Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Raw Milk Update




Been awhile hasn't it? And you've been worried haven't you? Maybe even having trouble concentrating at work, difficulty with sleep, not interested in...you know...and it's all my fault I'll admit.

To go so long without a raw milk update is very thoughtless of me. Frankly don't know what you see in me, you should've left years ago. It's true. I never deserved you. But maybe I can win your trust again with some fresh out of the udder milk news.

Everything is fine.

Well, The drought was tough on the cows and hay had to fed in July to supplement the pastures. This meant increased costs to us of course. We held off with increasing our per gallon charge as long as we could but tomorrow our price will go from $5 a gallon to $6. It's not something we're happy about but with other small farmers around us cutting way back on their products and some dairies closing their barn doors permanently, we feel this alternative is better.

In general, our raw milk continues to sell very well. People continue to drive up our lane with empty containers and then back down the lane with full ones. I continue to advertise but we're not wasting our $ on print ads. We ran a few for several weeks last spring but only got a couple new customers. So it's the Book of Face, this blog and word of mouth.

Specifically, Raw milk sales  are up by over 30% from last year at this time. The increase is both in the NUMBERS of folks who come and the AMOUNT they are buying. We still have the rare customer who comes once and then we don't  see again, same way for our farm store where the meat is sold, but most of our new customers do return, over and over. Several of them have expanded their raw milk talents moving into cheese and yogurt making.

They make us proud.

We did have a couple complaints related to our milk this past month. And as required by NOP (National Organic Program) we logged the complaints (about taste) and then took action. We reminded folks that when feed is changed, the taste of the milk is often altered. And that's what happened. An early frost hit one of our primarily alfalfa filled pasture which really did make the milk smell bad.  So we provided some education about this phenomenon and went on.

Then a second customer complained so I took a milk sample over to Peoria, a 140 mil round trip to the lab that tests our milk for us. The next morning we were relived but not surprised to find our lab counts were good. Somatic cell count 180,000. Federal requirements are that the SCC must be less than 750,000. A couple emails to those customers and new pasture to the girls and all was back on track again.

Other news...The  customer demographic has changed slightly.  I don't track it scientifically but last year our top raw milk customer was the young 30 something mom with small children. This year, that group continues to visit us but we are seeing an increase in retired folks, those who want to improve or maintain their health and remember drinking raw milk as children.

Not sure I'll ever quote that group in any of my advertising though, since they have a tendency to walk around spewing wisdom like "I drank it when I was a squirt and I ain't dead yet am I?" Yeah, when we think the time is right to run some TV ads  (never) I believe we'll approach our young mom group for their opinion. Yes we will.

7 comments:

  1. I was a bit frightened from your vague blog title, but glad to hear that your raw milk sales are doing fine!

    And, in my opinion, $6 is a STEAL for raw, from-the-farm ORGANIC milk!! I sell my milk to the few & far between customer (have to know me or I won't sell it to them) for $6 and mine isn't organic and you are in a much larger area so you should be getting more. DON'T FEEL GUILTY for making money on a product like yours (albeit a tiny one)!!!

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  2. When I first moved to France (41 years ago), and we had two small children, I used to go next door with my little one litre churn, and fill up every other day.

    Nowadays I'm obliged to buy a 6 pack of UHT, long-life, plastic bottled, white stuff. Ah, Europe!

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  3. As a dairy farm wife; I can tell you that nothing tastes better than ice cold fresh, raw milk. If I didn't have it right outside my front door; I would gladly pay $6/gallon. Don't fret about the price; customers will pay for the good quality product you are putting out.

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  4. This is udderly fascinating! (Sorry, couldn't resist!) I can't wait till our heifer calves and we can (try) milking her. I hope to be able to share it with our kids because our granddaughter seems to be lactose intolerant, and I think she might do okay with raw milk. Although you better believe I will keep my milk safe with my precious grandkids drinking it, I would never have the courage to sell it to anyone. I've heard too many horror stories. I admire you, though, for sticking your neck out to get good milk to the public--and for letting them know you're on top of any potential problems.

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  5. Very interesting post. If I was near you I would buy your milk, and I would have a go at making cheese, etc. But we shall have to wait for a couple of years or so until our young Jersey cow is old enough to start giving us milk. Meanwhile, I remain encouraged by your words, and in awe of what you are doing.

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