Thursday, February 3, 2011

(This is a picture of me milking my Jersey cow in my barn clothes with all my little kitties surrounding me. Notice, no poo on the floor or on my shoes or spilled milk or messes of any kind. Yup, this is my future!)

I braved the cold to do my once a month grocery shopping at the one of the big box stores we have in the next town. Grocery shopping: it's a love/ hate relationship. I usually buy dairy products and a few snacks at Costco but not much else. Because of all the recent talk of the increase in food prices, I was going to the store to buy milk, cheese, butter and cream and to update my "price book". Years ago I discovered The Frugal Zealot: Amy Dacyzyn. She introduced me to the price book which I'm sure has saved me $1000's over the years. Essentially, it's a list of every item I usually buy and how much each costs at the different stores I frequent and I put all that information in a small spiral notebook. It takes a lot of time to establish but once in place it's easy to update. This way, I know I get the best value for my hard earned dollar (or in this case, my husband's hard earned-away-from-the-family dollar).

So armed with my price book, I descended upon the big box store...... and I left a little teary. Food has gone up. Way up. Most of the items I purchase have increased in price by at least 15%....some even more. I didn't even look at the out of season fruit and vegetables (IE: tomatoes, melons, berries) since we usually steer clear of those items anyway. But butter and cheese.....whew! Dairy products seemed to be especially hard hit with increases. Skim milk has gone from $1.99/ gallon to $2.20/ gallon. A .21 cent/ gallon doesn't seem too bad but when you go through milk like we do, it's a hard hit to the budget. Butter is up to almost $3.00/ pound. Cream went up to over $7/ quart so I left without cream. (It's a luxury anyway.) And these aren't even the more expensive organic dairy products.

Yikes! What's a family to do?

GET A COW, my heart screams, GET A COW!!!!!
But we are far away from that possibility. We do own land, now, and that's a good start. Plus, I have 4 wild, willing, milk-drinking, milking partners in the form of kids; that's good. But we don't have a barn, yet. My husband put his foot down and said no large animals that need to be over-wintered without a barn. He was raised on a farm so I'm going to defer to his judgement. Besides, I just can't see myself trying to milk a cow in a field with snow up to my eyeballs. And I don't want to stress out any of the animals in our care by not having winter quarters for them. It's just too cold. And I'm just too much of a weeny.
So maybe next year. In the mean time, I make phone calls to prospective milk cow sellers, and talk to every elder I can find that milked cows in their childhood and brain storm with girlfriends who also want cows.
It takes a village.

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