Category Archives: Raw Milk

Your Right To Eat Healthy Living Food

You are at RISK! 

The risk is not a disease.  It is not a germ.  It is not a crime. 

No, you are at risk of loosing your right to eat!  

You are at risk of loosing your very health and wellbeing.  You are at risk of loosing your constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  You are at risk of loosing your most basic freedoms.

The FDA arm of the government has decided to take away your right to eat fresh nutrient dense whole food from the farm.

Please read this article with all seriousness.  Your very right to life depends on it.

This article below was written by Dr. Mercola, and is reprinted with permission.

On May 16th, Representative Ron Paul asked,

“If we are not even free anymore to decide something as basic as what we wish to eat or drink, how much freedom do we really have left?”

Paul was talking about the FDA ban on the interstate sale of raw milk for human consumption — milk that has not been pasteurized. The ban began in 1987, but the FDA didn’t really begin enforcing it seriously until 2006 — when the government began sting operations and armed raids of dairy farmers and their willing customers.

The New American reports:

“Even if the FDA were correct in its assertions about the dangers of raw milk, its prohibition on interstate raw milk sales would still be, as Paul termed it, ‘an unconstitutional misapplication of the commerce clause for legislative ends’ …

Saying he is ‘outraged’ by the FDA’s raids on peaceful dairy farmers and their customers, Paul has introduced legislation … ‘to allow the shipment and distribution of unpasteurized milk and milk products for human consumption across state lines,’ in effect reversing the FDA’s unconstitutional ban on such sales.”

The “Food Safety Modernization Act” that was enacted earlier this year gives the FDA almost unlimited authority to decide if food is harmful, even without credible evidence. But farmers who have been persecuted by the FDA for selling raw milk, like Amish Farmer Dan Allgyer, are not backing down. Allgyer’s case is going to court.

Citizens are irate that the FDA allows damaging junk food, but prevents people from making an educated, informed food choice in purchasing raw grass-fed milk.

According to the Washington Times, Attorney Jonathan Emord, who has defeated the FDA in court eight times, is focusing on the deeper issues that this case stems from. Emord says:

“We would not be here today were it not for the fact that over the past seventy-five years, the Congress of the United States has delegated away to some 230 independent regulatory commissions the power to make law, the power to execute the law, and the power to judge law violation. That delegation of governing power from Congress to the unelected heads of the regulatory agencies violates the Constitution, which vests exclusively in Congress the obligation to make law”.



Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

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The war on raw milk, which is really an unconstitutional assault on one of your most basic rights, i.e. your right to choose what you want to eat and drink, is now in full swing and will likely intensify in the days ahead.

Amish Farmer Raided at Gun Point

Dan Allgyer, an Amish farmer, was recently caught in an FDA sting operation, after the agency planted a spy in local buying club he supplies, “Grassfed On The Hill”, back in October of 2009 to gather evidence against him. His farm was raided at gun point, and eventually the Department of Justice, at the behest of FDA, filed suit in Federal District Court to obtain an injunction prohibiting Allgyer from transporting and selling raw milk across state lines.

This isn’t the first time the FDA has spent US tax dollars to violently clamp down on “illegal interstate commerce,” by raw milk farmers, all under the guise of doing their job and protecting the public’s health…

Any level-headed person would argue that this is a poorly shrouded sham, seeing how the FDA has continuously allowed known toxins into the food supply, and those who willingly choose to harm their health are free to do so by consuming too much sugar, artificial non-food-based items, alcohol, and toxic cigarettes.

Logic notwithstanding, food safety chief and former Monsanto lawyer Michael Taylor recently defended the FDA’s spying and gun-toting tactics against raw milk producers, stating that they’re simply doing their job, calling the campaign “a public health duty” based on “statutory directive.” And it may actually get worse than it already is, if we don’t stop it. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle explains:

“The FDA is in the midst of writing the critical regulations that will implement the Food Safety Modernization Act Congress passed last year with applause all around from the Obama administration, Democrats and Republicans despite ferocious opposition from small-farm advocates. The sweeping new law gives the agency extraordinary powers to detain foods on farms. It also denies farmers recourse to federal courts.

On July 3, the agency will issue its new rule to detain any food it believes is unsafe, or, more critically, “mislabeled.” In Allgyer’s case, the entire FDA case rests on a technical violation of a ban on interstate commerce in raw milk and alleged mislabeling.

Before the new law, the FDA could only impound food when it had credible evidence the food was contaminated or posed a public health hazard. The detention powers are part of what Taylor described as a new agency focus on preventing food poisoning outbreaks rather than responding to them after the fact. Taylor described the new law as giving the agency “farm to table” control over food safety.”

Taylor also stated that he will seek a “high rate of compliance” with the new rules. Compliance will be made all the more “effective” once the FDA gets its new and improved tool kit of enforcement, which will include:

  • Access to farm records

  • Mandatory recall authority

  • New administrative enforcement actions

  • Ability to revoke a farm’s mandatory registration (which will be a new requirement under the law)

Support Bill to Legalize Your Right to Choose!

Allgyer taking on the FDA in court is a classic case of David vs. Goliath. At stake is the issue of consumer choice and food freedom — something most people would agree is an absolute, basic, and unalienable right.

The case has even brought the ire and attention of Congressman Ron Paul (TX), who in response introduced House Bill HR 1830: To authorize the interstate traffic of unpasteurized milk and milk products that are packaged for direct human consumption.

The incident is just one in a long string of raids on small farms, indicating that the FDA is quite serious about its attempt to eliminate food freedom for all Americans. And as feared, the “Food Safety Modernization Act,” which was enacted earlier this year, gives the FDA the jurisdiction and near unlimited authority to single-handedly decide if a food is harmful, without having to produce credible evidence to support their case.

Ron Paul’s bill would undo at least some of the damage, as it would make it legal for farmers to sell and distribute raw milk across state lines to those who wish to obtain it.

I cannot urge you strongly enough to support Ron Paul’s bill, HR 1830, and inform everyone you know. This issue has nothing to do with whether or not you want to drink raw milk, and everything to do with whether or not you want the right to chose what you feed your family. If we allow the US government to remove our right to raw milk, who knows what’s next?!

They could decide you don’t have the right to obtain or eat fresh vegetables, or no right to buy or drink water.

Sound ludicrous? So is the idea that you do not have the right to drink raw milk, a natural food that has been consumed for thousands of years and has proven health benefits. Considering the fact that we’ve seen more and more outbreaks of the rare virulent forms of E.coli and other pathogens being traced back to fresh produce, I see no reason why the FDA might not decide to make fresh vegetables illegal. Ditto for water, as water shortages may eventually become a reality, prompting the need to dramatically curb water consumption, and what better means than by force of law backed up with firepower?

The Farm-to-Consumer Defense Fund has created a petition page for HR 1830 that also automatically faxes your message to your US Senators and House Representative. You can even choose to send your message to your nearest daily newspaper.

I urge you to take a moment to sign the petition right now!

How Did We Get to This Point?

During a recent peaceful demonstration in D.C. in support of Allgyer, attorney Jonathan Emord explained how we got to the point where we must now FIGHT for our right to ingest a healthful food.

“We would not be here today were it not for the fact that over the past 75 years, the Congress of the United States has delegated away to some 230 independent regulatory commissions the power to make law, the power to execute the law, and the power to judge law violation. That delegation of governing power from Congress to the unelected heads of the regulatory agencies violates the Constitution, which vests exclusively in Congress the obligation to make law.

