parasites. That was a big problem for us in the beginning. We lost many animals – especially small lambs – in the first year or two.

The discussion revolved around time management. While they are easy to keep and raise, they also are one more marketing task that we have to take on to sell the lambs and meat each year. In our neck of the woods, lamb is actually quite popular. However, every minute I spend marketing lamb is a minute I don’t spend marketing cheese. These are business decisions that have to be considered.

In the end, we decided to phase out our flock of sheep. We will not breed this year and will begin culling the older ewes a little at a time. Likely we will sell the breeding ram, but in the end, all sheep will be gone from our homestead. At least for the time being. We can revisit this after the creamery is completed and we have a good handle on making and marketing our cheese. For right now, the creamery, cheesemaking and marketing are our primary focus.

The Purpose of Goats

Unlike the sheep, the goats have a greater role to play in the maintenance of good pasture for our grass-fed operation. Sheep do eat different things than cows initially, but in the end, they both eat all of the grasses. The goats, on the other hand, like to eat woody stems such as small trees, briars, brambles, wild blackberries and so on. But still there will be changes. Again, relating to efficient time management on the homestead.

We chose cashmere goats because I love to knit. It was a great idea to raise them, comb out the cashmere, then send it off to be processed and spun into roving and yarn. Then I was going to knit cute little baby stuff to sell at the market. In the end, I simply don’t have that kind of time. There is only so much I can do. This is a great life lesson. You can divide your focus between two things, but neither will ever get your full attention.

The goats require constant hoof maintenance. The cashmere must be combed out at exactly the right time in late winter. There is a pre-cleaning that happens before sending it off to be cleaned, carded and made into roving and/or yarn. I once thought that I would have lots of time in the winter to sit and knit to my heart’s content. Didn’t happen.

I spend a great deal of time in the winter laying out the marketing plans for the spring, summer and fall. Because once spring has sprung, everything else goes on hold. Cows are being milked, cheese is being made, and trips to the farmer’s market are happening a couple of times a week. I better have all of my marketing ducks in a row before the dam bursts.

What To Do With Our Goats

Back to the goats. We will still have a herd of goats. However, we are going to cull out all of the cashmere goats and eventually bring in some Kiko goats. Kikos were developed in New Zealand based on the needs of the local markets. They needed goats that did not require a lot of parasite control and certainly did not need hoof maintenance. Taking a feral breed and crossing it with domestic breeds, they were able to develop a great meat goat that requires little to no maintenance. That’s our kind of animal. We still have to sell the goat meat, but we will keep the herd small.

We haven’t managed our goats nearly as well as the sheep. Unauthorized breeding is an ongoing problem with them. There seem to be goat kids popping out at the most inconvenient times. And of course, it makes the herd bigger when we don’t take the time to get them to market. Unlike the Kiko goat which was developed for efficient meat production, the cashmere goats take a long time to get to a good size for market. They are bred for their winter undercoat of cashmere with no regard for any other trait.

The Donkeys

As I mentioned, we haven’t discussed the donkeys and whether we will continue to keep them after the sheep are gone. They were purchased as livestock guardian animals for the sheep. They are also the only thing on the homestead that could properly be called a pet. They are very friendly animals and they crave human interaction.

Likely we will keep them around. We want you guys to come visit us and I wouldn’t want you to miss them. AAANNNDDD I would miss them too.

The Cows

Finally, I get to the cows and this will lead into today’s topic. In fact, I’m going to skip right to the topic.

Normande vs Jersey Cows – the Cost Analysis

First, a short review of our choice for the Normande breed of cow. Second, how did we end up with a Jersey cow and heifer calf? Lastly, how has this experience changed the way we think about our herd?

Why We Chose Normande Cows?

I know you’ve heard me say this before, but I’ll say it again. I love our Normande cows. For more particulars about the breed, listen to my podcast “Why Normande Cows”. We bought our first girls in the fall of 2011. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would have a milk cow on our homestead. Making cheese, butter and yogurt along with that luscious fresh milk straight from the cow was on the top of my list of things I wanted in my life.

We had plenty of time to research what kind of cow we wanted to have for our traditional family cow. As mentioned above, there are always offspring to deal with when raising animals. In order for a cow to produce milk, she needs to have a calf every year. She will produce milk for about a year before naturally drying up, but proper management requires us to stop milking her and “dry her off” a good three months before she gives birth again. That gives her the resources she needs to remain healthy and grow a healthy calf. So what kind of cow was going to give us a good calf for beef as well as produce a lot of milk for my enjoyment, cheesemaking and so on?

Dual Breed Cows

There are quite a few breeds that are listed as “dual breed”, meaning they produce lots of milk but also produce calves that grow out with well-marbled meat in a timely manner. Another requirement we had was a good healthy steer that could thrive on pasture and did not need to be grain finished to reach that well-marbled meat in a timely manner goal. Same for the milk. She needs to be able to maintain her weight and condition without being fed the customary 6 pounds of grain a day allowed for organic grass-fed dairies. Commercial dairies will feed their cows up to 30 pounds of grain per day.

