Sustainably Yours

Sustainably Yours

February 2024 vol. 2

For almost a year, we have been offering milk from our partners at Sowers Sustainable Farms. Since I believe in the free association of consenting adults, we were doing this outside the bounds of permissible regulations. I was comfortable with the risk since everyone was a long time customers. But as the diary is growing, and subsequently the customer base expanding, I think it is prudent to tighten up a bit, so we don’t get afoul of the “Department of Making Your Life a Living Hell”.

Thankfully, raw milk sales are legal in Texas. However, it must be purchased from a licensed dairy. Becoming a licensed raw milk dairy is a very expensive undertaking and would not make sense for a small herd of milking cows. Fortunately, Texas law allows you to consume raw milk from a cow you own. I realize most of you don’t have the time or desire to milk a cow (what would the neighbors think), but if you joined up with other like-minded folks you could own a share of the herd – a Herdshare.

A Herdshare allows farmers to legally distribute raw milk products to Shareholders. In essence, a Shareholder becomes a partial owner of the dairy herd. The Shareholder pays an up-front buy-in fee to help offset the investment required to obtain the dairy herd, and they pay a monthly maintenance fee to help feed, board, and milk the herd daily. In exchange, the Shareholder receives a share of the milk.

The Sowers are excited to give you the opportunity to join the herd. The buy-in cost is $75 per year, per share. The monthly maintenance fee is $35 per share. In exchange for your share, you will receive a half-gallon of raw milk every week. As a bonus, they will occasionally offer other raw milk products (e.g., butter, yogurt, cream), which will be available for an additional processing fee. If you want more milk, you can purchase multiple shares (two shares yields a full gallon).

Now you’re probably thinking to yourself that this is a lot of money for a half gallon of milk, but we’re not talking about just any milk. This is raw A2/A2 milk! If this means nothing to you, please read our previous newsletter introducing you to the herd and the benefits of raw milk.

Still sound like a lot of money? Let’s let Tricia Sowers tell us what it takes to get a small dairy herd up and running.

Tricia Sowers

We have invested $20K into our dairy herd – this accounts for the purchase price of one bull and four cows. We have high standards for the animals we purchase. The Jerseys we buy must: 

  1. come from disease-tested herds;
  2. have superior genetics;
  3. be predominantly pasture-raised;
  4. have no horns; and
  5. be A2A2.

These are the “unicorns” of dairy cattle.

By selecting for the best cows, we have a higher chance of producing superior off-spring and higher quality milk. This investment is not guaranteed. If you were following along with John and Molly’s newsletter last year, you know that we lost one of our dairy cows during birthing. Not only did we lose Elsie, but we lost her calf too.  Not only did we lose a member of the family (we spent several hours a day with her), but it cost $6500 to replace her – not to mention the loss in production.

Did you know that a cow is generally 3 years old before they can be relied upon as a diary cow? They cannot be bred until they reach at least 16 months of age, they have a 9-month gestation period, and are unreliable milk producers (typically) with their first pregnancy. So, it is only in year three – if they can be reliably bred – that you get a glimpse into the quality of their milk, their production volume, the milk fat percentage, etc. Heifers (young female cows) are typically cheaper to purchase, but the unknowns make this a bit more of a gamble.

The purchase of the herd is only the beginning. You, as a Shareholder, are also supporting low-impact, ecological farming. We are committed, as a farm, to regenerative agriculture and holistic management of our animals. We believe that the food you consume has a direct effect on your overall health and well-being.

To maximize the health of the herd and minimize synthetic inputs, we rotationally graze our animals – like John and Molly. We have created a pasture ecosystem, which includes cows, pigs and chickens. 

We move the integrated herd two to three times weekly, so they have the freshest grass available and are excluded from pathogens that can develop when over-grazing and stagnation occurs. The pigs and the chickens work to distribute the manure load produced by the herd and prevent pests from being ingested by the dairy cows. 

Most conventional farms use pharmaceutical products to maintain a disease-free herd, but we accomplish this through the rotational, integrated grazing. It takes us 3 to 5 hours each week to simply move the animals from paddock to paddock. 

Over the almost 5 years we’ve been farming we have seen the benefits of these efforts. Not only is our herd disease and parasite-free (they are tested annually), but our pastures are improving, without synthetic input. This translates to a more natural, more nutrient-dense raw milk product. 

All of these inputs are required before we even get the opportunity to milk the cows within the herd. Every morning and evening we bring Sunny and Sadie (the two girls currently in milk) to the milking trailer where we engage in our milking ritual. We start by giving the girls a small ration of organic grain to keep them in top condition and distracted. Next, we thoroughly clean their udders to ensure contaminant-free milk (this also stimulates let down naturally). We then hook them up to our milking machine and love on them as they express their liquid gold.

Two times a day we repeat this ritual. There is no “day off” when you own a dairy herd. If you forgo your responsibility, they can experience mastitis (bacterial infection in the udder) and other issues. This not only threatens their production, but it can result in death if not appropriately managed. We closely monitor their udder health, their production levels, and general appearance to give us early warning signs of potential issues. If anything does arise, we use homeopathic remedies to first try and manage the situation. We welcome you to come visit the farm and participate in this ritual.

After milking, the milk must be bottled and supplies must be sanitized and readied for reuse. We strain each batch of milk and bottle according to distribution needs. We quick chill the bottles to reduce degradation that can occur. This maximizes the nutrients and probiotics found in each bottle. Thankfully, John and Molly have partnered with us to facilitate distribution at local markets. They come to the farm multiple days a week to pick up the fresh milk and drop off the empties. On the backend, we wash and sterilize the empty bottles in preparation for the next batch.

There are number of additional inputs required to get a bottle of milk from udder to the Shareholder, but we hope this overview gives you a glimpse into the value contained within a single, half-gallon bottle of milk produced on our farm.

Ready to become a Shareholder? Visit their website: They’ve put together a nice FAQ with lots of information about A2A2 raw milk and how the Sowers turn grass into liquid gold.  The milk will start flowing the week of February 19th so get there quickly as there are a limited number of shares available.

See you at the market!

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Brand Name
Sowers Sustainable Farm Herdshare
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Raw Milk

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