Nine-tenths of all laws are no longer the product of our elected representatives; they are created by the unelected heads of the bureaucratic agencies. Those agency heads are unaccountable to the courts, the Congress, and the American people. One such agency that engages in this unconstitutional governance is the Food and Drug Administration. It is the action of that agency that we examine today, because it offends the very foundation of liberty of our Republic.”

In short, we as Americans have failed to keep our eyes on the ball. We grew complacent; lulled into non-action and non-participation by the illusion that “Government is taking care of our needs.”

Meanwhile, our rights to life, liberty and freedom have eroded away, and this is the end result: An agency of the government, paid for by your tax dollars and the drug industry, claims you have no inherent human right to eat any particular food. Yes. That’s not a misinterpretation. They now declared that this is exactly their position, and it’s written in black and white…

FDA Claims to have God-Like Authority Over Your Life

Attorneys for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF, a not for profit organization founded to protect the right of farmers and consumers to engage in direct commerce) helped to draft the text of HR 1830. FTCLDF has also filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on behalf of eight plaintiffs, challenging the legality of the FDA ban on interstate distribution of raw milk for human consumption.

FTCLDF president, Pete Kennedy, stressed that the FDA is making it clear that even individual consumers crossing state lines to purchase raw milk and bringing it back to their home state are violating the law. The ban is not just limited to farmers selling the milk.

On April 26, 2010, the FDA submitted its initial response to this lawsuit, in which the FTCLDF asserts the unconstitutionality of the ban on raw milk in interstate commerce. In its answer, the FDA clearly states its position on the “freedom of food choice” in general, and your right to obtain and consume raw milk in particular. Their answer reads in part:

  • “Plaintiffs’ assertion of a new ‘fundamental right’ to produce, obtain, and consume unpasteurized milk lacks any support in law.” [p. 4]

  • “It is within HHS’s authority . . . to institute an intrastate ban [on unpasteurized milk] as well.” [p. 6]

  • “Plaintiffs’ assertion of a new ‘fundamental right’ under substantive due process to produce, obtain, and consume unpasteurized milk lacks any support in law.” [p.17]

  • “There is no absolute right to consume or feed children any particular food.” [p. 25]

  • “There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds.” [p. 26]

  • “Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.” [p. 26]… “Even if such a right did exist, it would not render FDA’s regulations unconstitutional because prohibiting the interstate sale and distribution of unpasteurized milk promotes bodily and physical health.” [p. 27]

  • There is no fundamental right to freedom of contract.” [p. 27]

Essentially, while the fight currently revolves around your right to obtain and consume raw milk, the FDA claims to have the power to restrict your access to any kind of food it deems harmful, because you have no fundamental right to obtain and eat any particular food whatsoever!

The statements made by the FDA truly challenge the rational mind and rattle the core of any freedom-loving soul.

Aside from the fact that most people assume they have the right to ingest any food they see fit, United States law has also given us the freedom to enter into private contracts as we choose. In the case of raw milk, increasing numbers of people have elected to obtain their milk through contractual arrangements such as buyers club agreements and herdshare contracts. Here, the FDA claims that there is no fundamental right to freedom of contract in the United States!

As the FTCLDF states on its website:

“As for the agency’s contention that there is no fundamental right to obtain any food, including raw milk, here is what the ‘substantive due process’ clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

Obtaining the foods of your choice is so basic to life, liberty and property that it is inconceivable that the ‘right of food choice’ would not be protected under the Constitution…”

Kentucky Raw Milk Consumers Get a Rude Awakening

A recent blog post by Kimberly Hartke highlights the sense of shock felt when people suddenly realize that the government’s over-reach now affects them personally. A food club based in Louisville, Kentucky recently got a visit from the county health inspector, who promptly issued a cease and desist order when he saw that raw milk was being sold. He also placed all the milk on the premises under quarantine.

The members of the club have leased cows from a Kentucky dairy farm and have ownership rights in the milk produced. To say they were shocked when they were told they could not pick up their personal property would be an understatement, but once the fear subsided, they turned angry, and then resolve set in.

Hartke quotes one of the club members, Dr. Joslin:

“We had heard about government actions against other farmers, but it didn’t hit home until last Friday. My wife turned to me and said, ‘we could lose our milk, and I am ready to fight this’.”

She goes on to write:

“When asked how he felt about the health inspector’s visit, he said, “I felt violated. This is my freedom, my choice. You don’t have any right to tell me that I can’t feed my family something that has been consumed all over the world for thousands of years. Pasteurization is something new, in fact, fresh milk may be more commonly consumed worldwide, than processed milk.”

More than 90 percent of the club members responded to the threat by ignoring the quarantine and picking up their milk. But they also signed a document of their own. Affirming their legal right to enter into private contracts, their document included the following passages from the Kentucky Constitution:

Section 1: Rights of life, liberty, worship, pursuit of safety and happiness, free speech, acquiring and protecting property, peaceable assembly, redress of grievances, bearing arms. Section 10: The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions, from unreasonable search and seizure; and no warrant shall issue to search any place, or seize any person or thing, without describing them as nearly as may be, nor without probable cause supported by oath or affirmation.

Section 19: No ex post facto law, nor any law impairing the obligation of contracts, shall be enacted. Section 26: To guard against transgression of the high powers which we have delegated, We Declare that everything in this Bill of Rights is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate; and all laws contrary thereto, or contrary to this Constitution, shall be void.

Hartke goes on to write:

“Dr. Joslin and his wife are typical of the consumers that choose local, fresh milk to feed their families. They are well educated, they did a tremendous amount of research before making the transition, and they had a compelling health reason (their children) to do so. They also are typical in the sense that they believe in the American ideals of personal liberty and right to private property, limited government.

“I do not hate our government or system of government,” stresses Joslin, “Rather, I am a patriot, a flag waver, and I thank our veterans. But, my priority is to protect my family’s liberty. I will not lie down.”

Motives, Misconceptions, and Ignorance

“The ban on raw milk crossing state lines is an economic regulation disguised as a health regulation,” Pete Kennedy points out. For those who cannot understand what this has to do with economics, you must understand that Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s) simply cannot compete with grassfed raw milk farms, and therefore stand to lose a lot of money as raw milk becomes increasingly popular.

They cannot compete because in order for milk to be safely consumed raw, it should come from cows fed a forage based diet that includes pasture. CAFO-derived milk should not be consumed raw given the elevated risk of hazardous pathogens in the milk—an inevitable side effect of the environment in which these cows are raised.

The reason why they’re trying to shut down raw milk farmers is because so many people consume raw milk and raw milk dairy products, and the numbers are growing every year. One 2008 survey conducted by the CDC found there were over nine million raw milk drinkers in the US, and today, the number of raw milk consumers is estimated to be in the neighborhood of 12-13 million. When you consider that each family can consume a few gallons of milk per week, it all starts adding up, and Big Dairy is losing business.

Additionally, Kennedy stated that raw milk can be a “gateway to small farm prosperity”. Families who initially set foot on the farm to obtain raw milk typically end up purchasing other farm products such as produce, eggs, poultry and meat.

