Thursday, March 28, 2013

Got (RAW) Milk?

This is a pretty controversial subject, and I have debated posting about this.  However, I try to be as transparent as possible, educate, and let you know what successes and failures we encounter along the way.  As I have mentioned before, Raegan has a milk allergy.  She can't drink milk, and for quite some time, couldn't even eat cheese, yogurt or anything with milk in it.  So, I started researching alternatives.  At a year old, we put her on almond milk, which she drank for about 6 weeks and then just flat refused it.  At her 16 month check up, she was underweight, and only in the 14th percentile for weight.  I did MORE research and this is what we've decided to do: drink raw milk.  Raw milk is just milk straight from the cow, unpasteurized and not homogenized.  Please don't leave me any nasty comments or when you see me, make a cross and run away.  We have researched this.  I have my Masters in Public Health, and YES!  I'm a public health employee that drinks RAW milk!  EEEEKKKK!!!!  Let me tell you why we made the switch.  Again, this is not to change your mind on the issue, but to instead educate you about WHY we switched. 

Here are our top 10 reasons for the switch:

1. Raw milk is vastly more nutritious than pasteurized milk.

2. Raw milk contains enzymes.  “Pasteurization destroys all the enzymes in milk— in fact, the test for successful pasteurization is absence of enzymes. These enzymes help the body assimilate all bodybuilding factors, including calcium. That is why those who drink pasteurized milk may suffer, nevertheless, from osteoporosis.” — Sally Fallon-Morell,

3.  Raw milk contains probiotics.  “Bacteria have a reputation for causing disease, so the idea of tossing down a few billion a day for your health might seem — literally and figuratively — hard to swallow. But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that you can treat and even prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria. Northern Europeans consume a lot of these beneficial microorganisms, called probiotics (from pro and biota, meaning “for life”), because of their tradition of eating foods fermented with bacteria, such as yogurt. Probiotic-laced beverages are also big business in Japan.” — Harvard Medical School, “Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics”

4.  Raw milk is easier to digest — even for the lactose intolerant.

5.  Raw milk is safer than pasteurized milk. It contains “built-in safety systems” that help destroy pathogens:

While raw milk often gets blamed for food-borne illnesses, the truth is, raw milk is safer than salad:

6.  Raw milk is better for cows.

 I always figured “organic milk” was the very best. But I was wrong. Organic milk often comes from cows in factories. Did you know, for example, that Horizon is a factory farm? I didn’t. I believed they were “happy cows”.

Unless the cows are raised on pasture, they are not healthy and they are certainly not happy. And if a cow is not healthy, how can her milk be healthy?

A cow in confinement lives on average for just 3.5 years. A cow grazing on pasture? Twelve years or more.

7.  Clean, nutritious milk comes from healthy cows that eat grass, not sick cows eating grain.  Most cows, even at the “organic” dairies, are fed grain — corn and soy. Cows were never meant to eat grain. They are meant to eat grass, and to graze on pasture. When cows are fed grain, even organic grain, it makes them sick.

8.  Raw milk is better for farmers. Raw milk can help turn the economy around in rural America.  This is one of my biggest reasons. I don’t know about you, but I hate what’s become of rural America. A few decades ago, people still raised their own food on small farms. Now our small farms have almost been completely wiped out by corporate America. Now instead of small farms with organic vegetables and cows grazing on pasture, we have Wal-Marts full of processed crap.

9.  Raw milk doesn’t go “bad” like pasteurized milk does.  If you leave a gallon of pasteurized milk on the counter overnight, what happens to it? It goes bad! But if you leave a gallon of raw milk out, you can do all kinds of things with it. You can separate the cream. You can make butter, buttermilk, and whey. You can make yogurt. You can make cheese. You can add kefir or filmjolk culture and make all kinds of fermented treats.

10.  Raw milk tastes better! Ask my family!!!  Pyper went from rarely drinking milk to asking for 2-3 glasses a day.  She has always suffered from constipation, but since drinking raw milk, her bowels have regulated.  I chalk it up to the probiotics.  Raegan still wont DRINK milk (in her mind, the white stuff makes her sick), but I put it in custards, puddings, yogurt, butter, and other recipes and Raegan has had zero issues with digesting it.  Even Shannon, who was very skeptical, has admitted to preferring it.  I love how rich and creamy it tastes. 

