Saturday, May 25, 2013

Forget time share, I want a cow share!


I am being completely serious here.

I grew up in rural Southern Idaho but I was a townie. My father was a teacher,  and my mother still works for a farm equipment company. So farming was something I was vaguely familiar with but hadn't ever really done. We had a vegetable garden for several years and my husband and I have had a veg garden every year we've had a house, more or less.

Then several things happened over the course of many years that changed my view of farming.
First this country girl (who coincidentally had never thought of herself as such) moved to the "Big City!" 

Now don't laugh. 

Coming from a small town where everyone knew everyone; Salt Lake City seemed huge.  It took 20 minutes to get from my small town to the "big" town where the mall is and between them were fields as far as they eye can see, and cows.  Lots of cows.  In Salt Lake everything runs together. You can't tell where one town begins and another ends! So to me it seemed so large! 
And freeway driving!? FORGET IT!  I refused to drive on the freeway the first 3 months we lived here.  Most of my driving had been done on sleepy highways and quiet country roads so forget Utah freeways!  In truth I still hate driving on the freeway and I have lived here over 12 years.  Utah drivers are crazy!  I am sure people say that about their own cities but seriously you can see some of the nicest people you have ever met turn into enormous rage monsters once they get behind the wheel.  In Utah they are usually enraged soccer moms. I am no exception to this rule, except the soccer mom part, but I digress... 

When I became pregnant with my first child I read an article by Michael Pollan.  It was about how he had begun to wonder where his food actually comes from and decided to buy a calf and follow its progression from farm to CAFO to plate. It was an amazing, humorous and horrifying glimpse into the world of food production. I ran home and told my hubs all about it.  He wasn't as surprised as I was,  he actually grew up on and worked on a dairy or two.
But it got us both thinking about alternatives to where our food comes from.
Not to long after that I developed asthma and the doctors wanted to put me on a steroid. One of the possible side effects was violent hallucinations. I was breast feeding at the time and suffering from postpartum depression. So violent hallucinations weren't anything I wanted to mess with in any way.  The Dr. dismissed my worries and questions treating me like I was a paranoid idiot.
I called my husband in tears.  Bad enough I was a new mom away from my family,  no real support network,  suffering depression and now I had a Dr who was supposed to help me treating me like I was crazy just because I dared to doubt his word!

I was quickly losing faith in the mainstream food and medical industries.

Luckily for me we have a friend who is a homeopathic practitioner and Chinese medicine specialist.  We threw the meds in the trash and went to her that day.  She was (and still is) marvelous.  She listened to me, didn't dismiss my fears and worries and helped me find a way to control my asthma without meds.
Then I saw the films Food Inc and Super Size Me.  My (food) world was literally rocked off its foundations.  We started reading every Michael Pollan book we could get our hands on and began talking about chickens and getting a place out in the "country". 
Child number two arrived, the housing bubble burst,  the economy crumbled and selling our house so we could move into the country was no longer a possibility.
My children are now 6 and 4. We are still in the same house, living in the semi-ghetto.  We plant a garden every year, which our boys love.  My youngest will eat vegetables but usually only from the garden.
We try to eat mostly plants.  Because we are lower income we don't eat a whole lot of meat, which honestly, considering the things I have learned about the meat industry, is a good thing!
We don't eat out nearly as often as we did before Michael Pollan came into our lives.
In fact my children don't like chicken nuggets or Mac and cheese from a box.  They think the powdered cheese tastes gross!  (Am I doing a happy dance?  Heck yeah! ) They prefer my from scratch Mac and cheese! 
Do they like fast food?  Of course they do, it is manufactured to speak directly to our biology.  Lots of fats, sugar and carbs.  So yes occasionally my kids get a fast food meal but it is usually rare and considered a special treat.  I don't mean to come off like I am better than anyone else because believe me usually all my 4 year old wants to eat is "peanut butter sandwich with honey!" (And 6 times out of 10 I just give in and give him one) I swear he asks for it for every meal and half the time he won't eat what is actually on his plate!  It is frustrating,  I have bribed him with desert.  Doesn't work. I have tried forcing the food into his mouth or tricking the food into his mouth. Doesn't work.  He is one stubborn monster but I have learned if I keep putting the good stuff on his plate he will eat it,  eventually.  It took a YEAR! Yes a whole year! before he would even try carrots,  asparagus or broccoli.  It doesn't usually take most children this long but Sam is nothing if not stubborn!  Which only proves that this is something you inherit. I swear he is my grandpa reincarnated!
My oldest has always eaten his vegetables.  I have never had trouble getting him to eat.  Which, of course, just makes it even more frustrating when DS #2 won't. 
So yes my kids have better eating habits than a lot of their peers,  but trust me if you gave them a choice between cake and a carrot, they would take the cake! LOL!
So my dreams of acres of space for my children to run freely on and not have to worry about traffic (we live on a very busy road) were dashed.  I looked into getting chickens which is actually allowed in our county. However,  the coop must be a ridiculous amount of space from not only our own door but every one of our neighbors doors too. Though with some strategic planning it may yet be a possibility. We can't have roosters (though I know for a fact someone near me does I hear him every morning) and we can only have so many hens but we are only a family of four so we wouldn't need many anyway. 

