Just about two years ago now, my wife and I began to frequent local farmers who offered grass-fed cow "milk-share" programs.  These programs offered us the ability to begin drinking and taking advantage of the super nutritious raw cow milk.  Now you cannot legally purchase raw cow milk in the state of Indiana, so in order to comply with the law, many local farmers who believe in grass feeding their animals started cow share programs, where as the customer (us in this case) could purchase a share of a cow, much like one can purchase a share of stock in a company, but instead of monetary dividends we actually received a gallon of raw milk per week.  In addition to the up front cost of the share (usually $50.00/share) there were also boarding and care costs which ran between $4.00 and $6.00 per week.  If you do the math (and forget about the up front share cost) this means that you;re spending between $4.00 and $6.00 per gallon of grass-fed raw cow's milk.  This really is not bad for the most nutritious milk on the planet, however when you're trying to provide for a family of 6, it can get quite expensive to try and purchase 3 gallons per week.  ($150 for the shares and $12.00 to $18.00 per week).  Hence the reason that we've been looking into purchasing our own family cow for milking. 

Since neither I or my wife come from a livestock farming background, we began the long journey to learn all that we could about how to raise a family milking cow.  About a year and a half into this learning process, (about 3 weeks ago) my wife, while attending a homeschool group meeting, had been talking about our experience with raw cow milk when another homeschool mom suggested that we try raw goat milk.  Now my wife had tried goat milk before (Nubian breed) and was very unimpressed by the flavor (even the kids wouldn't drink it), so she was very weary of trying it.  With the thought of goat milk in the back of her head and as she looked online for a closer place for us to purchase fresh eggs, she surfed our normal set of websites which support grass-fed animals as well are raw milk (Eat Wild & Real Milk) at which time she found a local farm less than 10 miles from our house that sold both raw goat milk and fresh eggs.  Needless to say, she decided to call the farm and talk with them about the eggs, but more importantly the quality and taste of their raw goat milk.  Heather, the owner of the farm, talked with my wife for about 30 minutes and stated that the milk from her Saanen goats (see photo above) was just as tasty if not tastier than that of a cow, and that if we ever wanted to stop by and try some for ourselves to just let her know and she would be more than happy to make it happen.  

Two days later we were off (all 6 of us) to the Turtle Haven Farm, where we met Heather in person for what we found out later would be a most serendipitous meeting.  During our time on her farm we were provided with a full tour of her farm, including a tour of her barn which housed the does (who at this point in the season were munching on some hay) and the area that she milks them by hand.  Last but not least prior to our departure she invited us into her home where she offered each one of us a glass of her prized Saanen milk.  I would be lying if I said that we were not a bit hesitant as we each raised our glasses, but to our surprise, this milk was OUTSTANDING, there was no goat or game flavor at all, even with the after taste.  Even my eldest daughter, who had been on a hiatus of the raw cow milk due to it's sometimes strong grass or nature flavor, liked it. 

Later that night my wife and I were talking and we think we've really found our answer in Saanen goats.  They're a smaller animal (versus a cow) which means that they are less intimidating for us as adults but also the kids.  Furthermore, based upon our conversations with Heather, as well as further research online and through The Stockman Grass Farmer, a grass-fed livestock magazine, these animals are more like pets (i.e. gentle) than they are livestock.  The overall startup costs would also be lower since the overall price of the animal is less and for the fact that less overall space is needed for grazing and shelter. 

So, what direction is the Wagar Family Farm moving as it pertains to providing the most healthy and nutritious raw milk?  Saanen goats for sure!

11/18/2007 21:03:15

Ahhh, those goats are cute. I can't wait to play with them or watch one of the brood ride one! I still fear the goat meat!


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