It is illegal in the state of Va to buy raw milk, but we have joined a herd share at a local dairy.  They deliver our milk every Monday to the pharmacy.  The dairy has an open door policy, and we can go there anytime unannounced.  They don't have anything to hide.  They have happy, healthy cows.  The herd share costs $40/month, and we get a gallon a week.  Yes, if you do the math, it costs $10 a gallon, but I am able to make butter, yogurt and siphon off the cream for baking or my coffee, so it evens out.  I do want to try my hand at cheese making.  Maybe one day...

**Thanks to for her informative post, that I have essentially plagiarized.  I just couldn't have said it better!**

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Notes of Gratitude

A few months ago, I blogged about my friend, Sarina and her girls getting snowed in with us.  They live in sunny Florida (oh, how I wish I were there now!).  They made such an impression on me, how bright, kind, well behaved they were, that I wanted to show my appreciation to Sarina for raising such amazing young ladies.  Oh, did I mention that Sarina home schools these gems?  

I asked Sarina what her middle daughter, Averie would like, and she said she's interested in Native American costumes.  SO, I headed to JoAnn's and whipped this one up for her. The beaded necklace was made by Pyper, the feathers were donated by Fannie, our lost chicken, and I made the costume.  I think it turned out great.  Clearly, Averie thought so.

Hailey, the eldest, loves Breyer horses.  I went to Tractor Supply and picked up some small Appaloosa horses for her collection.  When she was visiting, she went into great detail about the horses she had along with the barns, paddocks, etc.  I will always encourage a little girl's love for my favorite animal.

 Amelia, the youngest, is obsessed with the Little Mermaid and anything to do with mermaids.  She saw and played with the mermaid tail I made for Pyper, and she told me she would love one, too.  Hint, hint!  I love that little girl!  So, I made a mermaid tail for her.

I mailed the package with a letter and I immediately got these pictures from Sarina.  Knowing the gifts were well received made it worth it!  But the BEST part????

 Look at what I got in the mail yesterday!!!!

 Wonderful drawings, with flap doors showing horses and chickens and chicks...

 A well written letter, with proper grammar, letter structure and another great drawing.

 A cute letter with another flap door showing another horse peeking out.

And a beautiful drawing of  Black Leopard Appaloosa!

This just touched me so much because kids are no longer taught to write thank you notes.  Let alone take the time away from TV or video games to draw what they love best.  I, personally, chalk it up to the parents.  Sarina and her husband have taught the girls that this is the polite and respectful response to receiving gifts.  My mom and dad always had me write thank you notes, and many of my friends even now, make fun of me for dropping a note of thanks in the mail when they have done something over and beyond.  I will teach my girls this skill as well.  Besides, it put a Perma-Grin on my face and I'll treasure these notes of thanks.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Easy Custard

I've been searching for yummy recipes to not only use up my copious amounts of eggs (getting on average 4-5/day), but also a recipe that Raegan will enjoy so she'll fatten up.  Since she's had a milk allergy, she won't drink milk.  However, she can eat cheese, yogurt and eat anything with milk products in it.  Strange.  SO, I found this very easy and delicious custard for her. 

 Start with 5 egg yolks.  See how orange and beautiful these are?  I have happy chickens!

 1 tsp of vanilla extract.  However, I use Vanilla Bean Paste.  It's amazing.  It has such a robust and wonderful flavor.   It's like the difference between hamburger and steak.  I got this at Ross, for $5.99.  Originally about $11.  Every time I go there, I pick one up in the kitchen area.  Why I love this paste so much???  It even has the bean flecks in the syrup.  MMMMMM....

 Mix 1/2 Cup of heavy whipping cream, 1/2 Cup of whole milk, put in a sauce pan and bring nearly to a boil.  Then add 1/4 Cup of raw honey (I use local to prevent allergies!) and mix with the egg yolks.  Be sure to temper the egg solution so the eggs don't curdle...