The CDC’s study also highlights the error of the claim that raw milk poses a significant health risk. With that many millions of raw milk consumers, it’s quite clear that grassfed raw milk is extremely safe, because there are so few foodborne illness outbreaks attributable to it.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, while the FDA has the authority to declare foods safe or unsafe, they do not have experts in their employ with the intellectual aptitude to find the relevant research and data to help them understand the food. It’s quite clear that the FDA still has no understanding whatsoever of the differences between the production of raw milk intended for pasteurization by a CAFO or other conventional dairy and the production of raw milk intended for direct human consumption by a small farm.

Conventional CAFO milk must be pasteurized in order to conform to the distribution process and elimination of the elevated risk of pathogens that are present because of the conditions in which the cows are kept. But milk from a healthy cow that is fed a balanced diet that includes pasture and has access to clean and comfortable shelter has a lower risk of a pathogen presence and has a different quality profile than that of CAFO milk.

FDA enforcement actions have not been limited to raw milk farmers. Recently the agency cost award-winning cheese makers Kelly and Anthony Estrella their business.

Without a shred of evidence that her hand-crafted cheeses had made anyone sick, the FDA was able to shut down the Estrella Family Creamery based on environmental and cheese sample test results that were positive for the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono.). There are many subtypes of L. mono., most have not been found to cause illness in humans. Instead of determining whether the L. mono. found at the creamery was a virulent subtype—something the FDA had the capability to do—the FDA shut down the dairy through a seizure order without any further testing.

And so, the agency put out of business cheesemakers that had won numerous awards both in the US and internationally based on nothing more than a misconceived suspicion that her methods of cheese production and storage might be “unsanitary.” Never mind the fact that high-quality raw cheeses MUST undergo certain fermentation processes and storage conditions in order to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria and so on…

Cheese making is an art form that has been perfected over numerous generations, the products from which have been consumed and valued for their superior taste and nutrition for ages. The FDA has considered raising the aging requirement for raw cheese from sixty days to ninety days further limiting the amount and variety of raw cheeses in this country. Europe has no aging requirement.

But according to the FDA, you don’t have the right to eat high-quality unpasteurized cheese—because they say so.

Farmageddon Premiere

Farmageddon: The Unseen War on American Family Farms is a documentary by Kristin Canty that will likely make the government’s overreach an even hotter topic. It premiered on June 17 at the West End Theater in Washington D.C. For a full list of scheduled venues, please see the film’s screening page.

The film’s synopsis reads in part:

Farmageddon tells the story of small, family farms that were providing safe, healthy foods to their communities and were forced to stop, sometimes through violent action, by agents of misguided government bureaucracies, and seeks to figure out why.

… Instead of focusing on the source of food safety problems — most often the industrial food chain — policymakers and regulators implement and enforce solutions that target and often drive out of business small farms that have proven themselves more than capable of producing safe, healthy food, but buckle under the crushing weight of government regulations and excessive enforcement actions.

Farmageddon highlights the urgency of food freedom, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals’ rights to access food of their choice…”

I encourage you to view this film if you can. The DVD release is expected in the late fall or winter.

I also encourage you to consider making a donation to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF). This 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization enables targeted farmers to keep their businesses open, whereas they would otherwise have no choice but to close down due to insurmountable legal and financial pressure. Your donations, although not tax deductible, will be used to support the litigation, legislative, and lobbying efforts of the FTCLDF.

Additional Action Alert!

I also want to alert you to yet another related and important action item, namely the natural versus industrial trans fat labeling in restaurant food. There’s a provision in the new health care act that requires nutrition labeling of standardized menu selections at restaurant chains with 20 or more locations.

The FDA is currently accepting public comment for this proposed regulation, which would require natural and healthy trans fats from ruminant animals to be labeled in the same manner as health-damaging industrial health fats such as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.

As explained by the Weston A Price Foundation:

“Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil contains harmful trans fat, known to increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and type two diabetes. But ruminant animals (cows, sheep, goats) also make trans fat, which is stored in their fat and butterfat. Ruminant trans fat is transformed into conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which can prevent cancer and has other health benefits.

Because there is little or no cooked meat in most packaged foods, and because serving sizes are modest, the ruminant trans fat present in these foods is usually less than 0.5g per serving. Below this amount the trans fat is labeled as 0g per serving. But a hamburger made with a quarter pound of 20 percent fat ground beef has a trans fat level of about 0.6g. And with a slice of cheese it is 0.8g. The fat in beef has about 5 percent trans fat and milk fat has about 3.5 percent.

As proposed, the trans fat in natural animal fats will be declared on menus. This is because the regulations make no distinction between industrial and ruminant trans fat..

In Europe, the regulations do not mandate trans fat labeling for ruminant trans fats, as scientists there recognize the difference between healthy trans fats in butter and meat fat, and unhealthy industrial trans fats.”

The FDA is accepting public comments through July 5. I urge you to contact the FDA and voice your concerns. Please tell the FDA that all trans fat is NOT the same. A new category: “Industrial trans fat” should replace trans fat for nutrition labeling as this would not subject healthy ruminant fats to pejorative labeling.

To submit a comment electronically, please follow these instructions:

  1. Open the website, and click Submit a Comment.

  2. Enter docket number FDA-2011-F-0172 in the keyword space.

  3. Click Search.

  4. Go to the far right on the screen labeled 1 result for FDA-2011-F-0172 and click submit a comment.

You may also submit your comment via U.S. Postal Service:

Send your letter to:

The Division of Dockets Management
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fisher Lane
Rockville, MD 20852

It is important to write the docket number FDA-2011-F-0172 on each page.


If you would like to know more about the health benefits of fresh raw milk, please visit Dr. Mercola ,  Real Milk , and the Weston A Price Foundation websites. 

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Have you heard of kefir?

If you like yogurt, you are going to love kefir! 

The product resembles a runny yogurt, but is made with a completely different culture.

It tastes similar to a slightly carbonated yogurt. 

You can buy kefir pre-made in stores, or you can make it yourself.  In stores you will find plain, and many wonderful flavors like raspberry, peach, vanilla, straberry, etc.  Prices usually range from $4 to $6 a quart.

Several brands are easy to locate in stores and taste wonderful:


My favorite brand is the Helios.  It just tastes great, and I love to drink it straight from the bottle as soon as I pick up some from the store.  If you are out grocery shopping, and get really hungry and thirsty, this is a perfect snack.  So much better for you than a soda pop.  Refreshing and rejuvinating! 

I used to sell this product in my healthy foods store Weiser Farms Natural Country Store.  I stocked four flavors on our shelves, vanilla, plain, raspberry, and strawberry.  I couldn’t hardly keep it in stock.   So many of our customers knew it was a nourishing nutrient dense food.  Many of our customers were dealing with severe health issues, and they used this product in daily smoothies to help them recover and get their health back on track.

Nourishing Kefir Smoothie

1 cup kefir plain or flavored  (good source of vitamin D, and various probiotics that aid in digestion and help the body to make vitamins such as vitamin B in the digestive tract)
1 cup coconut milk ( in the can, great for lauric acid and many other nutrients)
1 banana  (good source of potasium and other nutrients)
1 cup frozen blueberries or berry blend. (source of antioxidents, immune boosting nutrients and vitamins such as C and betta carrotene precurser to vitamin A)
1 tablespoon whey powder from grass fed cows or goats (this contains complete amino acids for building up the body’s tissues)
1 tablespoon flax oil (good source of omega oils)
1 tablespoon expeller pressed wheat germ oil (good source of natural vitamin E)

Blend until smooth.  Drink up!

