A Milk Cow And A Friend

I’ve milked many a dairy goat and cow over the years.  My favorite dairy cow of all time was Elvyra.  She was a beautiful light brown Jersey cow.  She was so smart and fun to spend time with.  But I did not choose her, she chose me. 

                          Elvyra and Cutie Blue, two of our Jersey milk cows eating hay in our pasture.

One day, I walked out into a field in Ohio to look at two Jersey cows a dairy farmer had for sale.  They were amongst 20+ cows that lived on an organic dairy farm.  I was only going to buy one cow, and either of these girls would do just fine for our family.  But this other cow kept coming up to me and stuck her head under my elbow.  She clearly wanted me to pet her.  I rubbed her neck and chin.  Then walked away to look over the cows that were for sale.  Again she followed me and nudged my waist and then stuck her head under my elbow and through the gap between my arm and torso.  She rubbed on me and looked at me with big brown eyes.  Over and over she repeated this process as I tried to walk through the field to observe the other cows.  She chose me and stayed by my side the rest of the time I was there, and we became friends. 

I asked the owner about her.  The owner quickly replied that she was not for sale.  But it was clear this cow was not going to give up, and neither was I.  After looking at the cows, I spent sometime looking over the farmer’s organic dairy operation.  I was amazed they made a living on milking 20 organic Jersey cows.  They had a small farm and kept their expenses to a minimum.  But amazingly their milk was sold to Organic Pastures and was collected every other day.  I sampled the milk, and it was delicious!

The operation was very clean and efficient even on this small scale for a dairy.  I have been inside both “Englisher” (a term for anyone not Amish) and Amish dairies.  Dairies are not always the cleanest places.  So it was really neat to see this small organic operation and how much better it was than most of the other dairies.   I told the owner I wanted time to think about the cows they had for sale, I just wasn’t sure.  A few days later I got a call.  They said that since I really wanted Elvyra (she’s the cow that chose me in the pasture and wouldn’t take “no or leave me alone” for an answer), then they would sell her to me.  I went right back and bought my family milk cow.

Three Goals:

My goals in getting a milk cow was first and foremost to aquire the freshest nourishing food as close to the source of production as possible.  When food is stored long term, its nutritional content can diminish.  Pasturized milk and homoginized milk have huge nutritional deficiencies because they have been altered through pasturization and homogenization processes and also because the milk has been sitting around  in refridgerated tanks on trucks, in warehouses, then more trucks, and grocery stores, for several weeks before you finally buy it at the grocery store.  It is not fresh.

Goal 1:  My first goal was to feed my children and family the freshest milk possible.

Goal 2:  My second goal was to feed my animals both baby animals, and supplement my chickens diet with extra protien as I did not give my chickens soymeal.  

Goal 3:  My third goal was to help feed my community.  We are part of a community of people wanting fresh milk.  So we set up a cow share program where several families share in the expense of caring for the cow.  To make it fair, each family bought a share of the cow and paid a monthly care expense.  In exchange, each family recieved a share of the milk the cow produced each week.  When a family no longer needed their share, they were free to sell it back to us for the price they paid for it, or to another family on the waiting list.

Labor Of Love:

Our homesteads have always been grass based.  The cows forage for most of their own feed by eating grasses and weeds in the field.  They have a fenced pasture to forage.  We rotate the cows on different areas of pasture to allow the pasture to grow new grass in areas that have been foraged.  We also overseed the pasture with clover in the spring and fall to build up the nutritional value of the pasture.  We supplement their foraging diet with timothy grass hay, clover hay, and orchard grass hay.  In the winter,  the cows eat more hay than in the spring, summer, and fall when fresh grass is plentiful. 

For the dairy cows, we also feed them alfalfa hay.  This hay helps to provide extra nutrients to give lactating cows a consistent and nutrient dense milk supply.  To lure the milking cow into the milking parlor be milked, we simply opened the door and called her by name.  She always anticipated a fresh flake of rich alfalfa hay top dressed with about a cup of a seed-herb blend that I made myself.  The seed blend contains oats, sunflower seed, flax seed, kelp, diotomacious earth, and raspberry leaves.  This is the same blend I feed my chickens too.  I do not feed grain or soybeans to the cows as it interferes with digestion and production of congilinolic acid in their milk and muscle.  But I do give my dairy cow 1 cup of this delicious seed herb mix to encourage her to stand still and to boost her nutrient production in the milk.  We placed this at the front of the milking area.  She simply walked in and up to her little bucket of hay and she let us tie a rope through her collar to keep her in position.  Then we could beging the milking process. 

