Thursday, December 11, 2008

La Vie Simple

I am forty six years old. I thought that I had already learned all the lessons of life.  Today I realized that I am mistaken.  
This week has been a difficult one here at the dairy.  The challenges revolve around Dinah, the head cow here at Kurtwood Farms. The cow that started this farm; a lovely cow.  She tested positive for Q fever two months ago during the annual testing of the herd.  (For details on Q fever you will need to go to past blog postings.)
I was most frustrated when I got the results back from my veterinarian.  Mistakenly, I called the King County Vet and the State of Washington vet's office to speak of my frustrations and in the hope of gaining some insight into the State's policy.  During those two phone calls I yelled, I screamed and I used that familiar expletive 'fuck' repeatedly.  I truly thought that word was part of our collective language at this point, but sadly, it is not. The worst part was when I said that I would truck this cow down to Olympia myself, chain her to the steps of the Department of Agriculture building and slit her thought there, letting her bleed all over the steps so that the head of food safety could see it.  Both government bureaucrats were not happy with me, gave me little information and were in no way understanding.  Their primary mantra was that it was not their policy, that did not know whose policy it was and they had no explanation for the policy.  Oh, and they knew nothing about the policy as well. 
I thought that all was okay after hanging up the phone with both vets.  I now know that I was mistaken.
On Tuesday this week I got a call from my Washington State Department of Agriculture inspector.  A sweet man, a foot soldier in the government's war on raw milk, he had a warning for me.  If I did not back off on the Q fever issue, the State would come down on me and would never let up. He repeated this more than once, eluding to a potential campaign of tremendous fortitude and non-ending scope.  The State prosecutors office would be involved he warned.
Although the cow in question is dry -- not producing milk-- and has been dry for the past two years they evidently still worry about Q fever getting into the milk supply.  The cow may be contagious to the other cows here, but the inspector and the two vets had no idea if that was true or not.  
The inspector said that I could slaughter the cow myself and that freezing might possible control any Q fever in the meat.  When I let him know that I would send it to auction he was content with that.  By sending the cow to auction, the result is that the meat will enter the food supply.   That is okay.  People are supposed to cook their meat.
The end result is that Dinah was put on a large stock truck at three o'clock this afternoon headed for the Chehalis livestock auction.  I expect to be paid twenty cents per pound for this lovely animal that I paid two thousand dollars for four years ago.  With luck, the trucking will cost less than the amount realized from the sale. My local vet was there at the farm this afternoon to check her ear tag with the test results and verify that the animal has been removed.
I could be terribly naive and find out that it wasn't the phone calls that elicited this response, but these blog postings.  If I end up in the State Penitentiary for writing this, the story will be even more tragic.


  1. Oh Kurt! I'm soo soo sorry to read this. My heart goes out to you.

    And F the state. Sorry it ended up like this.

  2. sad but smart move, the collateral damage to a high publicity fight would be to lose all that you have gained. best to put this behind you, and get back on a positive track.

    this sort of crap kill me. i have had dust ups with large companies/monopolies who soul purpose is to lever money out of you, with no regard to right or wrong. sometimes you have to move on and put it out of mind. not all fights can be won. - emrick

  3. Kurt, I am so, so sorry about Dinah. We are down in Oregon and have a Jersey for our family milk, and she is beloved. They really do become members of the family. Again, I'm so sorry.

    Keep your head up and keep fighting! Raw milk is the perfect food and common sense will prevail.


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