I found these custard cups at Walmart.  They are the perfect size (8 oz) for this recipe to make 4 dishes.  First, warm a water bath in the oven on 325 degrees.  Then add the empty cups.  I fill them to about an inch from the top, and run through the oven for 1 hour or until golden on top, like below...

 I was worried Raegan wouldn't like custard because she's funny with textures.  BUT, as you can see...she LOVES them!  And I feel really good giving this to my kiddos because there is no refined sugar, and only natural ingredients (including RAW milk...a post later about that!)! 

Bake on!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


This past Saturday, we had an exciting event happen in Rural Retreat.  Well, exciting for US.  I got an email from the Rural Retreat Train Depot Foundation (Shannon and I are on the renovation board) that stated: "The excursion train will operate from Bristol, VA to Radford, VA and return, bringing out the glories of the season through the rolling Southwest Virginia hills while celebrating the grand return of 21st Century Steam with historic Southern Railway steam locomotive #630 from the Tennessee Valley Railway Museum in Chattanooga.  We expect the train to pass by the Rural Retreat Depot headed east between 10 and 11 AM, and to come back by headed west between 4 and 5 PM.  ALL TIMES ARE ESTIMATES."  Well, we HAD to go down and see this real steam engine.  Pyper was soooo excited (even though she doesn't show it in the pics!)

Above tot he left is  O. Winston Link's "Pelican at Rural Retreat"   December 24, 1957 This print hangs in the Library of Congress.  The pic to the right was taken on Saturday...                                           

 I love this depot.  We are hoping it will be renovated to it's former glory one day....

 Pyper refused to look at the camera...

 "HERE IT COMES!!!" Pyper screamed. 

 It was sooo loud, but exciting!  We had put pennies on the rails to have a memento...

 We sang, "Little Red Caboose," a cute song I learned in Kindergarten in Mrs. Riddle's class as we would line up to walk anywhere...

Sara and her kids got there a little bit late to see the train, but they heard it from their house.  It was a great day. 

Monday, March 4, 2013


I went to the library a few weeks ago and came home with some wonderful treasures.  I found this book that I have found fascinating.  It is so well written and the pictures are great.  It's like a time machine.  John Seymour, the author, was raised in Wales and he writes of his personal reflections of growing up in a time I can only read about.  It does remind me of stories my Grannie use to tell me about. 

 I really liked this part about how milk was stored, carried and essentially the task of getting milk.  I'm a bit obsessed on the milk issue lately (have you seen that documentary Food Inc., King Corn or Farmageddon???  If not, turn this blog off NOW and rent them, choose it on Netflix, Roku, whatever.  It will change how you view food and milk.)
What's better than butter?  My mom would say a close second would be cream.  I agree with her.  These are old fashioned butter molds, and I thought they were really cool.  Did you know that butter was sold by the yard back at the turn of the century?  It was.  I learned that by reading this book.  Cool, huh?
I just finished reading this gem of a book.  I think I'm going to get it for everyone I know for Christmas act surprised people!  It's written by a native Virginian, Joel Salatin, owner and operator of Polyface Farms in Swope, Va. He puts such an intelligent spin on farming that makes you take a step back and say, "Huh.  I never thought of it that way."  He is so intelligent, that I feel smarter by just reading it.  You will too.  I promise!  Great resource for homesteaders, people who want to grow their food, or just people who want to know WHERE their food is coming from.  Fantastic read.  Have I said that yet???
This one is another favorite this week.  I typically read several books at one time.  This one is my "I'm slow in clinic and have time to read about raising pork" book.  I keep it in my purse, so if there's a lag between university students getting their monthly STD screenings, I can just whip it out and pass the time with swine.  I really want to raise my own pigs, but Shannon is a bit apprehensive.  If he read this book, he wouldn't be.  His biggest concern is our farm smelling.  If a farm smells, it's not being managed properly.  Bottom line.  Not to mention, I'm going to raise my porkers on pasture.  Not confined in a pen.  They'll have 10 acres to squeal and root and poop.  YUM!  One of technicians at the pharmacy, Joy, her husband was raised on a farm and he offered to help me butcher mine.  I think it would be a learning experience, and I think I'd like to try my hand at it.  I'll keep on working on Shannon and let you when/if he comes around.