“It’s a scorching summer morning, and David Crane is standing with arms stretched wide in the middle of a pasture.
He steps cautiously toward a stubborn cow, cajoling her to move out of the heat and into a shady patch a few hundred feet away.
“Come on, girl,” he says quietly, almost whispering. “It’s OK.”
The cow bucks suddenly, knocking the husky middle-aged farmer off-balance and onto the ground in a cloud of dust. Crane hops back up, pats the dirt from his blue jeans and moves in again, arms wide, toward the cow.
“She’s bigger,” Crane says, smiling. “But I’m right.”
The offhand comment might as well be tattooed across his chest.
This soft-spoken husband and father of nine has made a life out of standing up to authority in defense of his beliefs.
Two decades ago in Norfolk, Crane earned a reputation as one of the most ardent abortion protesters in Virginia. So wedded to principle, he once spent 45 days in jail after refusing to honor a judge’s order to stop picketing outside a clinic.
His name had long since faded from the headlines by the time he moved his family out to the Tidewater countryside in 1999 in search of a quieter lifestyle.
Quieter, yes. But, as it turns out, no less controversial.
When David Crane bought a milk cow a decade ago, he didn’t expect to start a business. And he wasn’t looking to pick a fight.
But that could be exactly what he gets.
Some 60 miles of rolling farmland and pine forest separate Elizabeth Minor’s suburban Richmond home from David Crane’s small family farm. A hundred Google queries and a common desire for fresh, natural milk helped close the divide.
Minor was a few months pregnant when she started her foray into the world of natural parenting. She became a regular on several progressive-minded mommy blogs and borrowed library books that extolled the merits of organic foods.
She started shopping at farmers markets and experimenting with meatless dinner recipes. She dumped all her household cleaning chemicals and replaced them with homemade solutions. She planted a garden and started a compost pile.
Without knowing it, she became part of a nationwide movement of “radical homemakers” – a growing number of hip, young parents who save money by canning foods from the garden, making yogurt from scratch and other old-timey skills.
“I was reading a lot about the value of living naturally and eating seasonally, and it just kind of snowballed from there,” said Minor, a 32-year-old stay-at-home mom. “I was trying to create a simpler lifestyle, and by the time my daughter was born two years ago, eating quality, natural food was really a priority.”
Soon Minor’s holistic awakening led her to seek an illicit white substance – unpasteurized, unhomogenized, untampered-with, creamy, natural, raw milk.
That led her, indirectly, to David Crane.
A bit of background: People have been drinking raw milk for a long time, at least since goats were domesticated 10,000 years ago. Raw cow’s milk – rich in protein and fat – became a staple of the early American diet….”