Some folks also included raw egg yolks from free range chickens.  Also could include a pealed apple to increase sweetness if needed, or use a natural sweetener such as sucanat, evaporated cane juice, maple syrup, or stevia.  We prefer to use the apple.

Kefir is so delicious and nutritious.

Nutritional Information About Kefir

This is a quote from Dr. Mercola’s website on kefir nutrition:

“The exceptional nutritional content of Kefir offers a wealth of healthy benefits to people in every type of condition. More than just beneficial bacteria, Kefir contains minerals and essential amino acids that help your body with its natural healing powers and maintenance functions.

The complete proteins in Kefir are partially digested and therefore more easily utilized by the body.

Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids abundant in Kefir, is well-known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Because it also offers loads of calcium and magnesium — both of which are critical for a healthy nervous system — Kefir in the diet can have a particularly calming effect on the nerves.

Rich in vitamin B12, B1, and vitamin K, Kefir is an excellent source of biotin, a B vitamin which aids the body’s absorption of other B vitamins, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B12. The many advantages of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the normal function of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping promote healthy looking skin, boosting energy and promoting longevity. Kefir’s ample supply of phosphorus — the second most abundant mineral in our bodies — helps utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy.”

Kefir Culture

You can make Kefir at home for pennies yourself.  Just aquire milk and kefir culture.  Very simple!

You can buy the culture in active live cluster form, or active dehydrated live powdered form. 

The active live culture ‘grains” will give you the ability to “re-make the product” everyday from re-using the strained culture “grains” or clusters. 

Making kefir from the dry powdered method, you will need to buy a packet of powedered culture each time you want to make it.  It has most but not all the benefits of using the live grains or clusters.  But is still a very nutritious drink, and even easier to make.

Here is a picture of live kefir “grains” in the bottom of a mason jar.

Kefir grains will culture fresh milk or pasturized milk.

I prefer to use Fresh Grade A Raw Milk when making kefir.  It has more available nutrients to feed the culture and to feed me.   I buy my raw milk from a local farmer in South Carolina.  You can read more about it here.

Kefir is so easy to make.  Much easier than making yogurt in my opinion, as there is no heating involved.  It incubates on its own at room temperature right on the kitchen counter.

How To Make Kefir

Here is the method I use to make kefir, using the live “grains” or clusters:

Into a clean bowl, strain the kefir.  This lets you gently seperate the finished kefir liquid from the culture “grains”.

Into another clean bowl, rinse the kefir “grains” or clusters with a cup or so of fresh grade A raw milk.  I like to rinse them two or three times, very gently so as not to break the clusters.

Using a plastic or wooden spoon, scoop the grains out of the strainer and place them into a clean quart size jar.

Add Fresh Grade A Raw Milk.  I fill my jar 3/4 full.  How much milk you use depends on how many grains you have in your jar.  I use about two tablespoons of grains.

Cover jar with a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band.

Leave the jar on the counter at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours.  Most people leave it for about 24 hours.  But it is fun to experiement, and I like the less tart kefir (12-24 hours) for drinking, and the more tart (24-48 hours) kefir for baking and making deserts.     I have also noticed that my “grains” grow larger and double in quantity faster, if I give them a little longer incubation times.  This works wonderfully if you plan to give away your extra “grains” to friends and family.

Repeat this process every 12 hours to 48 hours, and refridgerate any unused kefir product, until ready to use.  It keeps a very long time in the refridgerator.  I have been in situations where I made a huge surplus and put up several jars in refridgerator,  and it has kept perfectly over six months or more.

I have also put my cultures to sleep in the refridgerator, such as when I have gone on vacation, or been pregnant and had no desire for anything for a while.  Put the cultures in a fresh jar of raw milk in the refridgerator and they will slowly go to sleep.  When you are ready to wake them up, set the jar back out on the counter for 12 to 24 hours.  Then repeat the steps to make kefir.  They will wake back up and go back to work.

How To Use Kefir

Drink IT!!!

Drink it straight of flavor it with sweetner and fruit juice.

Kefir is great in smoothies too.  By adding fruit, it tames the tartness and even children beg for more.

You can strain the kefir in a cheese cloth or cheese strainer for several hours and make kefir cheese, similar to cream cheese or yogurt cheese.  It is a soft spreadable cheese.

I love making kefir frosting for cinamon rolls and kefir glaze for bunt cakes.  Just add powdered sugar to the kefir until you have a nice glaze for icing your rolls.  You can flavor it with vanilla extract, almond extract, or a teaspoon of orange juice too, to vary the flavor for different uses. 

When adding kefir to your bread, muffin, cake, and pancake recipes, you get a much fluffier product.  It causes the yeast in the bread recipe to be extra active too.  So be prepared for a high rise!

Kefir give chocolate products a wonderful flavor.

Use kefir in place of any recipe that calls for buttermilk, milk, yogurt, etc.  Use kefir cheese in any recipe that calls for cream cheese, and some that call for sour cream.  It is great for replacing sour cream in making savory dips too. 

Want to learn more?

I first learned about Kefir over 10 years ago from an Amish friend.  We lived in Indiana and I met an Amish woman very different from most in their community.  She made all sorts of fermented drinks and she loaned me her cookbook called Nourishing Traditions through the Weston Price Foundation.  She also gave me several magazines also written by the Weston Price Foundation.   Reading this material changed my life for the better, and I know it will change yours for the better too.  This is a true treasure chest full of real people, real food, and real truth about health and nutrition. 

Articles and more on the Weston A Price Foundation website.

Books that had a huge impact on my understanding of health and nutrition are:
Restoring Your Gut by Jordan Rubin MD
What The Bible Says About Healthy Living by Rex Russel MD
Know Your Fats by Dr. Mary Enig
Eat Fat Loose Fat by Dr. Mary Enig
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

Where To Buy

Where to buy healthy books and kefir “grains” or live culture clusters?

Where to buy kefir culture powder?

Body Ecology

Dr. Mercola

Where to buy whey powder from grass fed animals for making smoothies?

Dr. Mercola  whey from grass fed cows

Garden Of Life  whey from pastured goats

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Saturday Brunch and Nourishing Pancakes

I cooked up a yummy brunch on Saturday, and I just had to share!

On Saturday, we spent the day resting at home.  No one was sick either, we just rested.  Dad slept in.  Then later took a nap too.  Wow a day of true rest.  That does not happen around here very often.  Though we are told in the scriptures to work six days and rest on the seventh.    Weekends are always full of fun outings with dad, grocery shopping, house and yard work, church, picking up raw milk and other produce at farms, and nursing home visits.  Whew!  Our weekends are always a whirlwind! 

But Saturday we rested.  It was especially nice. 

For lunch (brunch) we were all satisfied after eating this super yummy meal.

On The Menu

Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Maple Syrup
Fried Potatoes
Fried Eggs
Fruit Salad
Tea, Southern Style “sweet”
Raw Milk

for the next 45 minutes, your stove and you are going to be really busy!  But with sweet rewards!!!

Start the tea in a pan of almost boiling water.   Let your tea bags sit for 5 to 7 minutes or so in the hot water.  We like a blend of Lipton and Tetley tea bags.   I make it a little strong.  By the time we pour it over a tall glass of ice, it is the perfect consistency, not to weak and not to strong.  Sweeten to taste.  My husband likes it unsweetened on ice.   I use sucanat sugar to sweeten tea.  We also served raw milk as an option to drink.

