…and Prim lived to tell about it…
“The adventure started last Wednesday when Ben, Carly, Noah, Gilliam, and Hannah loaded up their belongings, along with myself and even a few chickens, into the cattle trailer and we all headed to Floyd Fest. Every year they’ve talked about going, and then July rolls around and there’s NO way they could leave me and the farm and go. Well, this year they just decided to take me with ’em. They sweet-talked me about it leading up to the day, so I was as prepared as I could be. So, two hours on the Crooked Road later, we arrive at our site in the Global Village as part of Backyard Revolution and Ben unloads me: Primrose. I drew attention immediately (why wouldn’t I?) – I mean it was like some people had never seen a cow before!! I made myself at home munching on grass and weeds…and even laid down in the shade before nightfall. Luckily, we had arrived in time to acclimate myself to the area and small doses of people before the general public was to arrive on Thursday/Friday, so they had time to set up and get situated before the real festivities began. They were still a little nervous about me during the night with people walking by and wanting to say hello, so Ben ended up sleeping beside me that first night. He’s so good to me….
Thursday started with an informal milking demonstration with an audience of around 5, a walk up the hill to stretch my legs, and a little cud chewing in the temporary fence. Because I was still being milked, and now milking twice a day because my calf, Dukes, was at home, they had a lot of milk (about 3-4 gallons a day)! So, they gave away some of my raw milk samples to anyone that asked for it in a cup, in their coffee, or even just a sample sip. They know that it is illegal to sell my milk in the state of Virginia, and they are very strict about that on the farm, but it was their understanding that giving it away was not against the law. So, that’s what we did. I actually don’t see the big deal, but a law is a law I guess. The milk was strained on site, put into clean jars, and kept on ice in a cooler. If someone asked for some, they didn’t hesitate to spread my gift.
My formal performance schedule didn’t start until Friday morning, so they had a little time to finish getting set up and prepared for the weekend. That sense of calm came to a halt at about 1 am with the first bass drop of DJ Excessive and Thunderdrums at the Global Village Stage right down the hill from us. I think it literally shot Hannah out of her tent because she immediately came out to check on me, and hung out with me until Ben came back from enjoying some music – his presence seems to immediately calm me. Thunderdrums continued and we all attempted to get some sleep, while Ben remained out with me sleeping on the hay-bales. I believe this was the night when we overheard 2 guys as they were walking by say, “Duuude! Is that a reeeaaal cow, or is that, like, a faaaake cow??” And so it began….
Ben came and got me for our first milking demonstration around 10am Friday morning, and folks started to gather a little before that to say hi to me, talk to Ben, get a milk sample, or just make sure they had a front row spot. They wanted to see what this whole milking business was all about. At least 1-2 people per group would tell us how they grew up on raw milk, had a milk cow as a child, or were currently a part of a cow share in their area. So, there was definitely some common bonds within the folks that came down for the demo. Ben was in the middle of milking and verbally going through each step of the process with an explanation, when Hannah heard over her shoulder, “Department of Health just pulled up.” Her first reaction was, “Nuh-uh,” but lo and behold, there sat the white truck and there stood the man with the silver clipboard asking to speak with who was “in charge.” Well, the man “in charge” had his head tucked under me in front of 50+ people pulling on my teats, so shetold him he would have to wait and was there something she could help him with. He replies, “Under no circumstances are you all allowed to pass out raw milk…it is against the law…unless it is pasteurized…shut it down…” Blah, blah, blah. He said that a festival go-er who worked for the North Carolina Dept. of Health saw what we were doing, called the Commissioner, who called the Virginia Dept. of Health, who then sent orders to this man to come tell us to shut it down…in the middle of a music festival. Then he asked for Ben’s name, and as he’s writing I heard someone in the crowd speak up to say, “What is this bullcrap!?” We all knew then that this couldn’t have been timed more perfectly – we had a public demonstration of a real cow milking, a public display of supplies needed to raise/milk a dairy cow like myself, resources on the table, and 50+ people who voluntarily took time out of their day to come down and show support, become educated on farm life and/or dairy cows, or maybe even recall a memory of their childhood that had been tucked away. The crowd was stirred and the energy was obvious. I even saw a couple of fists in the air when Ben finishing up the milking demonstration and being very honest about how his emotions had just been stirred. The man was very nice about it, said he was just following orders to come down there, but it was still a pretty serious matter and one that we are so thankful happened when it did so that these people could see how raw milk is treated in the “corporate world,” and the absurdity of it all. It is nature’s gift to mankind…tested to be one of the healthiest, most nutrient-dense foods of all time…and treated like it is poison. How in the heck do they think that makes me feel? It’s what I do for a living!!
There are groups of government officials dressed in thousand-dollar suits sitting around tables in government buildings talking about the next farm they are going to bombard at 5am with FBI officials to shut down and ransack…all because they sell raw milk on a small scale to customers who seek to provide health to their families because they know the benefits. Ben is not one of these farmers, I provide raw milk for them to drink, they do not sell my milk, but none of us see any harm and understand that it is legal to “give away” to those wanting to try it. Why wouldn’t you want to try something so delicious?! I’ve even heard it referred to as similar to a Vanilla shake…melted a little of course. I sure hope some of those folks went back home and sought out some of my friends in a cow share in their area, so that they too could benefit from one of nature’s gifts.
- Friday morning’s crowd
- Even though passions were high and the smell of a small revolt was in the air, they didn’t let that stop them from having a good time and I sure didn’t let it bother me. Matter of fact, I tried to pump out even more milk for folks to ask for…we couldn’t get rid of it fast enough! I stood for Ben every morning and every night (as long as there were some alfalfa pellets provided I didn’t cause too much trouble…) while he milked me and shared the story of owning and taking care of a cow like myself. Heck, he even went through a nose to tail description about little ‘ole me, and made sure he mentioned the beef cows at home and their medicinal qualities as well. Yes, I said medicinal.
- I sure did enjoy my little outing last week, and hope its not the last of them. Music was great (Thunderdrums was a little rough on my butter ears, but I got over it), the weather was perfect, and I was provided with a wonderful spot next to the woods. Even the people were nice – I’d say 3 out of every 5 folks would say hi to me as they were walking up the hill. I enjoy going out and teaching folks about the benefits of my milk and how they too can enjoy what myself and the other dairy ladies have to provide. We do love our place in the yard.”
- *Backyard Revolution will air Saturday, July 31st at 9:55 am on WTJU 91.1 FM out of Charlottesville, VA. Tune in to hear Adrienne Young talk about Floyd Fest, BYR’s experience at Floyd Fest, and one of today’s hottest topic – Raw Milk – Should It Be Legalized?*
- Also, if you’re interested in finding out more information about raw milk and/or cow shares in your area, please check out www.realmilk.com…and please pass it along…*