For years I milked by hand.  Then one day I decided to strive for Grade A milk so I would have the freshest and cleanest milk possible and could share it with others, and I bought a milking machine that could milk one cow, or two goats at a time.  It is a stainless steel milk can, a claw of four milking sleeves, tubing, and an air compressor like machine.  A wonderful invention that definately is worth the investment


While the dairy
cow ate, we could clean her and attatch the milker.  
We offered her pure alfalfa hay and a homemade mix of sunflower seed, flax seed, kelp, and raspberry leaf blend to encourage her to stay while we milked her.  We did not give her grains like corn or soybeans that is typically fed to “modern” cows but was not fed traditionally. This was intentional, and the reason we avoided feeding these grains to our cows was to protect the quality of the milk and ensure a higher concentration of CLA.  

To clean her, we simply sprayed a mist of water on her teats and udder and wiped them off with a paper towel or a clean rag.  Then we would spray out a little bit of milk from each teat to be sure there was no bacteria from dirt or blockages inside the teat. To attach the milker, we turned on the machine and placed the teat sucker cups onto each teat.  The machine would pulse air presser and the rubber sleeve inside the teat cup acts as a hand and pulses on the teat.  It simulates a hand or a calf milking its mother.  The cow releases the milk in the teat and the pressure sprays it into the milking sleeve or claw.  The milk travels through tubing to a receptical.  Our receptical was a sealed stainless steel milking can.  She was always done eating before we were done milking. But she was a sweetie to continue to stand still until we were done.  It took about 10 minutes to milk her with the milking machine and we recieved about 4 gallons of milk each milking.  

After milking her we rubbed her teats with an herbal salve to prevent cracking or chaffing.  Then we turned her back out onto the pasture to join the other cows and her calf if she had one.  If she had a calf, then we would let them spend the day together and not milk her again in the evening.  But we would put the calf in a seperate pen at night so that she did not nurse first thing in the morning before we got the milking chores done.  
We quickly poured the milk through a strainer and into 1/2 gallon glass jars.  Elvyra’s milk would generally fill 8 or 9 of these jars.   Then the milk was capped and placed in a large stainless steel sink filled with ice water and topped with more ice.  Our goal was to reduce the temperature of the milk down to 34 degrees as quickly as possible.  

We wanted the best, freshest milk and this is how to achieve it.  If you can chill the fresh milk below 36 degrees within 30 minutes of milking the cow, it is considered grade A milk.  Our milk was better than Grade A.  It only took us about 15 minutes max to achieve the 34 degree temperatures.  

While the milk was cooling, then the milking gear was cleaned in another sink in a back room, and hung upside down on hooks to dry.  The room the cow was milked in was quickly hosed down to remove any mud, poop or pee, or spilled milk.  This prevented flies and critters from trying to invade the milk room. 

Once the milk was chilled, the jars were dried off and placed in a cooler or refrigerator to maintain the 34 degree temperature.  Our milk would stay fresh, and no change in taste or texture for weeks using this method.   Fresh milk, handled correctly is truly a super food.  It will not spoil.  Eventually after about three weeks, it will change into a naturally soured product similar to runny yogurt and sour cream.  It is still very usuable for making things within this naturally cultured state.  You can control what it becomes too by inoculating it with your own chosen cultures if you want certain types of sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt, kefir, etc.  My favorite way to use naturally soured milk was in baking cakes and breads, and also making chocolate deserts like cakes, fudge, puddings, etc.  

This labor of love was good for the whole family to help in.  We all had a special part we did.  Dad and one of the boys would call in Elvyra to be milked.  She walked in by herself and they would close the door behind her and hook her collar to a leash on the wall.  One of the kids would help feed her while dad or I cleaned her teats.  Then dad or I would hook up the milking machine.  After milking, dad would hand the milk can off to me to filter and pour into jars in an ice bath while he cleaned the rest of the equipment and hosed out the milk room.  The kids would help with each step of the milking process, help give the milk to the cow share holders on pick up day, and also take bottles full of fresh milk to the caves or young goats or to feed the chickens each day. The kids learned about where their milk came from, how to take care of it and how to use it to nourish a variety of life on the farm.  Homesteading is good for the whole family. 

