As a child all I drank was milk. This is not an exaggerated statement, my parents will back me on this one. What did I want at every meal? Whole cow milk. When I was tired and thirsty from playing, I drank milk. Even when the other kids asked for juice, I asked for milk. And then when I was 10 years old I suffered a freak medical complication when doctors discovered 2 golf ball-sized calcium deposits in my gall bladder. I have a scar that runs from just below my sternum to my belly button to prove it.
I don’t know if it was my transition into diet-conscious teenagehood or my later adult doubt that given the absence of my gall bladder it wasn’t really good for me, but at some point I stopped drinking milk. On a rare occasion Brad and I would grab a quart of the good stuff to wash down some cookies, but I had all but suppressed my love of the liquid gold until I moved to North Mountain Pastures. Here there is herd of Nubian goats who roam the farm, grazing freely, and provide us with about 3 gallons of raw milk a day. Between the 6 adults and 2 children living here, we drink it all.
At first it was just with meals. I quickly adjusted to the routine habit of grabbing a mason jar and pouring myself a glass or two at the table. I would resist pouring a third. But as the farm season wore on, and the long days of farm work caught up with me, I stopped getting up early enough to eat breakfast and starting drinking more milk instead. I found that the delicious, cold, creamy beverage was not only the perfect refresher on a hot day, but it seemed to be a good source of protein and calories that could keep me going through hours of farm chores or a long day at farmers’ market. Lately I consume a half gallon per day, sometimes more.
In a recent chore rotation it finally became my turn to milk the goats. I was all too happy to do my part in providing the tasty stuff I’ve grown so dependent on. But I also found myself looking forward to the quiet solo hour in the barn spent cultivating trust and milking these wonderful creatures. Like any animals, they are conscious of your energy and mood. Keeping them calm while you sit by their side, yanking on their udders, or “nu-nus” as we call them, is a task I love. When Red Sonja gets fussy I just give here a moment and stroke her side. And when Gracey gets cranky and threatens to kick the bucket, I’ve found a little singing will chill her out. I love to pet their cheeks and thank them before they leave the milking stand, particularly Baby, who always gazes intensely back at you with her freaky alien-like goat eyes.
After milking I carry the frothy buckets back to the farmhouse to filter the fresh milk into jars and pour myself a glass or three of the cold stuff from the fridge. The goats go about their day and so do I, fueled by raw liquid gold. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to quiet the milk monster in me again.