Next make the bacon.  Cook up your bacon according to package directions.  When the bacon is done, remove to a plate with paper towels to absorb any excess fat.    We used Applegate Farms bacon with no preservatives and no nitrites and no nitrates!  Yum.   

After removing bacon from the pan, add in about 1/4 cup additional oil to the pan drippings.  I used expeller pressed grape seed oil.  This oil is perfect for frying.  And no free radicals that you get from frying with other oils (corn, soybean, canola, “vegetable blends”, peanut, crysco, and olive oils).   Other good oils for frying are expeller pressed safflower oil, coconut oil, and ghee. 

Bring up the temperature of the pan to at least medium, and then add in the pealed and diced potato fries.   I used 4 medium potatoes for this skillet full.  It takes two skillets for my family of 7 people.  Cover and cook on medium heat.  Cook covered for about 10 minutes to 15 minutes.  This helps to cook the inside of the potato before the outside browns.  Then remove the cover and cook for another 20 minutes or so uncovered, until nicely golden brown.  Stir just a few times during the cooking process to allow each potato to turn and come in contact with the hot oil.

Make up your favorite pancake recipe.  My recipe is posted at the bottom.   I made my batter a little thinner this time, more thinner than usual.   I was hungry for a thinner pancake, and less dough in my mouth.   Lately I haven’t been as pleased with the taste and texture of thick pancakes.   So today I was ready to experiment a little.  I added a little extra milk,  and they turned out perfect!

They spread out a little more in the pan, so I could only cook one at a time in a skillet.  ( I usually cook two or three of the thicker ones at a time in this same pan).   If you have a pancake griddle then you can cook several of these at a time.  To each 1/4 cup of batter I put in the skillet, I added 1 Tbsp of miniature chocolate chips.  When they get little bubbles all over and don’t look so shinny, its time to flip them over and cook the other side.  The first side takes about 2 minutes, and the second side about 45 seconds. 

These turned out just perfect.  All the kids loved them!

The fruit salad was actually leftover from the night before.  We had company, and my ten year old son made this wonderful fruit salad to share with our guests.  It was absolutely delicious!  It contained red grapes, green grapes, strawberries, blueberries, mandarin oranges, bananas, apples, and a mixture of vanilla yogurt and honey.    If you would like to see how we make fruit salads, check out our recipe posted here.

Finally, I fried the eggs in a teaspoon of butter, at the very last, just before serving the table.  That way they were nice and hot!  While they cooked I seasoned them with sea salt and pepper.  I love to cook my eggs with the white all cooked and the yolk thick and slightly runny but not cooked solid.  This is perfect.  The yolk just barely gets onto my pancake and tastes delicious.  This is how I cooked eggs for all my children since they were six months old.   By allowing the yolk to remain slightly runny, it preserves most of the nutrients and enzymes in the egg.  If you would like to know more about why this is such a great way to eat eggs, please read on at the Weston A Price Foundation.   Here is a link to a whole list of articles from their website to learn more about eating wonderful eggs.

I realize that some eggs can contain salmonella, and this can be a dangerous bacteria and cause severe symptoms for some folks, especially those with compromised immune symptoms.  But I am cooking these eggs, just not too long.   Salmonella in eggs is rare.  Most problems with salmonella and eggs come from large chicken factories.  The risk of exposure for my family is extremely small.   I buy most of our eggs fresh from a local chicken farmer.  We used to raise our own eggs and I was a firm believer in using our egg yolks raw in many recipes such as smoothies, egg nog, ice cream, and yummy raw cookie dough.   Since
I no lon
ger raise my own eggs, I seldom use them raw.   I truly miss that!  But I do love these runny yolk fried eggs!

If you would like to know more about raising healthy chickens, including a chicken feed recipe, and eating healthy eggs check out this article:

Nourishing Yummy Pancakes

2 cups natural white flour (organic or certified chemical free)
2 tsp baking soda (aluminum free)
2 Tbs natural sugar  (evaporated cane juice)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 fresh eggs
2 cups raw whole milk  or butter milk, (both yield a delicious pancake)
2 Tbs of safflower oil (expeller pressed)
Optional (add extras such as mini chocolate chips, or fruit of choice before cooking) 

Cook about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake.

This is my favorite pancake recipe.   I usually make it a day ahead and put it in a quart jar in the refrigerator overnight.  Then its ready to go for breakfast or brunch the next day.  Thin with milk or water if needed before cooking on hot griddle.    But it works great even if you don’t have time to let it sit overnight too.  We love to add mini-chocolate chips, or bananas, chopped apples, or blueberries to these yummy treats.  My husband especially likes chopped up bananas in his pancakes, the way his grandma made them, and this was one of the first things I learned to make for him over 20 years ago.

Hope you had a great Saturday!

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Raw Milk Is Real Milk

                         My Favorite Drink:
                        FRESH RAW MILK  


M and M Dairy has wonderful milk from Holstein cows that graze on over 100 acres of beautiful grassland. 

I have personally looked over their farm, interviewed the owners, and wrote a story about them and their animals.  You can read that story here.  

This table is a direct quote from their website:

Comparison of Raw Milk vs. Pasteurized/Homogenized Milk

Raw Milk



All  available to your body

<10% remain.  Necessary to help digest food


100% present (all 22 amino acids)

Severely altered, much less available to your body


All 500 saturated & unsaturated Fats available.  (Fatty acids are the source of all flavor & all fat-soluble vitamins.  Fatty acids are essential for every body cell to function.)

Homogenization breaks up the fat particles and makes them more damaging to the arteries and heart.


100% available:  Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, sulphur.  Also: trace minerals!

Calcium is altered, leaving only 50% or less absorbed by the body.  Other minerals are less available, as well.  Also, enzymes are lost that serve as catalysts for the assimilation of minerals into your body.


All fat and water-soluble vitamins are 100% available to your body.

Up to 66% loss of Vitamins A, D, & E.  Loss of Vitamin C > 50%.  All water-soluble vitamins are lost at 38-80%.  Vitamins B-6 & B-12 are virtually destroyed!


The lactose in raw milk is slowly and safely absorbed.  Many lactose-intolerant people can safely drink raw milk.

The Lactose is more rapidly absorbed, possibly leading to various health problems.  The easy and fast absorption of lactose is also believed by many doctors to cause lactose sensitivity and intolerance in many people.


95% of the bacteria in raw milk is good for you.  This good bacteria also retards the growth of any possible bad bacteria in the milk.  Raw milk will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.  Even sour raw milk us usually safe!

No good bacteria remain to retard the growth of the bad bacteria.  Therefore, the only bacteria that grows back is pathogenic.  Sour pasteurized milk is always dangerous!

This milk is wonderful.   Natural, Raw, Delicious, Very impressive! 

The watered down over cooked stuff you buy in the grocery store, just doesn’t come anywhere close to the quality and nutrition of fresh raw milk. 

You can see pictures of their farm, find directions, and read about their milk
on the M and M Dairy website.

Another star producer in the RAW MILK industry…..

Milky Way Farm has wonderful fresh raw milk from Jersey cows.  Ohhhhhh.  So delicious.

Their website states
“On average, Jersey milk also contains:
20% more protein
20% more calcium
25% more butterfat than most other milks”

Yeah, thats the way I like it, creamy and full flavored. 