How we used our fresh milk:

Elvyra’s milk tasted like melted ice cream.  It was so rich and delicious in your mouth.  Her milk was ranged from 40% cream.  Sometimes in the spring and fall when new grass was plentiful, her milk might climb to almost 50% cream.  The extra nourishment in the new lush grass produced an even richer milk.  Our other Jersey cow, named Cuttie Blue gave milk of about 30% cream.  

If you drink the milk within the first several hours of milking, there is not much separation of milk and cream.  However if left to sit for several hours or overnight, there is a clear separation as the cream rises to the top. If drinking milk older than a few hours, then we would save the top 1/2 inch or so of “top cream” (the thickest kind of cream) to make butter or whip cream.  But we always kept the rest of the cream together with the milk as it truly is a healthy food source.  

We usually drank milk that was straight from the cow in the mornings, and only a few hours old in the afternoons.  To drink it we just shook the jar vigorously to mix the milk and cream together if they had separated. 

Every day I fed my children fresh milk at each meal and if desired at snack time too.  The milk that was left over from our share, was&nbs
p;made into cheese, kefir, yogurt, and deserts, or fed to baby orphaned cows, or fed to the chickens and turkeys.  All of it was consumed and it never went to waste.

I know we were healthier and stronger for having consumed fresh raw milk this way.  We did not get sick as often as other families in our local area.  We seemed to have a stronger and healthier disposition from the nutrients and protection provided by the fresh milk.  Our animals were also heathier for consuming the milk too.  We fed baby animals (calves, sheep, goats, kittens, puppies, etc) with the fresh milk.  We fed extra milk and milk by products like whey to the chickens and turkeys too.  

Fresh Milk from grass fed cows contains way to many nutrients for me to list here.  But a few key nutrients I will say is congilenic acid (CLA), coq10, vit. K, vit. D, vit. C.  It also contains beneficial enzymes and olygosacarides.  Oligosacarides bind with harmful bacteria and viruses in our digestive system, and allow them to pass through us, and stop them from causing harm to our bodies.  There are at least 8 or 9 of these different oligosaccharide that help us.  You can’t get this amazing nourishing and protective combo anywhere else in your diet and this is why I believe it is so important.


Can you feed yourself and your community too?

Yes.  An average Jersey milk cow will yeild 3+ gallons of milk each milking. Some might yeild as much as 5 or 6 gallons a milking.  If you milk her twice a day then that is at least 6 gallons (and upto possibly 10-12 gallons) of milk each day.  If you don’t need all of it (fresh beverage for your family, cooking and making deserts and yogurt and cheese, baby animals on the farm (all baby farm animals love milk), or for animal feed (use the whey from baking and cheese making ) for the chickens, pigs, etc), you can share it with your community!   

Let me say that again, I want to be sure you heard me.  YOU CAN SHARE FRESH MILK.   If your state allows you to set up a cow share program, then do it!  If they allow you to sell fresh milk right from the farm as they do in South Carolina, then do that too.  If they allow you to sell it pet grade then do that.  Barter with it too.  Share it with your community.  People in your community need access to fresh nutrient dense milk.     

It is currently illegal in many states in the USA to sell fresh milk.  But there are many states that do allow fresh milk sales or allow cow shares.  It is illegal in Indiana to sell fresh milk for human consumption.  You can sell it for pet consumption or “pet grade” and you can also have herd shares in Indiana.  We offered a cow share program on our Indiana farm.  Other families in our community could buy a share of the milk cow, or milk cows (we had two), and pay for the room and board and labor to milk the cow and care for the milk.  In exchange, they could pick up a share of the milk each week.  We shared the milk with 9 to 10 families each week.  

A typical share of a dairy cow is equal to a gallon of milk.  Basically to find the amount of shares a cow can produce you look at her yearly average of gallons of milk she can produce, then divide that by how many share holders you have.  A share is a one time fee and the farmer or another person can buy back the share when the family no longer needs it.  

You can set the price of the share at what ever price you decide.  Our shares cost $50 one time fee and $20 monthly room and board fee.  Families can buy as many shares of the animals as they wish or that are available.  So a family who bought a share for $50 (refundable when they no longer wished to participate) paid a monthly boarding / labor fee of $20 (non-refundable) and came out each week to pick up a gallon of fresh milk.    