The trade off with not feeding grain is less milk. Grain definitely increases milk production. And while I am not opposed to feeding the 6 pounds of non-gmo, non-soy feed, if we need more production, our current model does not require this. Let me explain a little more.

My first concern is the health of the cow. I’ve seen some pretty skinny milk cows. They were being pasture raised with absolutely no grain. It’s a fine goal, but if your cow is starving because so much of her energy is going into milk production that there is little left for her own needs, the goal is flawed. I prefer a system approach.

My system is designed to keep healthy herd, produce enough milk for us to make our traditional, hand-made artisan cheese in sufficient quantity to support the homestead, and produce excellent beef, breeding and replacement stock with the annual calving.

There are several breeds that advertise themselves as fitting those requirements. But the Normande stood out in my mind. Their milk production is on par with the Jersey. The fat and protein components are on par with the Jersey. The largest deciding factor was the composition of the milk as it relates to cheesemaking.

Normande Cow Characteristics

The Normande cow produces a milk with a protein structure that is the most conducive to cheesemaking. In France, Normande milk is prized and even required for some cheeses to carry a specific name. Camembert di Normande comes to mind. Neufchâtel is also made with milk from Normande cows. Neufchatel is a traditional, soft-white, table cheese, originating from the village of Neufchatel-en-Bray in northern Normandy. It is one of France’s oldest cheese, dating back as far as 1035. Often, it is heart-shaped. That shape came about during the Hundred Years’ War between England and France from 1337 to 1453. Tales are told about the French farm girls falling in love with English soldiers and making these heart-shaped cheese to show their love.

One other characteristic we considered was docility. Cows are very large animals. I wanted a breed that was gentle and easy to work with and the Normande has exceeded my expectations in that area. Far exceeded my expectations.

We love our Normandes so how did we come to own a couple of Jerseys?

Why Did We Buy a Jersey Cow?

I often referred to Jersey cows when talking about the Normande and other dairy breeds. It is the most popular choice for a family milk cow. Typically, they produce lots and lots of milk with higher butterfat and protein levels than other breeds. They are not, however, a dual breed. They are actually quite skinny in their natural state. Boney in fact. While our Normandes are flat across their rump with meat and fat, the Jersey cow’s hip bones are really prominent. It is how they are genetically built. Their energy primarily goes into making milk, not meat and fat.

Jersey milk is highly prized for the highest butter fat content. That means you can make lots of butter. Cheese made from Jersey milk will also be higher in fat, and that means more flavor. They are a great milk cow. But again, not a dual breed. Though I do see a lot of marketing going on right now for Jersey beef. And I assure you, that it is only marketing.  It is marketing with information put together by the American Jersey Cattle Association researchers. The studies they are conducting include the standard grain diet fed to beef cattle to grow out the Jersey steers. They are simply not going to get the proper level of fat on grass only. I think it might work for the commercial market, but would not be viable for the family homestead. I’m willing to change my mind if I’m wrong. Right now, my mind says that Jerseys are NOT a dual breed.

So how did we end up with a bred Jersey cow? We needed some cash flow and herd shares were one way to provide it. A combination of the A2A2 certification of this cow and her calf along with the possibility of an existing customer base tipped the scale.

When I was first approached, I simply wasn’t interested in another cow – and a Jersey to boot. But the idea of offering herd shares was intriguing. After a few days and lots of discussion, Scott and I decided to give it a try. It was a big financial risk but we decided to take the plunge. The current owner was offering herd shares and some of her customers would likely come to us after she stopped offering the service. That would help offset the initial cost of the cow. Additionally, I felt I could work it into my already busy marketing schedule as the herd shares contributed to our cheese centerpiece. Yes, we offer the fresh raw milk, but we also provide cheese, yogurt and butter to our herd share owners.

Fast forward, Butter has her calf. A very beautiful deer-like heifer. Very boney and much smaller than our Normande calves. That’s just how they come. We started milking Butter and offering fresh A2A2 milk via our herd shares. The legal contracts are worded to include cheese, butter, yogurt and cream as part of the herd production.

Here’s What We Found Out – the Good News

The A2A2 milk is the real draw for both the milk and the cheese. We are in the process of getting our Normande cows tested for the A2A2 beta casein genetic trait. For more info on that, listen to my podcast, “What is A2A2 Milk?” Link in the show description. We are moving our herd genetics to 100% A2A2 beta casein and BB kappa casein. I haven’t talked about kappa casein yet. BB kappa casein is the genetic quality that makes the best cheese. That need its own podcast.