Literally 1/4 of the gallon is full of cream compared to about 1/6 on the gallon from the holstein cows.  You can dip it off and make it into butter or whip cream if you want to.  But we just shake and pour. 

My children love it!

Here is a quote from the Milky Way Farm website 

“Raw milk in its natural, unaltered state is taken straight from the cow. That means the milk is not pasteurized or homogenized (to blend the milk and fat), and is minimally processed (usually just filtered and bottled with no additives). Milky Way raw milk is chilled to 40 degrees or below within seconds of leaving the cow, allowing no time for bacteria to multiply. When kept in your refrigerator at 40 degrees or below, this milk will last for three to four weeks – although you’ll probably drink it long before that! “

                        We sure drink it up!!!

Both of these brands of raw milk have stayed fresh at least two weeks in my refrigerator.  We drink it all by then, so I can’t say if it keeps longer or not.   We travel once every two weeks to pick up a new supply.  It takes several gallons a week to support our large family.  We use up our two week supply, and then head on over to the farms for another fresh supply.

           I love both of these brands of raw milk !

What can you do with raw milk?

Drink It

Or, make it into fresh nourishing products such as:

Whip Cream
Butter Milk
    This is a wonderful drink and has many healing properties.
    This promotes a healthy digestive system with good bacteria.
Yogurt Cheese
Cream Cheese
    You know the expensive kind you buy at the store?  Thats right.  Easy peasy right in your own kitchen!
    Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Feta, Mozzarella, and a hundred more.
Cottage Cheese
Sour Cream
Pima Cream
Cream Fresh
Cream Pie
Warm milk at bedtime
    Yeah, you got it.  It makes you sleep like a baby.  
    I barely warm the raw milk and add a little raw honey to taste. 
Hot Chocolate
    My kids can’t get enough of this delicious treat.  See how we make it with kids in the kitchen here.
Mocha Latte
    A daily routine.  I will post my recipe here.
     Ok, I admit this is my favorite food.  EVER!  I will post my favorite nourishing ice cream recipe here.
     It is so simple to make.  Only 3 ingredients unless you want to add more.
     I just love nourishing potato soup made with raw milk.  See my recipe here.
Mashed potatoes
Scalloped potatoes
Bread recipes
    Check out my wonderful Breakfast Rolls with Kefir Frosting.  
    The kids will beg for more!  See my recipehere.

Both of these milks can be purchased affordably at  $4.50 a gallon.  You can buy it straight from the cooler on the farm, or buy them from several markets in South Carolina.

In the scriptures God told the Israelites that he was giving them a land flowing with “milk and honey.”  This is a good and perfect gift created by God and given to man.  

In its natural state, milk is a perfect, healthy, life giving food.  Man has messed it up with small confinement of animals, large herds without enough room, grain feeding, pipelines and processing, bacteria, contamination, heating, destroying, re-adding, re-mixing, homogenizing, warehousing, packaging, storing, shipping…….it was never meant to be this complicated….it was never meant to be this way….milk was a good and perfect gift to man.

Want to find a good source of fresh raw milk near where you live?

Try these sources:

Local Harvest    
Click on the link and enter the local area you are searching for raw milk.

Real Milk       
Click on your state or a state nearby to find raw milk products.

Answers to questions:  What Is Real Milk?

Further Reading

The Benefits Of Drinking Raw Milk

Another great resource of information is the Weston A Price Foundation and their wonderful cookbook Nourishing Traditions.

Disclaimer:  Consult your physician before making any changes in your diet and life style. If you have a health condition that suppresses your immune system, talk with your doctor before using any raw food. 

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Field Trip To Cochran Dairy

A visit to a family farm.

We went with the Henderson County, NC Barnyard Bandits 4 H Club on a field trip to Cochran Dairy today.

We met up with the club at 7:00 am.  The kids boarded a bus, and we followed in our van with our two youngest kids in tow.  The three older boys were so excited to be on the bus with the club, and headed to a working farm.  It has been three years since we left our farming lifestyle in Indiana, and we have missed it so much.

It was about an hours drive.  Thankfully, my husband enjoys driving in various situations.  I am the opposite.  I do not like driving through the mountains.  I am much better suited to either drive on flat straight roads (was raised in Kansas where every road was on a flat and straight square mile), or be the passenger, and assist the children with their needs, rather than be behind the wheel on the curvy and steep mountain roads.  Some of these roads are fine, but quickly some change hundreds to thousands of feet in elevation too quickly.  I get sick on a roller coaster, and some of these twists and turns and ups and downs in a vehicle feel a lot like it.

The farm we are visiting is situated in a narrow cove in the mountains.

When we arrived, all the children were excited as they unloaded from the bus.  The Cochran family was waiting there in front of the milk barn to greet us. 

This is a three generation family farm. Bill and Pat Cochran own the farm.  Their son, Sam and his wife Brenda and their two sons, Samuel and Riley, help run the farm. 

This is one terrific farming family!

The first room you enter is the milk room where the raw milk is stored after it comes from the cows.   This is grandson, Riley, standing at the cleaning sink.

Here, Sam explains the cleaning solution he mixes up to clean the milking pipelines. 
See the pipes above his head in the picture?  These suck up the cleaning solution and carry it into a maze of pipes into another room where the milking takes place.

Here is Bill, talking about his bulk tank.  This is what holds the raw milk after it comes through the pipelines.  Bill milks 50 cows, Holsteins and Holstein Guernsey crosses, two times a day.  The cows are milked every twelve hours. 

The 50 cows he milks, produce 2,400 lbs of milk a day and it is stored in this big stainless steal bulk tank.  This tank is like a large refrigerator.  It is cold inside.  There is a motor on top of the tank that spins a paddle inside the tank to stir the milk .  This helps the warm milk to chill faster as it comes into the tank.  To be Grade A milk, it must chill to 36 degrees within a half hour of leaving the cow.  Later, the milk is piped from the bulk tank to a big truck from MilkCo. one time a day, and is transported to a factory that homogenizes, pasteurizes, and bottles it.  Bill belongs to a milk coop called the Virginia Maryland Coop.

Next, Bill took us into the milking room.  Here he milks 8 cows at a time.  Each cow goes into their own stall that holds a feed pan which is near the wall.  Their tail end is flush with a corner of the orange railing and another railing panel, so their rear end is facing the farmer at an angle.  

Bill stands down in this walkway and cleans the cows udder and hooks the milking claws up to each teat.  You can see one of the milking claws and the attached tubing and pipelines behind the farmer’s head in this picture.  

After each milking, morning and night, the entire room and the claws and pipelines are completely cleaned and prepared for the next time.   This would be a tough job for Bill to do alone.  Thankfully, his family all works together to make this process run smoothly.

Bill is explaining how it works to our 4 H leader, Dr. Beverly.  Dr. Beverly is also a veterinarian and loves farms!  Family farms are disappearing at an alarming rate.  That is why she is heading up this Henderson County NC 4 H club, to teach the younger generation how wonderful farming can be.  I just want to say, thank you Dr. Beverly and the Cochran Family!  I wish there were more people like you!  Our family truly benefitted from all you did to bring us to visit this family farm.

Pat, Bill’s wife, took time to teach each child about how the machines milk the cow.  Here she is having each child put their fingers into the inflation cups of the milking claw so the kids can feel the pulsations and suction and understand how this helps extract the milk from the cows udder. 

