Let me set the record straight.
We haven't always been crazy.
I grew up on a conventional dairy farm - in fact the same farm we live on today. My dad milked about 60 cows twice a day, 365 days a year for 35 years.
Don't worry, I did the math for you...that's 25,550 milkings.
Life on the farm was great. Lots of work, but looking back, it was a great place to grow up. However, the time came when we started leaving for college. This left a ton of work for two people. As if the daily grind wasn't enough, a knee injury was the final straw. The cows needed to go. As much as it broke my parent's hearts, it had to be done.
So, in 2010 my dad milked his cows for the last time and said good-bye to the only life he knew.
After the cows were gone and he had a few minutes to breathe, books by Joel Salatin like "Folks, This Ain't Normal", "Everything I want to do is Illegal", and others such as "Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food" began piling up on his bookshelf.
He kept all this information secret while we continued to live a "normal" life.
Meanwhile, I was off at college at Winona State working towards my R.N. degree which I received in 2010. Tom and I were married a month after graduation.
He was working as a power lineman in New Ulm and I was commuting to Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Thankfully, the commute ended after about a year when I was able to get a job at the New Ulm Medical Center.
We thought we had the rest of our lives figured out.
We welcomed our daughter two years later. Anyone who has kids knows they change you forever. The unconditional love you have for your children is so powerful. It was this undeniable love that was the spark behind our dream of raising only the best food. And so, our plans changed. We left our comfortable life in town and moved to the farm when she was a year old.
We asked ourselves, if we can't raise food good enough to feed the most important people in our lives, then why are we doing it?
Fast forward 4 years...and 2 more have been added to the bunch! In fact, these goof balls are the 6th generation in our family to be farming this land.
In my few years as an RN, I've come to realize our healthcare system doesn't do a very good job at keeping people well. Watching the pain and suffering cancer and many other diseases has inflicted on so many families is heart breaking.
One day at work, I was chatting with a coworker who also works in Oncology. I asked her how everything was going in her department. She shook her head no and said, "We're seeing so many young people with cancer, something just isn't right." I said, "Like people in their 50's?" and she said, "No, like people in their 30-40's."
I don't know about you, but I'm not okay with that. Do we really just have to accept that cancer will be apart of our lives? Think of how much living a 30 or 40 year old has to do!
I believe anyone working in healthcare has a strong desire for people to be well. That's what we do. We help people get well.
Looking back, I can still hear multiple nursing professors saying, "People are just more sick these days." Why is this? Yes, I do believe part of it is better technology. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't think it had to do with the food people are eating.
While I don't claim that real food is the answer to everyone's problems, I do think it is one very big piece of the puzzle
So, back to the guy with all the free-time now...
With all of the reading, he came across numerous articles about raw milk. I know...seems scary, right? My sister and I were sitting down with him one day and he said wanted to try something but it had to be kept a secret.
He wanted to start milking one cow and drink the milk.
Raw. Like straight from the cow.
Excuse me?? No way, you've lost it, sir.
After the initial shock (my sister, who is also an RN, knew that didn't fly with being "healthy") we began doing our homework.
Our noses were buried in books. Countless hours were spent searching the internet and reading what so many others have discovered already.
Food is meant to nourish our bodies and unfortunately, most of the way food is produced today is making us sick.
In fact, in 2015 The World Health Organization classified Glyphosate (aka Round-up) as "a probable carcinogen to humans." Let me translate...Round-up "probably" causes cancer.
Let me also translate this...Round-up is in just about everything that you eat. Round-up ready crops make the largest portion of crops planted in the U.S. and it all ends up in your food.
With this information coming from the World Health Organization, don't you think Glyphosate and GMOs should be banned for human consumption? They are already banned in several countries. But why not here?
To make a long story short...he started milking one cow - by hand. It certainly wasn't his first rodeo. Remember those 25,550 milkings?
We purchased our first two Guernseys, Abby and Stella. A couple of years later we bought another one...her name is Annie.
These three ladies spend their days grazing out in fresh green grass. In exchange, they provide us with the smoothest, creamiest milk I've ever tasted. From that milk we also make butter, ice cream, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and kefir.
To be honest, these girls are my most favorite part about this farm. They have provided my children with an endless supply of nutrient dense milk and for that I will be forever grateful.
I joke to Tom and say we've really put ourselves in a bind because there is no way we'll be able to go back to buying milk from the store. We're going to have to milk cows until the day we die!
Around the same time that the milk cows came, my dad also took a leap of faith and converted 8 acres of his precious farmland into pasture. Keep in mind there was no guarantee that it would make him any money or that the grass would even grow! Year after year, we've watched the pasture flourish and come back more lush and beautiful. Today, we have about 50 acres of pasture that we raise our chickens and beef and milk cows on.
We also started experimenting with pigs. We've expanded from 3 pigs three years ago to 25 pigs this year.
Tom and I ended up buying some farmland and with that came an abandoned farm site. We gave the pigs full access to the 7 acres of grass and wooded land, complete with a swimming pool - of mud of course. They had a blast ripping through the dirt with their snouts and rubbing up against the trees.
What farm would be complete without chickens? For many years they spent their days wandering around the farm. This past year we built 2 hen houses so they can follow the cows out in pasture while adding fertility to the soil, reducing the fly population and putting breakfast on our table.
Any guess which egg is one of our pasture raised eggs and which one is from the grocery store?
I'll be honest, I don't have a lot of faith in the current food system. There's not enough transparency and accountability.
However, what is inspiring to me is to see the growing movement of people who want to know where their food comes from.
How can you help? Vote with your dollars. By supporting a local farmer who is passionate about raising high quality food, you are helping free animals from unacceptable living conditions, putting an end to disease causing food, healing the soil that has been so badly beaten and most importantly rekindling relationships between farmer and consumer.
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