Last weekend, Sweet Husband and I bought a cow, a herd of cows in fact. Three of 'em. Didn't catch all of their names, but the leader of the pack is named "Black Cherry" and she makes the tastiest milk.
OK--don't freak out Mom--we didn't really buy a herd of cows to bring home, we bought a share in the herd. Why would we do that? For milk. Specifically raw milk.
It's a funny legal issue actually, but in many states farmers are not allowed to sell raw milk. There are some good reasons behind this--you certainly wouldn't want to buy raw milk from just anyone, as cleanliness is obviously a must--however, during the pasteurization process lots of good bugs and vitamins are killed along with any bad ones that might be present. Essentially, it's a balancing act between health and safety. There are risks--and you should definitely do your own research before making a decision--but my conclusion has been that if I could find a farmer I felt I could trust to run a clean ship, the benefits of buying raw milk would outweigh the risks.
In Kansas, you can buy raw milk, but only if you either go to the farm that sells it (possibly inconvenient) or own the animal producing it yourself.
Which is why I now own a share in a herd of dairy cows.
We bought our share from the lovely Amy of Amy's Meats. The initial share cost was $30. We then pay $16 a month room and board for our cows, and get a half-gallon of milk a week--about the going local price for organic milk. And it is awesome! I'm not actually a big milk drinker even, but you really can tell the difference. It's almost as drastic as homegrown summer tomatoes vs. the mealy winter store-bought version.
So now we've got milk. And with it I'm going to start a new project--some hardcore cheese-making.
I'm thinking of using Home Cheese Making as a guide and doing, I don't know...two cheeses a month? Anyone interested in joining me to make it a group project?