A cow has one udder with four teats, and each claw has four inflation cups.  Each inflation on the claw attaches to each teat on the udder.  The claw helps to hold all four of the inflation cups together, and coordinates the piping for air and milk together in one bundle.

Pat is absolutely the sweetest lady I have met in a long, long time.  She is gentle with the kids and listens to each person old or young.  Each person is unique to her and they all have value.  She was great to talk to.  She is passionate about teaching the next generation in a very hands on way.

At the Cochran Dairy, the whole process is automated.  The milking pressure of the claw is regulated by the amount of air pressure and speed of pulsing sent through the line. Th
e farmer controls this process from a computerized control panel.  But the whole process still requires human monitoring and making adjustments if needed.

The Holstein is the largest dairy cow and produces the most quantity of milk of the dairy breeds.  Holstein milk is largely used in bottled milk as it has a lower cream content compared to other dairy breeds.  For example, Jersey cows have a large amount of cream in their milk.  Jersey milk is more “old fashioned” in our modern society, and it is often used for making butter and cheese or blended with Holstein milk for bottling.   Our country has basically done away with drinking whole fresh milk in its natural form.  Machinery alters it now to pasteurize it and homogenize it.  So the Holstein cow is more ideal for use in making bottled pasteurized and homogenized milk. 

There are many large factory farms that milk 500 to 1000 Holsteins a day.  I now of several that are totally automated and they basically have a factory of cows being moved around a great big building and milked three times a day by an automated robot.  NO KIDDING!   The whole process is totally scientific and totally in humane!   But Holstein cows are a little more of a challenge for family farms to raise.  They eat a whole lot more than the smaller breeds.  They are more reared for grain feed and less hay as they convert their diet into milk, where the more “old fashioned” breeds do a much better job of eating grass and hay and converting that diet into a higher quality, but lower in quantity, milk. 

For several reasons, Holsteins are more expensive to raise than other dairy breeds.  First is because of this larger feed need.  Also, because they are on a higher grain diet to produce more milk, they have to be culled sooner. So you have to buy or raise a new generation of milkers sooner. Grain burns up a cows stomach ( actually a system of 4 fermenting chambers or 4 stomachs).   If you ferment grass you get a special mix.  But if you ferment grain, you get a whole different mix and a lot more gas.  Cows are herbivores.  They are meant to eat grass, not a diet of grain.   So grains cause lots of digestive problems for cows.  Most farms get about 4 to 6 milking years from a Holstein and 12 to 14 milking years from an old fashioned cow such as a Jersey.   Holsteins also have more problems with giving birth, besides twisted and bloated stomaches, and require a lot more veterinarian intervention.  In my experience, Holsteins have a lot more vaginal issues, cesarean, etc (yeah that is right, a cow getting cesarian is common on a Holstein Dairy farm, because they birth larger calves.  They don’t have the physical stamina partly due to typically having less time spent in the pasture getting exercise and eating fresh grass.  So that definitely raises the bills to care for them.  But Holsteins are more desired for making bottled milk, so dairy’s are encouraged (financially) to raise them.  A farmer raising milk for bottling is paid on the 100 wt. of the milk.  So more volume equals more pay.  And the government offers special bonuses for the dairies.  A farmer raising milk for cheese or butter is also paid for the level of the cream they achieve such as 3% or 4%  in the volume of milk.  So with Jerseys, the farmer has less to sell per cow, but has higher cream and is paid for those features.  

Our modern society has made milk is so complicated !!!!

If you would like to learn more about raising cows for milk production, and the risks and benefits to the animals as well as to the farmers, I suggest reading articles from the Weston A Price Foundation and the Real Milk CampaignBoth of these groups are doing an amazing job to encourage the consumption of healthy milk, healthy meats, and promote the lifestyle of the family farm, and the freedom and benefits of raising local food.

Here is where the cows come in from the pasture and wait to be milked. 

The cows enter the milking parlor single file.  They walk to a feed pan, and are ready to get milking.

The next step is to dip the teats of the cow’s udder with a teat dip.  This dip was blue, and Sam said it feels like vaseline.  It has antibacterial properties to kill germs that could be on the teats if the cow happened to sit down in manure or a dirty place or was pooped on by another cow.  This dip helps kill microorganisms that could contaminate the milk.  After dipping the teat, it then gets wiped off with a paper towel.

Next, Sam let each of the children and adults milk a cow by hand.  He showed the children the proper way to place their hand and how to move their fingers to extract the milk.  Milking by hand is not done anymore.  But this is how the cows were milked many years ago, before the dairy had automated milking machines.

My son, age six, getting a lesson from Sam on how to hold the teats.

The four teats, or nipples, on a cows udder.

Here Sam is showing the children how to move their grip down the teat to extract the milk.

There were more lessons and opportunities for each person to practice. 

Bill explained that a cow who has just freshened (had a calf) gives a lot more milk than a cow who freshened several month ago.  These cows have a calf once a year.  The calves are removed as soon as they are born, and raised by hand, so the dairy can keep the milk and sell it for human consumption.

Bill raises his own hay for the cows on a 200 acre farm he owns in Tennessee, about 1 hour away.  Bill explained that because of the mountain terrain, and lots of housing that has reduced available farm ground, North Carolina farms in the mountains have a difficult time raising hay for their animals. 

The ground in this region doesn’t have a lot of topsoil and most of what isn’t covered in housing is rolling, forested, or in a flood plain.  Many in the farmers in the mountains raise tree crops, berries, grapes, or sesonal produce such as tomatoes and peppers in the lower flood plain areas.  Rasing livestock and grains to feed them, presents a much different challenge here, and so hay and grain are not raised as much.  Though animals such as cows, horses, and goats climb the hills just fine, it is life threatening to try and do it with a tractor or large farm equipment.  Erosion is another big factor.  Serious terracing would have to be done to use some of the rolling ground, and it is very cost prohibitive.

It costs a lot to buy hay at retail.  Talk to any horse farmer here and they’ll tell you the costs of feed that you wouldn’t believe.  As a matter of fact.  When we lived in Indiana, many of our farming friends would raise hay just to sell to the farmers, especially horse farmers, down here.  So many of the livestock farmers who make a full time living farming here, own or rent farm ground in other states to raise hay, grass, or additional animals, and help with the costs of being a farmer. 

Though this farm family loves the mountains, and they can’t imagine any other life, it is a difficult place to try and farm here.  Most people give up, as it is too costly to do and make a living at it.  For some farmers who want to keep the lifestyle, it becomes an expensive hobby rather than a way to make a living, as you end up spending more than you make at it.  Our bus driver shared a lot of personal stories in regards to the current state of family farms here.

Farmers are paid very little for what they do.  And the expenses that go into producing food at a commercial level are huge.  Not considering the costs of equipment to run a farm, barns, and all that goes into them, livestock, feed and the up keep, the ground itself is cost prohibitive. 

Good fertile ground in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky can be bought for 2,500 to 3,500 and acre. Many times you can get a house, fenced pasture, and barns at no additional cost with the purchase of at least 100 acres to 200 acres.   Currently, ground that would be good farm ground in the Henderson County, NC and surrounding areas, goes for 22,000 to 100,000 per acre, and no working farm house or barns. This is due to a huge demand for housing and development.  Just an hour or so south down the mountain, you can get farm ground for 10,000 to 15,000 an acre, still expensive from a farming standpoint, and in many ways it is still far less productive for making alfalfa hay and growing grains.  There farm ground in SC that produces grass hay, but it is minimal in comparison, due to lower rain fall levels.  It is good for pasture, and some produce, cotton, and rice the further the south you go.  

