Yesterday we visited Wholesome Family Farm. This is a photo-essay dedicated to what we saw at a small dairy farm here in Oregon. I am not recommending this one, above others. I believe that everyone should visit the farms they choose to purchase the milk themselves and decide if it is up to their standard of cleanliness and quality. For more information on other dairy farms in Oregon and the rest of US visit realmilk. We were thrilled to hear that they sell not only raw milk but butter and cream also! The dairy is only a year old and it has nine cows. Joe and his wife Cammie gave us a tour.
Note: See my posts, the Problem With Milk Part I and Part II – Problem Solved, to read more about the benefits and risks of drinking raw milk.
When we stepped onto their farm this delightful lady met us with inquisitive eyes and a bright pink tongue that seemed to have a life of its own! The cows are milked outside on a concrete pad that is washed after every session.
Next, we stepped into the processing room, where the milk is strained, chilled, and packed after milking. Most of the surfaces are stainless steel. There are a couple refrigerators and a big drying rack.
The cows are milked with a gentle electric milking machine, that simulates the feeling of suckling calves. It is sucked directly into stainless steel air-tight containers with no air exposure. The cows’ udders are sprayed with an iodine solution and dried with a towel immediately before and and after milking.
Next, the milk is strained, then poured into jars.
The jars are washed in a dish washer and then rinsed with vinegar. They are then allowed to air dry for 8 hours before being filled with milk again.
This is the ice machine that supplies ice for the chilling process that takes place next.
Immediately after being poured into jars, the milk is submerged in an ice bath in order to bring it to below 40* as soon as possible. After it is completely chilled, it is transferred into a refrigerator. Joe said this helps it stay fresh and sweet-tasting for a longer period of time; about 8-10 days rather than the 5-7 you would get without the ice bath.
I have seen plenty of raw milk before, but I have never seen so much cream! The head is almost one third of the way down the jar! Now that is some good milk!
One great feature of Wholesome Family Farm is their quality control system. Each milk bottle lists which 2 cows the milk came from (they only ever mix 2 cows’ milk), the time it was milked, and the customer. That way, if someone reports any problems with their batch of milk, Joe and Cammie can more quickly narrow down the origin of the problem, because they know where it came from and when it happened.
Joe and Cammie became raw milk enthusiasts when their first-born developed a milk allergy. A friend introduced them to raw goat milk and they all loved it including their son! As a result of their discovery, they bought one, two, three, six goats, and later their first family cow. Since then, they have had six more children, started a dairy, and drink raw milk every chance they get!
Half of the cows are fed a 100% pasture grass diet; the other half is supplemented with soaked barley and other non-gmo grains. The completely grass fed milk is slightly more expensive, but definitely worth it.
They were more than happy to let us sample some of the milk. It was sweet, creamy, and slightly grassy, since it is early spring and the cows are feasting on fast-growing green grass.
We also sampled some of their unsalted butter. In addition to offering raw milk, they also offer butter, cream, and skim milk, which may be interchanged with regular milk as part of your cow-share.
Sometimes they have left-over milk. When I asked Joe what they do with the milk that is left he started laughing: “We drink it all! No one minds left over milk!”
After the inside tour, we went to hang out with the cows.
I was so happy to see these docile herd animals be treated with such kindness.
If you are interested in purchasing milk from this diary or any other, I highly recommend visiting the farm first. You want to get to know both the farmer and the cows that will be providing your family with such an important staple.
You can visit Wholesome Family Farm’s website here to see more information about their prices and touring availability. In Oregon, like most other states, the most common way to enjoy raw milk is to participate in a “cow-share”. Joe and Cammie explain the process in detail on their website. It is worth noting that, compared to many other small, local, raw dairy farmers, Wholesome’s is very affordable.
I know I am posting a lot of pictures of the cows; I wanted you to see all nine!
They seemed very relaxed, enjoying the first sunny day in a while.