We have had many friends in Indiana cow share programs and the prices can vary alot. One friend with 20 cows had about 400 families picking up milk each week, and had a waiting list of close to another 100 waiting to buy shares.  At her farm, it cost $100 a share and $40 a month for room and board in the summer, and around $60 a month in the winter due to increase hay usage.  I also had an Amish friend who set up a cow share program.  They charged $1 for the share, and $8 for the monthly room and board.  Each farmer can use their own discretion in setting up share prices and room and board fees.  Then generally you sign a herd share contract to seal the deal.  It is a win win for the farmer and the community.

I am hoping to get a milk cow again someday.  We sold our farm in Indiana in 2008 to move to North Carolina.  It was hard to say goodbye to Elvira.  I cried many tears for many months over saying goodbye to her. Though we love farming, my husband makes his living in construction.  The economy in Indiana (as many states across the nation) was experiencing a deep recession and he took a construction management job in NC.  While we lived in NC we bought raw milk across the state line in South Carolina.  I was so thankful for the SC raw milk resource so that we could continue to provide raw milk for our kids even though we were not on a farm with our own cow.

We moved back to Indiana around the end of May 2013, and we are slowly setting up a homestead little by little.  I would love to have fresh milk again as I firmly believe it is so important for children to have this nutrient dense resource.  I believe it is good for all of us, but especially for my children who are growing and developing.  I would even love to have a nubian dairy goat again too. I love making feta cheese, fudge, and homemade soap with goats milk.  But I don’t know when or if this will happen.   I don’t know if I will ever find a cow as wonderful as Elvira again.  I still miss her.  She was a great milk cow, a wonderful family pet, a great resource to the community, and a friend.

Want to learn more about real nutirent dense foods check out the Weston A Price Foundation.   http://www.westonaprice.org/
Where to find REAL MILK in your community, (click on the link inside the real milk website called real milk finder):

Check out Local Harvest to find more local farm products near you:

This post will be linked up with:
Raising Homemakers
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About Melinda Weiser

I am a sinner, saved by grace. I am on a journey and offer to share my story with the hope that it will bless you. My one desire is to bring glory to my creator. I am a wife and the mother of 6 children, plus two in heaven. I enjoy homeschooling, research, teaching, homesteading, natural gardening, grass based farming, cooking, fresh raw milk, herbs, children, midwifery, and music. I am a writer, biblical mentor, and also work part time in the healthy foods and vitamin business www.weisernaturalfoods.com I have a BSW degree from Kansas State University, and trained professionally as a medical social worker, biblical counselor, tutor, and vocal performer. Thank you for stopping by to read about our homeschool and family life adventures. Be blessed!

4 thoughts on “A Milk Cow And A Friend

  1. Marcia

    This was the perfect article for me right now! Last week I had my first sip of goats milk from a goat that delivered two bucklings. Two more are set to deliver soon. I think I want to milk them but it’s a “maybe’.

    I’ve been thinking of a cow. Want to get that book “The Family Cow”. Some naysayers say Humans shouldn’t drink cow milk, the molecules are 100 times larger than goats milk and it’ hard to digest though we force our bodies to do so. It is NOT forbidden by The Bible that I know of. What do you say wonderful Melinda?

  2. Theresa Capri plus 3

    That is a sweet story about how you found your dairy cow. I love that you are doing a community milk sharing program. What a great idea! I found you on the Click & chat social media link up and am now following you on Pinterest.

  3. Weiser Academy

    I say the evidence says it is a healthy human food used for thousands of years.  It is a real food.  Not a fake food or man made food.  God took the Isrealites to the land flowing with “milk and honey”.  God only gives good and perfect gifts.  Milk is a good and perfect gift given to mankind for our nutritional needs.  It is full of nutrition and protection for our bodies.  Read the evidence.  Look at real science and nutrient data.  You will see that what some misguided folks are saying just doesn’t add up.  I hope you do milk your goat, and I hope you can get a cow too.  Enjoy this wonderful gift of fresh nutrient dense food.  Be blessed!

  4. Weiser Academy

    Thank you for stopping by Theresa.  I hope I can be a source of encouragement to you.  Be blessed!


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