I had a woman call today who has gotten milk from us once before. She wanted to put an order in for milk for next week.

Next came a few questions that were, ummm, odd.

She wondered what dishwasher detergent I used. So I told her, “Usually Kirkland Brand, but sometimes Cascade.”

She has chemical sensitivities and was wondering what we used. She didn’t ask if our animals were disease free, only what we used to clean the jars we put the milk in.

I apologized that she had problems with our milk. She said, “Oh, it was great! I didn’t have any problems with it!”

Huh?! Then why was she asking me about what dishwasher detergent I used, and why was she telling me she has chemical sensitivities?

I understand about sensitivities and allergies. But some ‘city folk’ don’t really know what they are asking when they ask if they can bring their own containers for me to fill with milk.

No, I don’t have room to store other people’s containers to fill with our milk. I don’t have enough room for the 40+ glass 1/2 gallon jars that we have, along with the 30+ plastic pitchers we have for when people have forgotten to return their glass jars. I don’t want to have to remember whose containers belong to whom and what day I need to fill them.

The chemical sensitivity issue was interesting. I told her that if she really was sensitive to chemicals (and if I was going to provide her with milk–which I’m not–a little too worrisome to take on someone like her) then she would have to bring me a milking pail, a cover for the milk pail, containers for the disinfectant we use, a weighing pitcher, and a bucket to cool the milk in. She would also have to clean everything before and after milking. I told her that she would have to bring me a sanitized cloth to strain the milk into because she probably didn’t want me to use the disposable milk filters that we buy. She didn’t realize all the things that the milk touches before it is put into the final containers that are in the refrigerator. City folk often don’t think about anything more than the end container.

So, for the city folk who might be reading this:

  • No, we don’t spray the pasture with pesticide. We don’t want dead animals.
  • No, we won’t feed our milk goats exclusively grass so you can have ‘grass-fed dairy products’. We aren’t interested in compromising the health of our animals. Would a human nursing mother expect to produce milk if all she ate was lettuce? We feed a nice alfalfa/grass blend for horses, meaning it is very clean, good hay.
  • Yes, we feed the dairy goats a grain ration when they are on the stand. (Purina 11% Grain Blend). Our animals have been on it since last year and are very healthy.
  • Yes, sometimes we give our goats antibiotics. We almost lost a doe to mastitis while we were trying some herbal remedy. I’m still surprised that the penicillin and neomycin sulfate brought her back from the brink of death. I consider it a huge blessing that she lived and went on to produce 1/2 gallon or more every milking. We throw away the milk after we use antibiotics for the prescribed amount of time.
  • Yes, we feed our chickens lay pellets in the winter–there is no grass or bugs for them to eat during the winter. Although our chickens and ducks are ‘free range’ and only in a cage at night (to protect them from predators) we think it is important to feed them during the winter.
  • No, I won’t use your containers.
  • No, I won’t change the dishwasher detergent I use. I think our dishwasher does a great job, especially with the extra sanitizing rinse cycle at the end.
  • We give our goats a vitamin hidden in a banana slice everyday. But the banana is not organically grown and we use Kirkland brand vitamins.
  • The milk goats also get a copper/selenium/cobalt supplement every day because dairy goats, especially Saanens, tend to become deficient in copper very quickly. Since we don’t want to compromise their health, we give them supplements.
  • We water them with culinary water, but not water that has gone through the reverse osmosis system. We go through 40-60 gallons of water a day for the animals. It would be a bit expensive to purify their water.

I understand people who have true problems with chemical sensitivities, but if she didn’t have any trouble with the goat milk before, why would she be asking me to change how we do everything just for her?

I have two allergies myself. But I don’t expect everyone around me to change how they cook.

I am personally grateful for the blessing of having chemicals that will disinfect does udders, clean milking stands and milking equipment, wash my hair, clean my floors, and paint my fences. I’m grateful for antibiotics that saved one daughter’s life and another daughter’s hearing. I’m thankful for chemicals that people call ‘supplements’ that help me maintain my health.

We are surrounded by chemicals. Some of them occur naturally, some are purified so that they are more concentrated and work better for their intended use. Back in the late 1970s there was a poster with a photo of a beautiful orange on it. It was surrounded by the list of chemicals that naturally occur in an orange. It changed the way I think about chemicals and chemistry.

I hope she can find someone who will feed and milk their goats to her specifications. Otherwise she might have to move to a place she can raise goats of her own. And raise all the feed and bedding they will need, too.

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