Maybe the Covid-induced food shortages we’re seeing on the news have affected you, or maybe you just don’t like spending your hard-earned money on food that doesn’t nourish health, but feeding yourself independently of the industrial sector is sounding pretty good — maybe it’s even sounding urgent.  But why this emphasis on the dairy cow (/sheep/goat)?   Maybe grass management is the key to sunlight harvest, but the guy down the street has a steer on his back lot turning his grass and weeds into barbeque — why isn’t that good enough?

milking10We’ll start with just two reasons.

Reproduction is one.  Any animal you eat, whether it’s a castrated male or any other sex or unsex, cannot, once you’ve eaten it, go on feeding you.  It can’t even have babies that will feed you in their turn.  Grazing a steer is fine as long as you can get a steer, but if there are to go on being steers, someone has to graze reproductive females.

The bigger reason, however, is that a lactating (‘milk-producing’) animal is your full-time partner in the ten (or fifteen, or five hundred) most important things you’re trying to do to achieve local food independence.  First, she’s harvesting your native perennial ground covers and turning them into proteins, fats and sugars.  At the same time, she’s fertilizing her own food source, renewing it’s growth cycles, irrigating, and planting seeds.  She’s also producing the next generation of grazing/renewing/fertilizing ruminant partners.

And in the next installment we’ll take a look at all the incredible qualities of that most misunderstood and underrated of food sources:  MILK.