Thursday, May 5, 2011

Something is a little "off"

Every year it happens. The earth revolves around the sun. I know because Sister Viola taught me this in second grade. As the earth does this, Spring becomes a reality. With spring comes warmer weather, at least that's what happens here in the Midwest. You goofballs living near a place called Iron Creek Lake in South Dakota are still dealing with snow and therefore cannot relate. You will probably feel better if you just stop reading now, grab another blanket and put another piece of furniture on the fire. You must be out of wood logs by now.

With this warmer weather (and rain if you are blessed) comes the wild phenomenon known as pasture growth. Yeah man, I'm talking about grass. Green green grass.

Cows eat grass, at least those lucky enough not to be living their whole life on a concrete feed lot. That green green grass is converted to milk, and spring milk tastes different than winter milk. Every year, one or two of our new milk customers, the ones who have only been drinking winter milk, that which comes after the cow eats dry hay all winter, will react with a little shock and awe.

Some will say "Uh, I hate to say anything but your milk tastes a little funny."
And we will say, "Does it taste bad?'
They will say "No, just funny, sort of  "off"  I guess"
And we will say, "Is it fresh ?"
They will say, "Yes, I just bought it this morning."
And we will then tell them all about grassy milk vs hay-ey milk. (Put down your keyboards spelling Nazi's I know what I am doing.)

We tell them to look at this way. When a mother nurses her baby, her milk will often reflect or taste like, what she has recently eaten. A meal heavy in onions and baby might turn away and dial Rent-a-Breast  for their next meal. This is the reason why Docs advise nursing moms against consuming strong drugs, alcohol and even caffeine.

It is the same way with cows, which is why their milk tastes different in the spring when suddenly they are consuming a very different diet than they were a few weeks ago. Soon that new taste will be just as familiar as the winter tasting milk. To ensure your milk is safe to drink though, you should follow some basic rules, winter and summer.

1. Be sure you obtain your milk from a reputable dairy. The tank room should look and smell clean
2. ASK your farmer how he milks his cows, how he cleans their udders, how he cleans the pipe system and the bulk tank.
3. Ask him about any milk testing he does, ask to SEE his milk test results.
4. Check the temperature gauge on his bulk tank. It should be 42 degrees or lower.

Now be sure to do YOUR part to keep your milk healthy and nutritional

1. Always wash your hands before collecting milk in your container.
2. Make sure your milk bottles and lids/caps are VERY clean. Wash them with hot soapy water and then a 1:10 bleach water solution. The hotter the bleach water the better. Rinse and dry well.
3. Transport your milk in an ice chest with ice packs. Keep your milk COLD.
4. Educate yourself about raw milk . One excellent resource is Raw Milk Production Handbook by Tim Wightman. Available through

Now go pour yourself a tall cold one.

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