Here’s What We Found Out – the Bad News

First, the docility factor. Jerseys, and indeed most dairy cows, are fairly placid. What I see is that they are placid with humans. The Jersey cows are very aggressive with the other cows. Even Egwene, Butter’s calf, is aggressive with her bottle. She pushes and jerks on that bottle with ferocity. It’s not a problem for us at all. Just noted. As I said, the Jersey cows are very placid with humans.

Second, that Jersey does produce some really good milk and cream. She also requires feed – expensive feed. While our Normande cows stay fat and healthy on pure grass, even when they are in milk, a Jersey requires feed to maintain body condition when in milk. We feed a little bit of a supplement to our Normandes purely to keep them interested in coming into the milking parlor. Violet in particular is quite fat and she never received any grain supplement until this year when we trained her to put her head into the milking stanchion. The Normande breed has been developed over centuries to thrive on a grass-based diet.

Because we keep Butter’s milk separate so our herd share owners can have 100% A2A2 milk, we are able to keep track of which cow is giving how much milk. The results are in. Butter is getting about four pounds or so of non-gmo, non-soy dairy feed supplement. Her milking parlor mate, Violet, gets about two handfuls of sweet feed. Violet produces as much or more milk than Butter. That’s right. As much and sometimes more milk from Violet without the expense of lots of special feed. I believe that Butter is quite capable of producing quite a bit more milk than Violet. However, we would have to feed her more grain to accomplish it. We don’t need a lot of milk at this time. The herd shares are still building and I’m only making cheese intermittently due to limitations of aging space. We simply don’t need the extra milk. 

If you run a Jersey dairy, it’s probably worth the cost to have more milk. But for us, why spend the money if you don’t have to? If we wanted more milk production from our Normandes, we could feed them a dairy supplement. Who knows how much milk they would produce? I do know that the little bit of feed they do get increases their milk production significantly. And perhaps at some time in the future that will be the way to go. As our cheese business takes off, we may want to make more cheese than the original plan outlined. We may have many more herd shares available in the future. In that case, we may feed some grain to produce more milk. But for right now, the grass requires no cash flow. It’s free. 

Where Do We Go From Here?

The bottom line is we are going to phase out the Jerseys. As soon as I can get at least one of my Normande cows certified as having A2A2 genetics, Butter goes up for sale. We are already talking about selling her calf, Egwene. Perhaps we will wait until we can sell her as a bred heifer. We shall see. In the end, the Normande ladies rule.

Skillet Chicken with Neufchatel Spinach Artichoke Sauce

You just can’t go wrong with skillet chicken and a good cheese sauce!

Perfectly golden brown, tender pan seared chicken breasts are topped with an easy to make, rich and flavorful spinach artichoke sauce. It might remind you of my crab and artichoke dip recipe but much lighter. Recipe link in the show notes.

What You Need

  • 24 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 3 ½ cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 (14 oz) can artichoke quarters, drained and chopped
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • 4 oz Neufchatel cheese, diced into small cubes
  • 1/3 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup sour cream

What To Do

  1. Pound chicken to an even thickness using the flat side of a meat mallet. Season both sides with salt and pepper. 
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden brown on bottom, about 5 – 6 minutes. 
  3. Turn chicken to opposite side. Continue cooking until chicken is golden brown on bottom or center registers 165 on an instant read thermometer, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to a plate, cover and keep warm.
  4. Melt remaining 2 Tbsp butter in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and flour and cook 30 seconds then add in spinach and artichokes and sauté about 1 minute or until spinach has wilted.
  5. Pour in milk and scrape up browned bits from bottom. 
  6. Add in Neufchatel cheese and parmesan, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook and stir until mixture has thickened slightly and cheeses have melted. 
  7. Stir in sour cream then return chicken to skillet.

Quick and easy, this recipe serves 4. Give yourself 15 minutes to prep the ingredients and about 18 minutes for cooking. In just about 33 minutes you’ve created a masterpiece.

Final Thoughts

We gave the Jersey breed a chance and ended up back in the same place we started. Normande is the breed for us. I hope you get a chance to visit the farm sometime in the near future. See these beautiful creatures close up and personal. And you’ll want to pet the donkeys as well.

We love the homestead life. There is always something new coming along. The variety and number of animals may change according to our needs, but they will always be a central part of our life. Especially the milk cows. They are such peaceful creatures. And our traditional breed Normandes exemplify peace.

Neufchatel cheese originated in Normandy, France. It’s a fantastic cheese. And even though the US version of it is a bit watered-down and rectangular rather than heart-shaped, give that skillet chicken with spinach artichoke sauce a try. You’ll be glad you did.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please hop over to Apple Podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and give me a 5-star rating and review. Also, please share it with any friends or family who might be interested in this type of content.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

Recipe Link

Skillet Chicken with Neufchatel Spinach Artichoke Sauce

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