Tuesday, 1 January 2008


My first encounter with raw milk was when I was about eight years old. I had Godparents who had a farm. One of those traditional farms with a hayloft, duck pond, cowshed across the muddy cobbled farmyard, little hen houses (just for night time), a water pump and fields of cows and sheep.

I always enjoyed going there for holidays with my family. The house was built in the 13th century and the house had subsided over the years so climbing the stairs was an adventure. Each stair had sagged so they were all at different angles. Of course those living there would be so used to this that their bodies would compensate for this idiosyncrasy. But for a visiting eight year old it was like climbing a dark wooden mountain.

Once I got onto the first floor things continued to be interesting. I would have to walk uphill to the bathroom. (Of course the original house would not have had one of these, but Mr and Mrs Hope had converted a bedroom for this purpose.) I then had to walk downhill to the bedroom.

There was a double bed that I shared with my sister, surrounded by a sea of dark floorboards . The undulations of the floor were very apparent to anyone walking around the room. I remember waking up the first morning I was there and walking to the window. I was so delighted to be there. There was still a large bowl and jug for washing on the table under the window.

Downstairs in the stone flagged kitchen we sat at the large wooden table ready for our bowl of cornflakes. Auntie Ruth poured frothy milk in my bowl from a jug. IT WAS WARM! Ugh. I realised that it had come straight from a cow. Now, I would really appreciate that, as the adult that I am, but it seemed so gross to me at eight.

My next encounter with raw milk was when I was an adult. A young married woman just moved into my second home. I had read that calves fed on pasteurised milk died because the pasteurisation killed all the life-giving bacteria. In those days milkmen delivering the daily milk to the doorstep were still a common sight.

Our local milkman was really special. She was a woman. But that was not the wonderful part. She drove a horse and cart from the local farm! (Now, I'm not old enough that this was a common sight at all!) She said that this was a better way of delivering milk because the horse knew her route and as she was walking up one path and nipping through the garden to the next one, the horse was walking along the road to meet her.

This milk came from one farm and so they were allowed to sell unpasteurised milk. It came in glass bottles as did all the milk delivered then, and had a green foil top. It was lovely milk, but of course, being alive, it didn't have the same shelf life as the milk that had been killed bypasteurisation.

I would love to be able to buy raw milk now, especially raw cream, but have not found any near where I live.

If you don't know much about this subject or think that unpasteurised milk is bad for humans, then take a look at this short video. It is really enlightening. I learned something even though I already knew quite a bit about it. You might think that most cows spend their days in a field but that is not the case. Many cows spend their days inside large sheds eating 'feed' not grass.