This past weekend, I visited a raw milk dairy.
I know. I know. At this moment, you are probably thinking something along the lines of “holy cr#p, you’re going to kill yourself!”
And I understand that thinking; I used to think the same think myself.
However, due to recent events, my point of view has flipped 180º and I am OK with raw milk. But, that is the subject of another post. This post is about my trip to the farm.
Mr. PR went with me and we had a lovely (and educational) time.
On Saturday, we toured Gasper Family Farm, which is located near Fort Scott, KS. They produce “grassfed beef, dairy, pork, chicken, duck and rabbit from healthy, happy pastured animals.” The Gasper family includes Pete, Susan and their six children. We met Pete, Susan, and Daniel, their eldest child.
Pete met us at a green gate, which is the entrance to their farm. After introducing ourselves, Pete took some time to tell us about the farm and why they produce raw milk. What was probably supposed to be a brief discussion grew into a really long one (maybe an hour?), but it was great, and we talked about all sorts of topics, such as why Pete and Susan became farmers (Susan grew up on a farm and they wanted to raise their kids on a farm), what they did before farming (Pete was a software engineer and Susan was an engineer), why raw milk (searching for healthier foods and new treatments for a serious illness), and so on.
Then, Pete took us through the front pasture to a shaded area where the cows were hanging out. It was terrific to be in the shade as it was really hot and kind of humid.
On the way to the trees, Pete explained how he manages his pastures, to increase nutritional density of the “grass,” and moves the cows around, so that they graze the pastures evenly. If the pasture is healthy, the cows will be healthier. If the cows are healthier, they give healthier, more nutrient dense milk, which is better for us.
As we walked through the trees, the first cow we met was Jasmine (see above). As you can see, Jasmine is a lovely red-brown cow with white margins and no horns. She was tied to a tree and waiting to be milked. The Gaspers milk in the traditional way, by hand. To do so, they sit on an over-turned bucket and milk into a stainless-steel milk can. The opening of the milk can is tightly covered with cheese-cloth, so that the milk is immediately filtered and bugs can’t get into it. While we were standing nearby, Susan came and milked Jasmine, who just stood there peacefully and let Susan do it. The whole milking process took only about 15-minutes, which was a surprise to me.
Nearby was a pond with white Chinese geese. Pete and Susan have a pretty big flock of geese. Here are a few of them swimming in the pond. The geese were really cool too. I love those funny orange bulbs on their beaks.
Here is a closer look, as some of them were getting into the pond.
After watching Jasmine be milked, we walked around the pond and took a look at some of the other cows.
The bull was with the other cows, just walking along peacefully. He wasn’t bothered by us a bit and sort of reminded me of Ferdinand the Bull, who liked to sit under a cork tree and smell the flowers.
In fact, all of the cows just gave us a quick look and then went back to whatever they had been doing. Apparently, Mr. PR and I aren’t too important in the grand scheme of cow things. Which was kind of cool in a peaceful way.
The whole time that we were looking at things, we were discussing farming with Pete and watching things going on around us. Here is a photo of Pete with Star, the first cow that he raised. Isn’t Star beautiful? I love here stripy coat. She is a very sweet girl.
Though Star is a mostly red-brown cow, she has a white star on her right hip. Star is a Jersey – Milking Shorthorn cross, and I was surprised by how small she is. Several of the other cows are Milking Devons, which you can read about here, and which are a triple-purpose breed that are used for milk, meat and draft work. Pete said that Holsteins, the black and white cows commonly used in industrial dairy, are about twice as big as Star. I had no idea that a cow could get that big!
After our tour, we took home two and a half gallons of raw milk. Here is a photo of the raw milk that we brought home. Beautiful! And I was excited to try it. 😀
Here is a closer view (below). As you can see, the cream floats to the top. Sorry that the photo is so dark. I found that it was easiest to see the separation of the milk and cream when the exposure was greatly reduced. Otherwise, it is difficult to see in a photo.
Since I prefer to drink low fat milk (no gall bladder here), I tried to spoon off the cream. That turned out to be a pain in the neck as I don’t have a ladle small enough to fit through the mouth of the jar. In the end, I just shook up the milk and, after a tiny second of hesitation, WE DRANK IT…
How did it taste?
It was slightly sweet, mild and delicious. It was refreshing and satisfying. It made me feel full! No wonder kids used to be happy with just a glass of milk and one cookie as a snack.
This raw milk has been great in coffee and tea, and great on cereal. But the best way to eat it is to drink it straight.
Definitely the best milk in the Kansas City area.
So far, we have gone through a whole jar of raw milk! We have observed no ill effects since we began drinking the raw milk. And, we are still here. Still not dead.
And I am looking forward to opening the second jar of raw milk very soon. 😀