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Down the Road

Obtaining raw milk
By Milt Gross
Jun 8, 2014 - 12:30:02 AM

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We used to be given raw milk by our neighbors in Swanville, Tim and Gwendlyn (whose real names, Tom and Gladys, I am not using to protect their privacy and to protect me in case they read this wherever they now live) gave us raw milk. Right from their cow, which, I suppose is where most cow milk originates....from somebody's cow.

A farmer over in Oxford, Maine, used to sell us raw milk. Neighbors in Swanville gave us raw milk.

So we used to either be given or buy raw milk, which may or may not have been organic raw milk. There's a clear difference, you know, between raw milk and organic milk. But this being Saturday morning and my mind being a lot numb from having to get up and go to work all week, I don't recall the difference.

One thing is clear. I used the word "obtaining" up top, because, well it's either because being given and buying raw milk are different and the word "obtaining" covers that difference. Or I used it because....hey, it's Saturday morning and I forget why I used it. Anyhow I used it, and I'm not going back and erase it...even if I knew how to erase stuff on a computer.

I may have used "obtaining" to show you I can spell it.

One difference though between being given raw milk and buying it, is that I was teaching school when we were given it, and I was a reporter when we were buying it. Which may prove that reporters have more money to spend on raw milk than do teachers. No, that's not right. It may even be backwards.

But this topic came to mind today for two reasons: one I forget (the Saturday thing) and the other is that Moo Milk, Maine's organic milk, has gone out of business. Of course, their milk was organic, not raw. I understand some dairies have agreed to buy the organic milk from those former Moo Milk farmers.

One of those dairies I think is buying their milk is Stonyfield Farms, a New Hampshire company that specializes in organic milk. I think their buying milk from these turned-loose-upon-the-dairy-industry Moo Milk farmers fits right in, because we used to buy Stonyfield Farms milk before Moo Milk came along and we gave it a try.

The top of the Moo Milk carton that drove Dolores to frustration and me to religious language, because the milk would spill onto the counter. Note: for this photo, Dolores would not allow me to show you how it spills onto the counter. Milt Gross photo.

One reason I understand Moo Milk has gone out of business is because of those lousy milk cartons they used. Every time we opened one, that organic milk slopped all over the counter. Which made us decide to go back to Stonyfield Farms, until we actually got to the supermarket and forgot our decision. We used some religious language over those cartons, but I doubt that our religious language had anything to do with their quitting the business. Another reason I understand for Moo Milk's demise is that they weren't able to buy something...a building? a plant of some kind? But they weren't able to anyway.

But way back when I was teaching, which was shortly after milk was invented, our good neighbors gave us raw milk from their single Holstein. We would send the kids walking the half mile to their house to get gallon bottles of that milk. And, if they didn't trip and fall on their way home, we got to enjoy that great raw milk.

Until they moved. And until we moved.

Later, when we were living in South Paris and I was a mediocre reporter for a mediocre weekly and then for a daily newspaper that was much nicer to me, we bought raw milk from a farmer and his wife in Oxford, which, if you're geographically impaired, is really close to South Paris. We would drive there, buy the milk, and bring that filled gallon bottle home with us.

Except for the day we arrived there, and one of their Holsteins (I've got a good memory for breeds unless I'm making that part up as I tippy tap along) was getting ready to have a calf.

Since I was standing around doing nothing but watching the cow suffer, the farmer asked me to pull the calf out. That was my first and last calf pull. I don't know if Mama Holstein appreciated my help, but my hands got kind of...well, yucky. Which reminds me that cows of all kinds of milk become yucky when they calf. So, if you buy organic milk to avoid yuckiness, that's a a poor reason, as organically fed milk cows get yucky too.

Some Maine state board fears raw milk is hazardous to your health if it comes from a small farmer to your bottle. That's nonsense. I drank raw milk for a fair number of years, and it's never affected me except for my ability to write stuff that makes sense.

But we do miss going to the cow herself and returning home with those gallon jars filled with her milk. Why gallon jars?

I think cows give only gallons of milk, not quarts or pints.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2014

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