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Cow Shares: a legal way to obtain raw milk

Anna Aughenbaugh
Fort Collins, Colo.

Our visit to Richard Alexander’s R&R Dairy near LaPorte, Colo., was an eye-opener about the health benefits of drinking raw milk and the people who have researched it. Richard bought the Grin & Barrett farm and dairy herd from Lola Barrett, and is so excited about providing healthy food and the economics of doing that, it was difficult to take legible notes during his rapid-fire presentation of information.

Richard plans to add another cow to his small herd in order to provide more shares for customers, he enthusiastically told David Lynch, who has been in this business since 1995 at Guidestone Farm near Masonville, Colo.

“David sculpted a law to allow farmers to sell cow shares,” said Richard. “He lobbied and the legislators listened.” Cow shares are legislated as a state by state issue. Colorado consumers sent 10,000 letters telling their congressmen that they needed a right to choose. In May 2005, after two years of working on getting the bill passed, only five legislators voted against the bill.

Dairymen in Colorado must register with the state to sell cow shares. The bill does not allow delivery of product, but share holders can elect a member to act as their delivery agent for their area. The farmers have formed the Raw Milk Association of Colorado, and the Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union.

An advisor from Colorado State University helped adopt standards and testing for the program. Testing is taken far beyond the American Dairy Association standards by testing for e.coli and salmonella. Share holders and dairymen sign a contract to limit liability.

People who buy shares in cows are paying the dairyman to board, feed and to milk their cow. The cow share program protects the farmer from liability because the customers are drinking milk from their own cow. Share holders must provide their own glass jars for the milk.

Larimer County has a task force to find ways to benefit rural economic development. Cow shares are one way that can help people live on small farms, develop their own economic base, and follow their ideals.

Richard enjoys everything about his life.

“It’s not unique; it is how farming used to be, not confining our cows or using chemicals. We keep the money in the community,” he explained. “The consumer deserves a choice and it is a blessing to be a part of this.”

He subscribes to the principles of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Dr. Price was a dentist who studied and wrote about the good nutrition of “real milk.” Dr. Price advocated humane, pasture based dairying, small-scale traditional processing and direct farm-to-consumer sales.

Hippocrates said, “Food shall be your medicine.” If we provide our bodies with good food, they will tell us what they need, and eating nutritiously is a lot more fun and probably less expensive than taking prescriptions.

Richard has also learned a lot about the benefits of raw milk from Sally Fallon, the author of the cookbook “Nourishing Traditions.” Sally helped found the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Raw milk is nutrient dense and helpful for asthmatics and people with allergies or those who are lactose intolerant. It has a short shelf life, so it must go quickly from the stainless steel milking machine to the glass jars, to the cooler, and on to the customer.

Lynch’s Guidestone Farm is a model of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in action. There are three management teams that keep it running smoothly. David not only has a cow share program, he sells eggs, raw honey, and shares in the produce, beef, buffalo, goats, lambs, chicken, turkeys, and ducks. Members can purchase bread and yogurt that are made in a wood fired brick oven. Working memberships are available and volunteers are welcome to work in the gardens. Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful farm environment.

David’s coolers are housed in the first straw bale building built in Larimer County. An attached greenhouse provides heat year round. The walls are covered with clay and ceramic tiles. The tiles above the counters have designs copied from children’s drawings, made after a tour of the farm. The outhouse is a solar powered composting unit.

Tours and classes are available in David’s “Farmhands Education Program.” Between April 1 and Nov. 1, six graduates out of 70 applicants from universities live on the farm in a yurt village to learn sustainable agriculture, local food needs and direct marketing.

This way of farming is growing. The Raw Milk Association of Colorado meets monthly. RMAC.org lists members and information. There are several members on the Western Slope and more dairies are planning to join.

To learn more contact Richard at (970) 530-2391; David at (970) 461-0272 ext. 4.; guidestonegardeners@earthlink.net or http://www.guidestonefarm.com.

For programs call (970) 461-0272 ext. 3, or e-mail farmhands1@yahoo.com.

Editor’s Note: By publishing this article the Fence Post doesn’t endorse the consumption of raw milk over pasteurized milk. We merely present the information in our readers’ best interests.


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