Tag Archives: raw milk

Life on the fringe

Anna and I frequently find ourselves “on the fringe” of society.  What I mean by that is, we have moved away from much of what most Americans consider mainstream.  Why?  Primarily because the more we educate ourselves on decisions, the less we trust “corporate America”.  While we are very confident in our choices, we are always willing to learn more.  However, there must be actual factual background for choices and not just because it is what everyone else does.  Here are some examples:

Goat milk.  We chose to get dairy goats with the sole reason of using them for milk for our family.  While the stats vary according to the source, in general, it is estimated that about 70% of the world’s population consumes goat milk.  In the US, we drink goat milk, and we are on the fringe.

Raw milk.  Not only is the milk we drink from a goat, it is UNPASTEURIZED! That’s right.  We just filter and chill the milk.  Do you think that the 70% of the world drinking goat milk have pasteurization machines in the kitchen?  I completely understand why pasteurization exists – to cleanse milk of bacteria/contamination that is likely to be present on large-scale productions.  However, it is very clear that unpasteurized milk can be safely produced and consumed on small-scale operations (like a family farm).

Raising our own meat.  Our kids know the rabbits in the cages will be raised as meat.  The chickens will give us eggs, and then they too will be dinner.  You know what?  They are not traumatized by this, because they don’t have illusions that meat comes from a mysterious factory in another place.  Our children understand the life cycle better than some adults I have met.  Choosing to raise meat, that isn’t injected with antibiotics, somehow puts us on the fringe.  About 100 years ago we would have been considered normal.

Barefoot horses.  Facts: horses in the wild do not have shoes, do not get trimmed by humans, do not exhibit many of the pathologies and hoof problems in domestic horses, and live longer.  Yet, with all that reality, somehow Americans have become convinced that barefoot horses are the oddballs!  I seriously have to defend the choice to leave shoes off or remove shoes from horses!  Why don’t owners who have shod horses have to defend their choice since that is the unnatural path?  Owning horses without metal plates nailed to hooves puts us on the fringe.

Rejecting chemical fertilizers.  We choose to not use chemicals in our gardens, on our grass, in the pastures, or otherwise around the farm whenever possible.  I’m not saying there is never a time and place for that, but we don’t feel the default choice should be a chemical.  Organic practices put us on the fringe.

TV shows.  There are some tv shows that I will not watch based on principle.  I have never, and will never, watch American Idol, solely due to the name.  I refuse to encourage or support the idolization of individuals in society.  And yes, it extends way beyond tv.  I heard there was a football game on tv yesterday.  I didn’t watch it, because I am disappointed in the pedestal our society places professional athletes upon; the same athletes who are frequently poor role models.

Cooking.  We (usually Anna but me too) cook food.  I mean with actual ingredients.  For example, Anna made cookies, and it didn’t involve a single box with 1 egg and water.  Our kids look forward to special occasions because it means they might get to have a soda (there are none in the house).  Dinner at a restaurant is exciting to the kids.  McDonald’s is a rare treat.  Sure, there are some quick and easy dinner options in the cabinet or freezer, but they are the exception around here.  And by the way, we threw out all our non-stick and only cook in cast iron or stainless steel.

Church.  We go to church regularly.  This creates conflicts with horse shows, goa t shows, kid activities etc.  People are surprised when you say Sunday morning is a conflict because you go to church.  When did going to church become something for those on the fringe?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging those who differ in opinions.  I just can’t quite grasp how society seems to have shifted so much, that what was mainstream 100 years ago, has left us on the fringe…

Goat’s milk – by the numbers

Since our last doe has been dried up and we are getting ready for kidding season, I closed out the milk records for last season.  If you are not familiar with the dairy industry, milk production is actually tracked and discussed by weight (pounds of milk), not volume.  While it was obvious on a day-to-day basis what the production of the goats was, we decided last June to start tracking it for analysis (I am an engineer after all).  So, after each milking, we would weigh the milk for the doe and record it on a sheet in the milking area.  Then, at the end of the month, I entered the data into a spreadsheet.

This year, we had 4 goats in milk.  We chose to only milk 1 time a day because it provided enough milk for us and reduced the chore load in the evenings.  When we dropped to 1 time a day, we saw the daily total for each goat drop by about 30%.  Lilly was sold shortly after starting the records, so she is excluded from the totals. Here is how the others did.

Saffron – Lamancha, first freshener. 283 days in milk. 840 lbs produced. 3.0lbs avg per day over entire cycle.

Tang – Lamancha, first freshener. 266 days in milk. 656 lbs produced. 2.5lbs avg per day over entire cycle.

Betty – Oberhasli, second freshener. 303 days in milk. 565 lbs produced. 1.9lbs avg per day over entire cycle.

Total for the 3 goats: 2061 lbs, or about 257 gallons.  If we were purchasing raw cow milk, it would have a value of $2570.  If we were purchasing raw goat milk, it would have a value of $5140.  If we were purchasing the milk, we probably wouldn’t use as much as we do.

We had already observed that our Oberhasli’s don’t produce nearly as much as the Lamanchas.  Therefore, if we decided to change to a single breed, it would be Lamanchas.  Of course, we are not in this from a maximum production standpoint.

Conclusions.  We use a lot of milk.  It is  cheaper to raise your own goats for milk than to buy milk.