Thursday, March 3, 2011

Milk, Meat and Wool

Bellwether Farm, a small family farm in Decker, Michigan, is becoming one of our favorite new finds. Last summer, they started coming to our downtown farm market offering individual lamb cuts, lamb shares and beautiful wool and wool products. This fall, they began offering raw milk shares.

My first purchase was a really nice naturally-colored skein of wool. I used this wool to make Adelaide a really nice wool diaper cover with this pattern. I finally finished it just last week. The knitting itself didn't take months to complete. I was just lacking motivation. Addie is quickly outgrowing her old wool covers, though, so I felt compelled to finish it.

Throughout the summer, we also purchased some wonderful cuts of lamb from the farm. The cuts are on the small side and a little pricey; but, they are delicious.

About three weeks ago, we signed up for a "cow share" from the farm. In exchange for a small one-time registration fee which constitutes our cow share purchase and weekly payments, we receive a weekly share of the farm's milk. The milk comes from one-hundred percent grass-fed guernsey cows. It is chemical and hormone free, non-pasteurized and non-homogenized. I will admit I was a little uneasy about the idea of unpasteurized milk; but, I have done some research and reading and feel pretty comfortable with the milk we are receiving. Guernsey milk has several unique components including beta carotene and a naturally better balance of omega three to omega six. Grass-fed dairy products are also supposed to lower heart attack risk. The milk is a beautiful golden color and tastes delicious. The kids guzzle it by the glassful and it makes wonderful homemade yogurt. Matt made sure the kids and I survived the first week before he started drinking it.

The milk is purchased as a "cow share" because it is illegal to buy unpasteurized milk in the state of Michigan. Instead, one purchases a share in the farm and then pays a weekly fee to the farmer to feed and care for the cows. It is all pretty simple and you never have to worry about actually taking ownership of a cow. You won't find a giant cow waiting on your front porch should you decide to terminate your contract! This is also the method we use to purchase our beef from another farm in Manchester.

The farm is very small and has no website or email address. Their contact information can be found through their Local Harvest listing. Even if the raw milk share isn't your thing, I really encourage you to check out their lamb products.

Last summer, the farmer, Andrew Mellish, told me that cloth diapering and wool covers were part of what led his family to sheep farming. I can almost picture poor Matt, a few years from now, down at the farm market selling our eggs and wool and goodness-knows what else!

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