“Go ask Alice” — controversial B.C. raw milk agister sheds some light on the Home on the Range / Our Cows story

Hella Delicious has the scoop:

Alice Jongerden. Photo via Hella D

“I had the opportunity to have dinner with Alice Jongerden, and she told me some of how she came to be our cow’s caretaker. She originally started with just one cow because she wanted fresh milk for her kids.

Unfortunately, that cow was dry and she didn’t get any milk. After a while she decided to sell the cow and get another one. This one gave too much milk. Soon she had milk coming out her ears and started sharing their cow with other people.

More people started coming and asking Alice to milk their cows for them as well, soon Alice had to ask another family to help out with caring for the member’s cows. After about a year they decided to find a location for all the cows to be together.

The area they moved to has a lot of mainstream dairies who felt threatened by the service Alice was providing. The cowshare Home on the Range was formed in 2007 and has grow from 3 to more than 20 cows in three years. The current waiting list is about 70 families, there is clearly a huge demand for unadulterated, quality milk in BC.

As mentioned above, when the cowshare started out the cows were kept in a couple different areas and the logistics of getting the milking done and the transportation and whatnot were quite complicated. During many difficult periods Alice and her husband only slept a few hours a night and barely had the chance to see each other.

The dairy has been through several difficult situations over the past few years. It is incredible to hear about the last tenant of the house that is now home to our farmer and Felicity, our cheerful young–I’m not sure what her title is–she joined our cowshare when Michael Schmidt took over after Alice had to step down as our agister. She has gone through Michael’s Cow College program and done an internship at Michael’s dairy in Ontario. She gave us a tour of the barn, last time we were out to see our cows, and had a good laugh when we asked her what her parents thought of the career she has chosen. She was incredibly cheerful in general–something I have noticed about most people who drink raw milk (myself not included–heh). By the way it is generally known that at least 80% of farmers drink their own milk raw, so this isn’t something to be shocked about.

Alice has currently filed a court challenge arguing the prohibition against unpasteurized milk in B.C. is a violation of her right to liberty and security of the person under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that the stiff criminal penalties are unjust. Violators can be jailed for three years and fined up to $3 million. –BC Local News

It was really great to be around so many animals again, there were several groups of calves of different ages including a couple so freshly born they were still wobbly on their legs. There also was a stall with a litter of the cutest black labrador puppies–they were so cute, we stayed for a while, getting licked and loved to pieces–before we tried to get out of the stall–one got loose and we had to chase him down. There were cats and kittens peeking out of every crack and down from every rafter–not a mouse to be seen. In another area was about 8 goats of different types, some with big floppy ears and others with very round bellies. And of course the cows, there seemed to be quite a variety, but I don’t know much about cows, so I couldn’t tell you what they were. I marked out about 5 square inches on one pretty cow and figured that was probably my share…. A couple of the cows still had their horns, which I quite liked. It doesn’t sound very pleasant to have your horns burned out–the Indian’s managed fine for millenium with cows that have horns, so it can’t be that difficult.

Donate to the Real Milk Legal Defence Fund.

We stayed for the milking and met the farmer. I thought he was from Holland, he seemed to be the image of a big healthy and capable Dutch dairyman, but it turns out he had grown up on a dairy out in Chilliwack–a member of a big Dutch family. He had previously worked in the industrial dairies and was really happy to be able to work in an environment where he would spend more time with the cows. (There is currently a court case in Washington state regarding the atrocious conditions industrial dairy workers have to deal with.) Felicity set about sanitizing all the equipment and rigging up the hose and filter for bottling the milk….”

Read it all on Hella D’s blog.

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