Most of the farmers in this area received their ground from family, the previous generation, either parents or grandparents, as the younger generation can not afford to buy it and make a living on it. 

A farmer can make a lot more by selling off his ground for housing and development than he can by farming it.  With these issues and all the considerations mentioned, it is no wonder the family farms here and through out much of the country have nearly disappeared!  With these presures, this is a much more difficult lifestyle to keep any way you look at it.

Well,  we are off to the next family farm to see sheep, goats, and a livestock sale.  Then we will head back to the Cochran Family Farm to for a wonderful lunch and to see their pig operation.  They typically raise 200 pigs at a time. 

We left our vehicle and loaded the bus with all the kids and headed back down the cove.  So glad we had a good bus driver who is a great mountain driver.  I wasn’t nervous one bit.  Ok, maybe a little bit.   But seriously he was a great driver and volunteered his time to drive around this 4 H club of kids.  He drives a dump truck and has also been a farmer for his whole life in Ettowah, NC.   A great fella, and I sincerely want to thank him for his time driving around the mountains with this group of kids, and sharing his farm stories with me. 

Well if you want to see the next part of our field trip adventure, you will have to read about it here(I’ll post the link as soon as I get it published)

And if you don’t, well then just stop and take a minute to think about a few things…

Farming is physically demanding.  It requires physical stamina.    Grain and produce farming is more seasonal.  Livestock farming is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week responsibility.  Bill and Pat Cochran never get a break.   Farming is high pressure responsibilities, for little pay.  

Yet, despite the difficulties farmers face, farming is highly rewarding in many other ways.  For example, you live where you work, so you don’t waist a lot of time commuting to a job.  You don’t have to work in nice clothes, so it saves on the clothing budget.  You get to raise your own food and food for others.  It is also great to be together as a family, and dad and mom don’t have to leave to go to a different job. (Though many farmers do get part time work off the farm to bring in extra income above what the farm produces.  Also many do this to get health insurance benefits as it is too costly to buy health insurance as an individual.)  But being close to home is one of the best benefits, and it has helped farmers raise strong family units.  You get to be your own boss and there is a lot of freedom in that.  You get to be outside a lot, you become very connected to the earth, animals, crops, and the weather patterns because your work depends on it.  You learn about insects, and soils, and nutrients.  You may learn about natural remedies, or you may take the mainstream approach and learn about commercial herbicides and pesticides.   There is a variety of things to do so you never get bored ( though a job like milking that requires the same routine and milking every 12 hours can get tedious or the feeling of never getting a break (vacation), as I know from experience, but the rest of it has great variety each day).  There are many more benefits, but that is enough to mention for now.

Farming is a lifestyle.  It is not a job sperate from your lifestyle.   

I know 4H make a difference in the future, as it exposes kids to so many hands on opportunities.  I believe we need these hands
on experiences to raise resourceful, strong people, and leaders for the future of our country.  Real life is not a virtual life, spent in front of a computer, a video game, or TV.  Those skills are important as we live in a modernized world and nearly every job or aspect of society utilizes technology in some way.  But it doesn’t produce people who are well grounded, and dedicated, and able to handle personal conflicts, or life challenges that arise.  Without hands on experience, there is a piece of a healthy life and balance left out.

I definitely believe that every kid should have the opportunity to help raise a garden.  Learning how to produce food is a valuable skill everyone needs.  In many foreign countries, if you don’t produce food, you would starve.  Up until the 1950’s everyone in our own country could raise a garden, except for some of the poorest people in the slums.  Why have we forgotten what an important skill this is?  Why do we only rely on a grocery store or a restaurant to acquire our foods.  A combination of laws and technology have basically forced the local food grower to almost disappear.  Yet if you look close enough, you can still find them.  Local Harvest and your town’s local farmer’s market is a good place to start your search.

I also wish that every kid, say anytime around age 10-12 upto 18 could unplug from computers, TV, and cell phones and could go with their family, and spend a year or even just a summer on the farm.  I really believe it would affect society in a positive way.  It would impact how we as a society value life, resources, and our priorities, if all young people had the chance to live the hands on lifestyle for a time.  Yes I have seen both sides.  I have seen the difference.  What an awesome summer camp, or year, of real hands on schooling this could be!!!  

So Mr. President, and any other organizations who might want to help, if you are listening and truly want to impact the future, please consider such a suggestion.  Give families with youth an income for a summer, or for one year to support their labor on a family farm educating the future generation in responsibility, being resourceful, strengthening the family unit, caring for the land, and growing local food for the food consumption needs of more than just their own family, but larger society. 

A one year full scholarship to the school of “HANDS ON FAMILY FARM” to build better families and better citizens.  What a dream!

We would likely see a revival of family farming as a way of life.

(Don’t forget to read the next article about this amazing field trip, we are only half way through. There are lots of adorable pictures with kids and baby animals…stay tuned….)

What do you do to expose your kids to the issues surrounding farming and food production?  Leave us a comment and let us know.  Thank you.

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Hot Chocolate With Kids In The Kitchen

With all the snow at our house, and soooo many outdoor adventures in the snow, we need warm mugs of chocolaty goodness to keep us energized, and re-warm our cold bodies. 

My kindergartner and second grader are becoming expert

They know each step by heart.

This is a fun, and frugal, yummy treat! 

It is a simple recipe to do with kids in the kitchen.  Kids can plan, prep, sort, measure, clean-up, and double or divide the recipe in half.  Depending on their readiness they can help at the stove too.  Please remember to always provide supervision when working with children near a stove.  This is a good exercise for teaching about safety and equipping your kids with life skills too. 

The kids love to eat what they helped make in the kitchen.

Here is our recipe.  We serve it in coffee mugs.  This recipe makes 8 servings. 

2 quarts milk=$2    Raw milk preferably.  We get ours from a dairy in South Carolina for $4 a gallon.  You can read about it here .

1/2 cup cocoa powder = $ .40

1 cup sucanat sugar $ .70 

We buy our sucanat (sugar cane natural) in bulk through Weiser Natural Foods.  You can read how we buy and store bulk sucanat here .

Sucanat is natural sugar with all the nutrients (vitamins and minerals) still intact.   It is a whole food with a wide spectrum of nutrients.  It has a cocoa brown color and really enhances the flavor, nutrition, and color of hot chocolate.  It is actually sweeter in taste than refined sugar and you don’t have to use as much.  It is available at local health food stores, though you save a huge amount when you buy it in bulk.

Whisk all of the ingredients in a pan over medium heat till warm.  Remove pan from the heat and don’t overheat.  The benefits of live enzymes and probiotics when using raw milk will be lost if you overheat it.  Plus no one, especially kids, can not drink it if it is too hot.  So don’t overheat it.

Total cost per serving = $3.10 divided by 8 = $.39 each


p.s.  Marshmallows or whip cream are optional !!!

p.s.s.  I usually take any leftovers and add dad’s leftover coffee for a delicious chocolate coffee for mom.  A Mocha Latte for $.39 made with coffee that was leftover and doomed to be thrown out, priceless joy for mom! Starbucks can’t beat that.


Warning though, usually there are no leftovers, and I have to make a second batch, so mom can get her chocolate fix too.

What’s your favorite hot chocolate recipe?

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No Time For Flash Cards

Raising Homemakers

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