Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Our Monthly Raw Milk Trip

We picked up 15 gallons of delicious, creamy raw milk this afternoon, and 16 dozen farm fresh eggs. I love actually seeing and touching (or chasing in the case of the chickens) the animals that produce the food we eat. It's an all around great experience!

I finally remembered to check the odometer today and it's 120 miles round trip, and takes just over an hour each way. It's really not bad for such great quality food, esp considering the price! $4 for a gallon (and she fills it to the top) of milk and $3.50 for a dozen incredibly rich eggs. And it feels really good to have a month's worth of nourishing food stored neatly away.

We got home and the kids ate bread and butter (I know, I know) and 3 glasses of milk. I was surprised at how much they drank. But when I went to finish the last of Samuel's, I remembered why. The stuff that we take out of the freezer, while still very nourishing, just does not taste like fresh milk. But fresh milk, literally less then 4 hours old, is incredible! And they are jersey cows and the milk is so creamy! It's about 3 cups of cream in a gallon.

I thought I'd share how I 'process' it all. Hopefully I'll look back in a year from now and mock myself for being so laborious about it. But for now, it works and I'm just happy for the end result.

I bring 8 gallon glass jars and 14 (yes, 14) half gallon ball glass jars. They fit in 3 larger plastic milk crates quite nicely. I use the plastic lids, so that part isn't such a nuisance. Farmer Julie is so sweet and never complains about filling up so many jars. And she insists that I wait until the foam is down so she can fill it to the very top. Which really means I end up with an extra gallon or so of milk then I paid for. She's really great like that! It's $60 for 15 gallons of milk, which I hand to Julie in cash.

Some day I'll get pictures. Posterity sake and all. :)

At the chicken farm, they keep the eggs in an old freezer on their front porch. So I put 16 of them in the reusable grocery store bags that I take along. And I put the money in a little tin. I always worry someone might take it. But hopefully they see me and take it out after we leave. I've never actually spoken with or seen them. It's $56 for the eggs.

It all fits snugly in the trunk, which is nice.

Oh, and the kids love the trip and generally are great. Samuel usually falls asleep on the way if he did not nap earlier. They run around at both places and are generally ok with getting back in the car for the trip home.

Getting the milk upstairs is annoying. But it tests my muscles, which can't be bad. I take the milk and eggs up in 4 or 5 trips usually.

When I get it upstairs, I put the eggs away first (I try to clean out my fridge before we leave as it takes up the entire top 2 shelves and we have a smallish fridge). Then I tackle the milk, which takes an hour or 2. I take the tops off and skim the cream. I put some of the cream in ice cube trays and freeze them. Once frozen, I put them in a plastic freezer bag for soups, smoothies, ice cream and hot chocolate. And usually if I ask the kids to get out the bag, they eat an ice cube or two. :) Mary Poppins would be proud.

The rest of the cream I put into quart glass Ball jars-usually it's 4 or 5. I used to make butter, but we love the cream so much and it makes so little butter, I've stopped doing that. I just buy the butter (not as good as raw, but I can't have my cream and eat it to).

I take a gallon of the milk and make yogurt right away. That way it sits in the oven all night and I have a little bit more space for all the milk and eggs! :) We eat a gallon in less then a week generally.

I have 2 glass containers with pour spouts that I fill up and put in the fridge. I take 5 gallons or so, and fill up the glass jars 3/4 full, put the cap on lightly, and put in the extra freezer we have. The rest I put in the fridge and we drink over the next 2 weeks. The stuff does not start to sour for 2 weeks, so it's perfect. We go through the fresh stuff a lot faster then the frozen. But, going to the farm every 2 weeks is just not going to happen. Esp when I know the nourishing value is still high. The kids do enjoy eating it, as it never fully thaws. So they get chunks of ice in the milk. It's a trade off. :) But when we get the fresh milk, we drink a ton and are really grateful for it.

From the time we get into the car, until I go to bed, it's about 6 hours. Really, not bad for having such nourishing food. And the kids have a great time to boot! School trip!

Well, not real exciting, but I thought I'd post it anyway. Again, posterity and all.

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