I’ve been struggling and unhappy recently. I’ve been aggravated and stressed out, too. Why? Because of trying to sell milk from my goats!
I have some special problems here. For one thing, I live in a remote location far from an urban center, so the population base is very limited. Also, I have dairy goats—not cows—and I want to sell raw milk, not pasteurized. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know why, but basically it’s because I like goats and they’re easy to handle. Their milk is better for humans than cow’s milk, and raw milk is far healthier than pasteurized. I’m not going to quote the studies. They are easy enough to Google, if you’re interested in reading them.
Selling raw milk in the United States is a difficult proposition, in fact you can’t sell it at all in some states. I’m fortunate that the State of Oregon does allow the sale of raw milk under certain conditions. If you run a commercial dairy, then you’re covered by those regulations, but if you aren’t then you are forced to stay small: For goats, you can have no more than nine does in milk (and that’s EVER in milk, by the way); for cows, you can have no more than two milking cows; you cannot deliver your milk—people must drive to your farm to pick it up; and you cannot advertise (a lawsuit successfully challenged this statute a couple of years ago, so the State no longer prosecutes you for advertising). All that is pretty limiting, so obviously the push is for everyone to have Grade A dairies under State supervision. That’s pretty expensive and complicated to do! I can’t afford to do that, without getting a loan and buying much more property and several hundred head of goats, and frankly, I don’t want to run a commercial dairy. I have a friend who does, and it is not for me.
I hadn’t gone looking for milk customers. When Sam & I bought our goats, our idea was to have a few milkers for our own milk and to raise extra kids for meat. We could sell the extra milkers and doe kids as potential milkers, too. We did our homework, and the bloodlines we have are also successful in the show ring and do well on DHIA Test and Linear Appraisal, so selling goats has never been a problem. It’s the extra milk we produce that’s been the problem. When we retired, our primary aim was to engage in activities we enjoyed and to reduce problems and stress, so dealing with this extra milk was becoming a problem.
Normally, I don’t have any extra milk until all my kids are weaned. There is usually enough left over after feeding them for our house use, so it works out well. After weaning, though, there’s a ton of it. The past two years I’ve made cheese, and I probably have enough cheese squirrelled away to make it through the Apocalypse. Fortunately, I like making cheese and we like eating it, but there is a limit. We also are not allowed to sell any dairy products, other than milk, in Oregon, unless we jump through more legal hoops.
So when I got a couple of calls from local folks wanting to buy milk, I thought, “Terrific!” I had some sort of romantic idea that they would all become my friends, too. Ha! To make a long story short, it didn’t end up that way, and yesterday I had enough and decided they were all fired.
One would think, since I have a unique product that is supremely healthy for people that it would be appreciated. One would think, too, that since they had contacted me, not the other way around, that I might decide not to serve them if they made me very unhappy. At any rate, I am done with having a refrigerator full of milk because people can’t be bothered to show up to get it when they are supposed to, because in this day of having a phone in one’s pocket 24/7/365 it is too inconvenient to call and say you can’t come by, and because I’m tired of handing out milk jars right and left that I have paid for and never having them returned. One might think that they would realize that I’m doing them a service—and I DON’T HAVE TO?
My nephew is making a few calls for me, and I will be feeding my extra milk very soon to a couple of weaner pigs. There’s an added bonus in that they will also process garden debris and kitchen scraps. They will also never complain, and they will always be appreciative. When they are big enough, they will either be butchered for our own meat (yes, I make sausage and have a smoker), or they will go to the sale. Either way, it looks like a win-win for me, and I won’t have to be stressed-out any more.