Learning to culture my own homemade dairy foods has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. The flavors are beyond delicious, the health benefits greater than anything you can buy at a regular store, and the experience of learning the skills profoundly revealing.
I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to learn to milk both goats and cows and then to turn the delicious, God-given food into sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt, kefir (especially kefir!), cultured butter, and a bunch of delicious cheeses.
You Couldn’t Pay Me Enough
I want to share with you a passage from a book we recently got — Greg Judy’s No-Risk Ranching. He expresses why I’m glad my children are growing up doing farm chores — and things I even feel about myself getting this experience as an adult!
“Our family moved to Missouri in 1966, mainly to escape the long cold winters. My Dad sold the dairy cows shortly thereafter and went to work in town. He kept one cow for the family milk needs. I used to watch in amazement how my dad blasted the milk streams into the bucket with his powerful hands and with such great rhythm. When I reached seven years of age I asked him one night if I could try milking the cow. From that point on, I had the job until I moved away from home after high school!
I remember the freezing mornings, how the back of your fingers and hands would freeze as you tried to get done as fast as possible. The cow was always kicking at biting flies, and runny manure-laden tails would smack you in the face while you tried to milk in the hot summer months. After milking, I let the milk cow’s calf have half of one hind teat. You had to wrestle the calf away from the cow before turning the cow out to grass. As the calf grew it got to be quite a chore. You grabbed him by an ear and the tail and with a lot of momentum because the calf always outweighed you. He was never ready to leave.
After the milking, I would strain the milk through a fine cloth to remove any debris. I remember my grade school principal telling me that it was unsafe to drink the raw milk; we were supposedly at risk of contracting all kinds of diseases! I asked him what he drank while he was growing up? I never heard any more from him about unsafe milk. It was an extremely satisfying feeling to head to the house with a bucket full of fresh milk for the family. The cow was always ready to go back to grazing. The calf was full. The barn cats had a little milk. And I usually poured a little out for the meat hogs on the way to the house. Life was good.
As a youngster, there were times when I was milking the cow that I would have rather have been doing about anything else. But guess what? You couldn’t pay me enough to give up that experience now. It taught me responsibility, a work ethic, and a daily job that had to be done twice a day by me or it would not get done. I know this is not possible, but it would be fantastic if every kid had some type of chores with an animal every day.” –Greg Judy, No-Risk Ranching
He didn’t go into it (and I don’t know him to ask him), but I like to think that his mom (or sisters?) probably took that milk and created all sorts of nutritious cultured dairy foods out of it, giving their family another “I wouldn’t trade it for the world” growing up experience.
Important Virtues Nurtured on the Farm
Joann S. Grohman, author of Keeping a Family Cow, shares the importance of farming and dairying in recent history:
“The dairy cow doesn’t ask for much but she asks every day. People who are creating wealth with a cow either are hard working and reliable or they get that way in a hurry. The fine farms of Europe, England, New England and much of the United States were all established thanks to the wealth derived from cows. … It is certainly no coincidence that such a large number of our finest American statesmen were born on farms. Important virtues are nurtured on the farm, including a graphic understanding of the relationship between working and eating.” –Joann S. Grohman, Keeping a Family Cow
How fortunate we are that even today — in the midst of a society that is vastly raised on boxed non-foods and has no relationship to the farm whatsoever — we can still learn to milk dairy animals or make our own homemade cultured dairy… or even both!
Whether you’re doing it all yourself, or taking a trip to the farm each week for your weekly cow or goat share, you and your children are getting a marvelous and unparalleled education. You’re working hard, reaping the rewards, learning how it is all done, most importantly, seeing God’s hand in it all — from how the animals feast on His grass, to how we and assorted farm animals feast on the abundant milk, and finally to how we make beautiful, delicious and healthy cultured dairy foods.
I Am Grateful
I couldn’t be happier about what my family is doing and learning, and I’m just about positive you share the same feelings about the traditions you’re keeping or learning in your home.
Please share in the comments about your “farm life” — whether you live it or you support it, I want to hear your experiences!
A year ago, I put together the Cultured Dairy and Basic Cheese module of the Traditional Cooking School membership materials. This includes dozens of video and print tutorials exclusively for members of GNOWFGLINS. Check it out here.
But while online videos and lessons and forum support prove to be very popular and helpful, others just want something they can take home and study independently. That’s why we compile all the print lessons of each topic into stand-alone, single-download, independent-study eBooks. We did this to create the Fundamentals eBook and then the Sourdough eBook.
Cultured Dairy and Basic Cheese eBook — Now Available
I’m pleased to share that our third eBook — the Cultured Dairy and Basic Cheese eBook — is out and available. Ready to learn simple, delicious, healthy cultured dairy recipes? Now you can!
Our newest eBook contains all 18 print lessons of the online module, teaching you how to make your own sour cream, yogurt, kefir, cultured butter, buttermilk, basic cheeses and more! If you’re not into videos, membership, or forum interaction but want to learn how to culture dairy easily at home — this eBook is for you.
Lots of members like the eBooks to save time downloading and organizing single lesson print materials. Plus, members get a discount on our eBooks.
Just to be clear: You do not need your own cow to make use of this eBook. You do not even have to have raw milk. I cover all your options inside. 🙂
Do you raise dairy animals? How do you feel about it?
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