Months ago, near the end of a particularly long afternoon in the book store with my two daughters, I ran across a shiny, green, soft-backed book that would steal my heart forever. Or at least for a few months. Carleen Madigan’s The Backyard Homestead has informative, diagram-enhanced chapters on everything from raising chickens to brewing your own beer. Tucked within are two chapters I am particularly fond of; milking your dairy goat and making cheese.
Living with life-long cow’s milk allergies has spurred an insatiable fascination with real, raw goat’s milk and all of it’s products in me. Having recently spent more days than not in Chicago, the very epicentre of blankets and blankets of billowy cheesy goodness, cheese is one of those products that is of considerable interest at current.
Unfortunately, I haven’t the time for a goat right now and in Michigan (along with the better part of the United States) it is illegal to purchase raw milk.
Luckily, all is not lost. What we can purchase legally are goat shares. In Michigan, and in states who uphold similar statutes against the purchase of raw milk, it is legal for people to drink raw milk from animals they personally own. Goat shares – the purchase of a portion of a dairy animal to become a co-owner of that animal, a shareholder – allow families like ours, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to obtain the raw milk they want, to legally acquire it.
And for those in states where even shares aren’t available, either legally or because of logistics, family owned and operated goat dairies offer handmade cheeses to fulfill every craving, even if not made raw. Pure Luck Goat Dairy in Texas is one such farm, and their cheeses are available for purchase online.
Sold on the idea? To get started finding the laws that apply to the purchase and consumption of raw milk in your area, check out RealMilk.com. Or google goat shares + your state abbreviation to skip straight to shopping for a source of raw milk near you. (Even in states where raw milk purchase is legal, goat shares are often available for those not wanting or needing their own dairy herd.) And if you have the time for a goat and cheese making or just want to covet them the way I do, find an independent book store near you to buy your own copy of The Backyard Homestead.