I am however pretty sure they won't let me get a cow.  (Yes finally we get to the cow!) 

After I had my first son I read a book called The Untold Story Of Milk.  It was a very interesting look at why and how milk became the pasteurized less nutritious substance we are familiar with today and why that may not be a good thing.  So we went looking for raw (unpasteurized) milk.  We found a goat farm, Drake Family Farms (in the middle of Salt Lake City!) that sells raw milk, cheese and yogurt.  Unfortunately it is waaay out of our budget and though we did buy some milk on that visit, we haven't been able to go back.  It is just too expensive for us.  However since reading about the benefits of raw milk, I have wanted to get a cow of my own. 

Crazy right?

A townie who now lives in urban sprawl wants a cow!  What do I know about cows?  Nothing.  Not a thing. All I know is that when they are calves they are super cute!
My husband who, as I mentioned before, worked on a dairy has told me that cows are big smelly and stupid. You must,  MUST milk them twice a day or they will also be miserable cows. 
Do I still want one?  YUP!

I want to do a cow share.  They are expensive beasts to buy, feed and to take care of. (At lease I think they probably are, I haven't done a great deal of research into this since I am pretty sure I couldn't have one on my current property)
So why not get a group of like minded people who go in together on getting a cow? Buying its feed, paying for the medical whatever and in return they all get a share of the milk, butter, and cheese that comes from said cow? 

There you have it.

My idea for a cow share, way better than a time share in my opinion!  I realize this idea is probably not new or revolutionary in anyway but I still think it's brilliant ;)

My cow would be grass fed (way better for you than corn fed). She would only take medicine when absolutely necessary (no crazy antibiotics regimens for my sweet Bessie Thank you!) and of course because I didn't grow up on a farm I would think of her as a pet. A family member really, rather than just some beast who is here only to serve my needs.

(Yeah I would probably put bows on her ears and dress her up on Halloween too,  but how cute would that be?!)

So that is my fantasy. I know in reality things would be totally different.  I mean in reality you have to muck stalls and other yucky things but I would just delegate that to my hubs! (Which is probably just another fantasy! LOL!) 

So yeah I want a cow and chickens and a goat (a fainting one!) and space and green things.
Someday,  hopefully in the not too distant future, say 3 or 4 years, this dream will become a reality. 

So in the mean time think about it. Wanna go in on a cow together?

(Aren't they cute!? The furry ones are my favorite!)

***here are some links to some of the people, films, books, and cows I mentioned that have changed the way I think about food!***

For all things Michael Pollan:

Information about the documentary Food Inc.

Where to buy the documentary Super Size Me:

The local goat farm! Drake Family Farms

Where to buy The Untold Story of Milk (You may be able to find a copy at your local library as well)

Information on Highland Cattle: (the cute furry ones from the pics!)