The idea of a cow share was new to me until two weeks ago when Lucas and Danielle Martin, our friends from Barefoot Wholefoods, invited the kids and I to visit their lovely shared Jersey cow, Milly.
Milly has five families and lives on Lucas's parents place about 15 minutes out of Orange. At the moment - in the thick of winter - she produces about 10 litres of milk every day and each family takes it turns to milk her daily. Every last drop is kept for personal use, with the participating families using their quota to make homemade cheeses, butters and yogurst, as well, of course, as drinking the beautiful milk itself.
Danielle tells me all about their prized and shared family member as she brings Milly up to the small yard for milking. She cleans her hands (and Milly's teats) then rests her head on the cows' warm side and begins to milk; "It's like a morning meditation," she says as the milk begins to ping into the metal bucket.
Lucas comes over to chat as Danielle and Milly do their thing together; "committing yourself to a process that must be finished, cannot be rushed and requires mindful handling and observation of such a large animal is both stimulating and humbling," he says.
The Martins had been wanting to source their own raw milk for a while but with two kids and a business in town (the wonderful health food shop and Juice bar, Barefoot Wholefoods), they realised it would be tricky to get out here to milk Milly every day.
"Then we started chatting to one of our customers in the shop," Lucas says, "we mentioned we were interested in starting a dairy cow share and found we instantly had a confirmed partner. From there it took less than a fortnight and we had five families ready to go."
The group's members all share common motivations for being involved, and of course, have their own individual priorities and interests. For Lucas and Danielle, it's about finding ways to remove as much processing (and large industry) as possible from their food, controlling the ethical treatment of their livestock and maximizing the quality of the food they eat. But another shared motivation amongst the group is to provide their children with a clear understanding of where their food comes from.
The physical and financial management of Milly is equally shared by the five families and daily milkings are divided among the group by means of an online roster.
"Milly's calf will be raised for slaughter," Lucas continues, "though when that is has yet to be decided. This is as much for the sake of demonstrating to our children the realities behind eating meat as it is a way for us to know how the welfare of the animal that becomes our meal has been maintained."
Danielle's Jersey milk and clotted cream loafNote from me - I don't usually post recipes here without an image but we'd already consumed our beautiful Jersey milk by the time Lucas sent this recipe and I haven't had a chance to give it a go yet. That said, these guys are seriously good cooks and I know it's going to be beautiful so will be baking it this week and adding a picture after.
Note from Danielle - This is a slightly sweet loaf (almost like a brioche). It didn't last long in our house but it would be a great loaf for French Toast.
Sponge (another term for a pre-fermentation technique)
225ml Jersey milk
50mls clotted cream (I just scraped off the cream that formed on top of Milly's milk)
175gm bakers flour
1 tspn yeast
Bring milk and cream to boiling point and set aside until tepid. Top up with warm water if you need too to bring the liquid volume up to 275mls. Combine the yeast, and flour together in a large bowl, make a well in the center and stir through the milk and cream. Let sit for 2-4 hours or until the mixture froths and collapses in the middle.
1tbsp raw honey
200gm bakers flour
Add the honey to the sponge & beat well. Add the flour and salt and mix to form a sticky dough. Knead the dough by stretching to work the gluten then set it aside in a warm spot for 15 mins. Repeat the kneading. Set aside for another 15 mins. Knead again then cover and leave for another 30 minutes. Roll dough into rectangle, roll up tightly and place seam side down in tin. Cover and leave until increased in size by half.
Preheat oven to 220C. Add a tray of water to the bottom of the oven to create steam (this will give a fantastic crust). Bake for 20mins then reduce heat to 200C and bake for a further 20-25 mins.