Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Got Milk?

I went out to buy milk today. My trip to "the store" was most likely a little different than most people's would be.

This ain't farmin' country up here, folks. (Heck, there are some who would say it's not even gardening country!) The county is heavily forested, and any parcels of land boasting something that resembles actual soil (as opposed to rock, gravel, shale, or granite) are few and far between. In the whole county, in the past 35-40 years, there have been only three bona fide farms. All three raising beef cattle. Two of the farms were owned by brothers who are basically retired now. The son of one of them had a dream all of his life of operating a dairy farm, and this he has done for the past couple of years. It's been an uphill battle but he's doing his best . . . and producing wonderful, raw milk products that we purchase at the farm. We regularly get whole milk, butter, cream for my coffee lovin' husband's coffee, and skim milk for my morning latte. The milk house on the farm is open 24/7. Anyone can come and purchase what they need any time day or night and payment is on the honor system. I can't fully express how lucky we are and grateful we feel to have this hard-working family providing their healthy, nutritious products for us.

My drive to the farm is about nine miles one way. The above picture shows the approach to the farm which is way, way, way down at the end of the road with the Big Lake on the horizon. It's a totally gorgeous place, and my little camera doesn't do it justice.

Coming home today I did a little dawdling. There is a bridge going over a small river that I cross. On the return trip I had to stop to take this shot of the water that is nearly bursting its banks with the current snow melt. So beautiful.

Farther on down the road, on a little side shoot off the main road, is a secluded cemetery containing the graves of many of the very first settlers of the county, along with graves filled as recently as . . . well, apparently very soon to come now as witnessed by the mound of earth and newly dug hole I saw when I was there today. I went thinking I could get a picture or two of the grounds to put in this post. The area is surrounded by and dotted with tall evergreens and maple trees. I know of very few places that exude such a sense of absolute peace and calm. Beautiful at any time of year, in the autumn with the maple leaves carpeting the whole area it is a sight to behold. But today, and I shouldn't have been surprised, all but the tippy-tops of monuments and grave stones were still covered solidly with snow. So I'll save trying to capture the unique charm of this cemetery to put in a blog at a later date.

Yup, I went out to buy milk today . . . and my trip to "the store" was enjoyed and appreciated to the hilt. Now I'm going to go enjoy some chocolate chip cookies and a glass of ice cold, fresh milk!


RuthieJ said...

I imagine there are plenty of obstacles to dairy farming up there in the northwoods--especially finding enough food for Elsie and her friends to eat to make all that delicious milk. We take it for granted down here seeing dairy cows hanging out in field eating grass all summer long and farmers being able to raise their own alfalfa to store away for winter feeding.

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Ruthie - So right you are! Our dairyman had his cows out in the field this week just to get them out in the fresh air, but there is no grass for them yet so he has to haul baled hay out to them. Also, something many farmers don't have to worry about: he loses livestock to the wolves nearly every year.

MaineCelt said...

Wonderful journey--thanks for taking us along!

We get our milk from a farm about 25 minutes' drive away, and somehow it always feels like we're driving to the back of beyond. But oh, it's lovely when we get there. The cows are a very rare, endangered breed called Randall Lineback. They have white faces with black noses and dark rings around their eyes which make them look very soulful.

My grandpa had a dairy farm with Guernseys, so naturally they're my favourite dairy breed, but I'm fond of the Randalls, Irish Dexters, and Milking Devons too. (I'd milk one of our Scottish Highland cows, as they're supposed to have extremely rich milk, but I haven't the right equipment to safely stabilize those massive horns!)

Mama Pea said...

Hi, MaineCelt - Dangerous horns of your Scottish Highlands aside, wouldn't it be just so wonderful to experience some of their super-rich milk? Cream-on-the-hoof . . . from your very own cows!