It takes a bit more time to feed and milk your own goat than to drive to the store and purchase a carton of milk. Why go to the effort?
In recent years, most dairies have been using pasteurization temperatures above 172F, which
destabilizes the whey proteins therefore preventing the calcium from bonding properly to form structured curd; this makes it more difficult, if not impossible, to make most cheeses with ultrapasteurized milks.
Ultra High-Temperature Sterilization: milk that has been heated to at least 280 degrees Farenheit, and although the process may take only a few seconds, it destroys the good as well as the bad bacteria. The reason it is done, of course, is that the shelf life of milk after UHT sterilization is sixty days instead of the 18-day shelf life of lower pasteurization. Since the many diversified dairies continue to dwindle to a few mega-producers, milk must be shipped much longer distances to reach the consumer, so a longer shelf life created by ultra-pasteurization is necessary without the consumer choosing a local source.
In addition, the prevalence of certain diseases in herds of thousands of animals makes it a necessity; large dairies keep increasing pasteurization temperatures and times in hopes of resolving the problem, but in fact the end product is actually more susceptible to dangerous bad bacteria than milk of past years, retaining some of its live antibacterial cultures and healthy enzymes; the method of treating with higher and higher temperatures has only created more opportunity for bad bacteria (some of which grow at cold temperatures), and has also created a 'dead' food that no longer contains enzymes for its proper digestion.
The real solution? Proper herd management, producing healthier animals and better milk...a step that large dairies, so far, have not been willing to take, because it diminishes some of their profits.
Is milk from my own goat really better than organic milk from the grocery store?
The answer is a resounding yes, for several reasons.
Organic milk is now the fastest growth sales of any dairy product...it seems everyone is getting on the bandwagon, and consumers are willing to pay more for it because they have been told that it is far superior...but is it? The following link is helpful in understanding where the organic milk in your grocery store is coming from, and exactly what it is:http://cheesemakinghelp.blogspot.com/2010/04/organic-milk-from-big-dairy.html
When you are producing your own milk, you know what is in the milk--how it was handled after milking, whether the animal is healthy, what she was eating, etc. Unfortunately, even milk labeled as "organic" can come from animals eating GMO (genetically-modified foods), and unhealthy animals. I recommend researching why GMO is a bigger issue than whether your milk is organic or not--Jeffrey Smith, the author of Seeds of Deception, is a good place to start, and is well worth your time; GMO foods are more dangerous than hormones or even chemicals in your milk. In this day and age it is imperative to educate yourself in order to avo
My husband is a swimmer. I don't mean he is a casual, occasional swimmer. He has been a water rat for his entire life, more often wet than dry, since age nine. That's when someone observed he and his brother swimming in a community pool in Ohio and said to his mother, "You REALLY need to get those boys into some serious swimming lessons...they have a natural aptitude for it". Apparently the guy was right. By the time he was eleven Joe had won a national title for his age group.
Joe holds a silver medal from the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, and in fact was the fastest swimmer in the world shortly after that (see Swimmers World Magazine for the details, including the photo in a Speedo that he won't let me frame for my office wall). He broke Mark Spitz' last record, and Mark graciously said "It couldn't happen to a nicer guy".
Therefore, swimming is a big pastime around here. We live on a river and often spend hours hanging out there in the summer with friends, especially since our summers are ridiculously hot, with temperatures in the nineties, and even over 110 at times; this makes swimming almost a survival technique here.
Tomorrow our 6-year-old starts swimming lessons, so today we went to the local pool, which we often do in the afternoons, until all of us were hungry and waterlogged.
This diversity of interests--swimming and farming, I mean--makes for an interesting life. If someone had told me eight years ago that I would be living this life I would not have believed it. Tonight after swimming and a quick dinner on the way home (a healthy local fresh-mex place), I sat in the barn and braided my six-year-old's wet hair while she milked one of the goats, which she is becoming very adept at. She does it daily, start to finish, without being asked (she adores this particular goat and that helps, of course). As I braided, coaching her on milking and talking about our day, I had one of those snapshot moments in which you suddenly are amazed that this is your life.
I have vowed to try to have them more often.
Goats have always conjured up some interesting pictures in the human imagination. My sole childhood experience with goats was visiting my aunt’s farm once. She mentioned that her doe had kidded with twins…so I trotted out to the barn, my interest piqued. There she was, knee-deep in fresh straw, with a lovely velvet matched set of leggy, curious kids. I was hooked.
Yet it was another thirty years before I got around to actually procuring a goat…college, working in the high-tech industry, and then a graduate program didn’t leave much room for animal husbandry. Finally, with six kids, a husband and 6 wild acres to tame, I decided it was time to take that inspirational quote on my bathroom mirror to heart: “Whatever you have always wanted to do—start today!” So I made a list. Returning to my farmgirl roots was at the top. With a 100-foot high cliff claiming part of our 6 acres, there was simply no other way to wrestle the poison oak and wild blackberries into submission—we simply needed goats. (Plus I had heard from two different mothers that their children had overcome chronic severe poison oak reactions from drinking the milk of poison-oak-nibbling goats.)
Our first milk doe was, as I look back now, a divine test of my perseverance. Lovely as she was, with those beguiling velvet ears, she was young and inexperienced. It didn’t help that I also had very little in the experience department. We bought her as a pregnant doe, with no exact due date…and a friend graciously loaned us another doe to keep her company until her kid was born. (I now know what a true friendship it is…I would NEVER loan a goat to someone, knowing what I know now, but that is a different story.)
She had been with us less than a week, when thinking she would enjoy some fresh grass for an hour or so, I led (maybe that’s not quite how I would describe it) her out of her pen with a stall into a little pasture adjacent to it. She was not exactly wild about leaving her pen—in fact, she objected vehemently—but once she was surrounded by fresh greens she nibbled contentedly, so I put out a bucket of water and left her there in the late afternoon sun.
I returned about an hour later to discover a wobbly, wet black kid at her side, to my amazement (this was, of course, pure inexperience…now nothing shocks me with goats—I have discovered that virtually ANYTHING can happen). Nearby I was even more shocked to find another shiny, wide-eyed kid. Scooping up both gently, I led the doe back to the barn and settled them into their quiet stall with soft shavings.
Lest you think this was an idyllic farmgirl experience, let me assure you that milking the doe was another matter entirely. I waited several days to begin, so that the doe and buckling would have plenty of colostrum and early milk, and then the fun began. It could only be described as milking a BUCKING goat…or maybe a RUNNING goat. At any rate, in spite of my persistence and attempts to try various approaches, she was having none of it. It took two of us to hold her still, and even then, no one had their hands free to milk her! Crosstying was to no avail…a tasty bucket of grain was not enough to bribe her…she managed to kick the bucket over even if I managed to get ¼ cup of milk into it. Failing that, she plopped a muddy foot in. The dog was enjoying the whole routine since he received the wasted milk each time. I called in an experienced goat milking friend to determine what I was doing wrong, but she was equally unable to produce results. We finally sold the doe, apologizing to the buyer, with a warning that she was not a ‘beginner’s’ milker. Ironically, I received a glowing report about a month later in an email from the buyer’s husband, a man I had never met, thanking me for the gift of what he called their “new family member”. He raved about the milk, saying they had a bit of a learning curve, but that she now milked like clockwork. I was too delighted to be annoyed.