Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Tough World of a Dairy

I had no idea having a small dairy would be so difficult.  Really.  No idea.  It seemed like it would be all goodness and fun.  Cows are lovely, beautiful and fresh milk is tasty and good.  Deal, I'm in.
I had no idea.
It has certainly been challenging for the past four years.  Getting the cows, learning to milk them.  Getting a state Grade A raw dairy license.  Keeping my license.  Today was the topper.
A few months ago the State of Washington required all the raw dairies in the State (about 22) to test all their cows for Q fever.  The pasteurized dairies are not required.  Ever heard of Q fever?  Nope, neither had I.  Ever had a long distant cousin come down with Q fever.  Nope, neither had I.
My veterinarian came out to do my annual TB testing of all the cows and check on Bruccellosis for all the cows and now do the new Q fever testing.  He called me a couple of hours ago to inform me that Dinah was positive for Q fever.  
Dinah is the first cow I got four years ago.  The best cow I have.  She is presently carrying a calf that is four months along that took me 2 years to conceive at great time, expense and effort.  She is bred to a Scottish Highland bull from the Island.  I have kept my dairy going waiting for her to calve in April.  I would be back with ample milk and my favorite cow would be back in the cycle of milking.  All would be good in the spring.  And now she is positive for Q fever.
What the hell is Q fever?  I looked it up on the Centers for Disease Control web site.  It is the most highly infectious diseases known to man, one single bacterium can infect a human.  Weird. It is primarily a disease that is transferred to humans by air. Persons primarily at risk are people who work in barn yards, slaughterhouses, tanneries, and veterinarians.  Hmmm.  Sounds bad but what does that have to do with raw milk?  I could find no cases of humans contracting Q fever from milk.  Not sure if anyone ever has.
I was raised to believe that government is good. They work for us, help us, protect us. We should always vote, pay taxes and support the government.  I am beginning to think my Mother was wrong.  Cows with Q fever can exist in dairies that pasteurize their milk.  Infected cows can be walking around those dangerous barnyards, their hides can be sent to tanneries, they can be slaughtered, veterinarians can work on them.  Cows in raw dairies must be destroyed.
I am required to destroy my favorite cow, my expensive valuable cow.  It is difficult for me to believe anything other than the State of Washington is trying to eliminate the licensed raw dairies of the State by adding more and more regulations.  They will not make raw milk illegal here, they will just make it impossible to do business in the State of Washington.
They are doing a good job of it.  I can only think that they are pressured by the large dairy lobby of the State.  Milk is one of the largest agricultural products here. They don't want to compromise that for the sake of a few small dairies such as mine.  
On a better note, I picked a large bowl of grapes a few days ago from vines that I planted probably ten years ago and did little or nothing with. I finally took the time to prune them last winter and they produced handsomely this past summer. They are lovely, sweet and full of flavor.  I am picking them off one by one and popping them in my mouth as I rant and rage.  I will not let the fine folks in Olympia ruin my evening


  1. That is enough to make anyone cry. I am really sorry.

  2. tough story. keep on keeping on. your blog is outstanding. thx for sharing.

  3. If you don't destroy her, will they know & come for her? If so, can you wait until the baby is born to take those measures, or is it assumed it will be infected, as well?

    Oh, damn them. Back when your mother was raising you, it probably was still true, and maybe it will be true again in the future. Fight the power! k8

  4. These huge energy and personnel dependant farms will disappear when we run out of oil. Not too soon for my taste, and the politicans that favor them as well. You have earned your "wings" "udders" ? as a great diary herdsman. Keep up the good work and keep your cow in the neighbors' back yard until all this passes...


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