Weekly Posting of the Conservative Cow Doctor


Putting the Raw in Milk

I didn’t exactly grow up on a dairy farm, but because life in eastern Montana meant a quick trip to town for fresh milk took a half-day, my parents decided to purchase a milk cow. We northsiders lived off the land long before it was trendy. Dad found us a new milk cow named Swiss, at a small ranch in Wyoming, so all the family road-tripped it to the foot of the Big Horns, loaded the old girl in the back of our 1960 Willys, cabover pickup and headed home to Montana. It was a redneck family outing. Unfortunately, like a sheep born looking for a place to die, our temperamental Jeep broke down regularly and on this trip, the fuel line jiggled loose at the fuel pump. Noticing our fuel gauge was nearing empty, but unaware as to the cause, Dad filled up in Forsyth which gave us just enough gas to almost make it home.

North of Vananda, the pickup sputtered to a stop, so Dad to hoofed it the last five miles to the ranch. This left Mom, me, my two brothers and one tight-bagged milk cow waiting for his return. Mom was born and raised a city kid, so being stranded on the desolate, gumbo flats with three squirming boys and a bawling cow anxious to be milked were stimuli she had not yet been conditioned to enjoy. Had there been a blue-heeler and a couple chickens in the cab, the scene had the makings of a great country-western song. Many marriages in eastern Montana only survive their early years because town is too far of a walk for a lactating mother packing toddlers plus a loaded suitcase. Over time Mom learned to love the unique flavor of ranch life.

Although I was raised on it, I never really acquired a taste for raw milk because its flavor varied with whatever forage was hearty enough to poke through the alkali hardpan around the barnyard. Had Swiss been fed a controlled ration of corn and alfalfa rather than wild onion and wild parsnip she might have produced a more consistently palatable product. She wasn’t, so she didn’t, so my experience with raw milk is tainted and here is why I mentioned this.

House Bill 245, the raw milk bill, has been introduced into the Montana Legislature eliciting fireworks far more predictable than the taste of raw milk itself. Advocates for HB245 will swamp the capitol espousing the health benefits of unpasteurized milk in addition to claiming it is a freedom issue. Opponents, typically producers of Grade A pasteurized milk, will warn of raw milk’s potential public health risks. Their concern being an outbreak of undulant fever sweeping the headlines will equally taint both raw and Grade A milk rather than targeting the true problem; the free-roaming and Brucellosis infected bison of Yellowstone National Park. (I thought I’d provoke the illogical passions of leftist extremists since I am termed out and no longer have to sit through senseless and endless public hearings.) This brings me to my point.

I predict there will be more e-mails and phone calls delivered to legislators on raw milk alone than on the total of those concerning Obamacare’s crippling and costly Medicaid Expansion, Pre-K government indoctrination of our youngest children, and the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Water Compact confiscation of property rights. This is scary. If you spend all your efforts fighting either side of the raw milk bill you might be suffering battle-fatigue when the truly dangerous issues reach the legislative floor. Save your ammo for where it is critically needed.

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