Tuesday, February 19, 2013

raw milk in perspective

Okay, just call me crazy for the way I think.

For some reason I decided to look up the raw milk laws in other countries. Why is it legal to sell raw milk in so many other countries if raw milk is so deadly? I'm not talking about third world countries, or undiscovered tribes in Africa here, I'm talking about Scotland, England, Italy. How about Prince Charles giving raw milk the credit for his grandmother living to be 100. Read for yourself.

In this next link I find some interesting points. If you read it you will see that there were 12 cases (involving only 435 people) of food borne illness in 2000 and 2008 tracked back to raw milk. If that's the case for making raw milk illegal, explain to me why it's legal to sell ground beef or raw vegetables. Here's a little quote about ground beef for you: In 1999 it was estimated that about 73,000 people in the U.S. got sick each year from E. coli. About 60 died. It’s believed that the number of illnesses and deaths has been dropping since then. Come again, and this food is not as dangerous as raw milk?

The next thing I find interesting is that there were 2 people who got sick from pasteurized milk in that same time frame, oh but wait, they figure that was milk contaminated post pasteurization. Fair enough, but who said the raw milk didn't become contaminated after it left the farm.

I will say that I  agree with having a high standard for raw milk farms. I don't think you would want to eat at a restaurant that couldn't pass an inspection, a dairy farm should be the same.

You see peanut butter factories killing people with contaminated food, and no one outlaws peanut butter or even goes in and arrests the owners. Nope, we are allowed to decide for ourselves if we ever want to trust that brand again.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Milk, raw and pasteurized

As a dairy farmer I think there are things consumers should know.

Store bought, pasteurized milk does not contain antibiotics. Maybe it did years ago,but I don't know about that, I do know it does not now.
As a commercial dairy farm my milk is tested before it ever gets off the tanker. The hauler takes a sample of each farm with him to the lab, but then the processor takes a tanker sample to test for quality and antibiotics before they let him drop off his milk. If the tanker of milk  were found to be unacceptable, the farmer who contaminated the tanker would be buying a lot of milk. Each farm is regulated for these things daily, any farm not in compliance will be shut down if they can't fix their problems in a fair amount of time. Once the milk is pasteurized, all the bacteria, good or bad is killed making it safe for human consumption, because of this, there can be a bit more variables in the quality of the raw milk.

Raw milk on the other hand is a totally different creature. Raw milk contains living organisms and is not all equal. If you drink milk from a sick cow or milk that hasn't been cooled quickly as well as kept clean, you are setting yourself up for disappointment as well as the chance of getting sick. The quality of raw milk starts with the health of the cow and continues not just into the bulk tank, but the trip home and while it is at home. Like raw meat, you don't leave it in your hot car for 3 hours while you do your other shopping. You don't leave it on the counter the entire time you cook and eat breakfast. It needs special care because it has not been pasteurized.

My choice is to drink raw milk. I drink raw milk for several reasons, the first being that I know mine is clean and safe. The second reason is because I am just inclined to stay away from over processed foods of any sort. I don't make my biscuits from a can or a mix (not even if they are organic), I make them with flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, lard and my raw milk. I eat meat that I raised because it has never seen a growth hormone. I don't eat anything with extra preservatives, artificial flavors, or high fructose corn syrup (okay, I sneak a candy bar once in a great while). But my point is that I personally think eating what I raised or made from scratch just plain tastes better and I think it must be better for you.

What ever your choice is, make sure you are buying something safe and of high quality.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Going organic

Today Duane and I are headed to West Branch Michigan for a meeting with my friends at Bio Ag. I have worked with them a bit here and there after taking over the farm two years ago, but frankly I had way to much to learn all at once. So now that I have an award winning herd, my focus is going to the crops.

I did plant cover crops behind the corn last year, which is a small headstart into this years crop. I have also been planting conventional corn from the beginning. For those that aren't familiar with the term conventional, it just means plain corn, as in not altered by a chemical company to kill bugs that try to eat it, not resistant to the "killing all things green" round up.

So here's hoping I can master the art of crop management in a hury. Crops are not as simple as plant and harvest. First you need to know all the science that is going on between soil and plant and which plant uses which mineral.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

An update on Lauren and Janet

I know that family reads this blog, so I would like to update you all on how Lauren and Janet are doing.

Lauren has been on dialysis for quite some time now, I think about 2 years. He is doing pretty good, but he had some hard times recently. Two months ago he became so weak that he couldn't even cary on a conversation. This happened to him back in the summer, but that time it only lasted a day. This time it lasted for a couple weeks or more. We were concerned that he might not recover at all.

Thanks to the great care he got at Faith Haven, he did recover pretty good. He is still in a wheelchair because his legs remain weak, but at least his mind is back in order.  He can walk with the assistance of his walker for about 50 feet. He also likes to show off how good he can climb in any truck hauling him to good food!

Because of all this, Lauren decided to join Janet at Spring Arbor Assisted Living. He needs a bit more care than Duane and I can offer while running a farm. It was discussed that he should have 24 hour a day care.

Janet is doing great! She is glad to have her husband with her in her apartment. Granted, she is still of the mind set that she would rather go home. I certainly don't begrudge her that, but with that, she is happy to have her life companion with her again.

It's funny to see how two people who have bickered, loved, and who knows what, for 61 years can suddenly remind you of high school sweet hearts all over again. I love to see the twinkle in Lauren's eye when Janet makes plans to go home and take care of him. He still see's her as that girl he saw back in high school as he once told me "the prettiest girl he ever saw". I only hope that Duane looks at me like that when I am nearly 80 years old.

I'm sure even though I am also hard on Duane at times, I will want to take care of him in return for all the hard hours he has worked to take care of me and our children, just like his dad.

Their marriage hasn't always been a fairy tail, but it has lasted much longer than many. That says a lot to me.

A quality Trophy

We have spent the time that we have run the farm, perfecting it. That was my plan. Well I am proud to announce that for all the mistakes we have made, and we have made some, we are now producing the best quality milk in our 2 county area!

We were invited to a meeting by DHIA, they test each individual cow's milk production and quality for me once a month. Because I'm not all about high production, I didn't bother to go to the meeting. I didn't figure they cared about the quality I was trying to perfect. It was quite a surprise to me when a neighbor farmer called to congratulate me.

According to my farming neighbor, that I look up to as a great cattle man, I won a trophy for the highest quality in both counties and 6th place in production. What an honor that I missed out on. I guess my lesson is not to be so judgmental of those I think are judging me.