|Posted by ny2no on July 22, 2010 at 11:08 PM|
Around noon on July 12th, 2010, several organizers on the Food Justice Summer 2010 met with a dairy farmer in Hammond by the name of Jay Ernst. Although I’m not an ordained organizer I was privileged enough to comfortably tag along. Jay informed us that he was a traditional “country boy” and began detailing his life as a dairy farmer and as well as his political views. We absorbed every word of his lecture on pasteurization, welfare, and universal education. He provided copies of “The Fifteen Things That Pasteurization Kills” by Mark MacAfee in which Jay Ernst validated his philosophies on the raw milk revolution. We harvested 12-inch Italian Long Beans and although I was reluctant to wholly integrate myself in the farming experience, the beans were delicious. Subsequently we were given two gallons of raw milk to enjoy at our own discretion. Jay Ernst invited us to shovel cow manure in solidarity with him at 3 PM. Arriving on time, myself and an organizer returned to Jay’s dairy farm anticipating grueling farm work. The odor from the cow manure was rancid, but I was mentally fortified to challenge my environmental discomfort. Being a southern gentleman, Jay offered me his other available pair of farmers’ boots, and I accepted. We walked over to the cow manure collection center, and lo and behold, mounds of dung were patiently waiting. As a result of our wild shoveling, iotas of manure were all over our bodies, clothing, and hair. In between hauling, Jay talked to us about dairy farmers, and the sometimes non-chalant attitude that plagues most dairy farmers today.
We spoke about Monsanto, genetically modified seeds, and sustainable development and independence. We recognized that food education and accessibility empowers young people like myself. I told him that the likelihood of this (shoveling manure) occurring in New York was close to zero. Then we loaded buckets of water and carried them to the calves’ living space. On the way to their shed I clumsily spilled an entire bucket of water over myself. Unabashedly, I continued on; the calves were very responsive to our caresses, as I saw their colors the group’s previous discussions of racism jumped in my thoughts. One was ebony, the other mocha, and the other was caramel. “At least they’re integrated,” I thought. After this Jay instructed us to densely pack four buckets of hay, and then fill three buckets with feed, with the feed going on top of the hay. I wasn’t aware of how hay was engineered, or naturally occurred. Jay told us that it was simply dried grass and I felt uneducated. Not in that moment, but sometime during that day Jay urged us not to become “stupid smart people”, especially with my desire to pursue law. When you separate hay after it’s been rolled, it tends to release hay powder that hinders your visibility, which soon happened to me. I sat on the buckets to maximize the capacity and Jay commented that he’d never thought of sitting on the buckets as an effective method of densely packing the hay. By the cow’s positive response we received after dumping the hay in the cows’ feeding bin it was blatant that the feeding had been highly anticipated. Since I was wearing farmer Ernst’s boots I had the grand privilege of being in a mud & manure standing ground in order to use the hose to fill up the watering bins. After completing the task an organizer arrived to ‘collect’ us just as Jay announced that it was time to milk the cows! I invited myself to this rare opportunity, and it was truly gratifying. Jay called it his Titty bar “because” he says, “I’ve got my girls, a cold one and music,” which he did. First we hosed down the area where the udders and teats are located and Jay told us that the cows are stimulated by the hose pressure which compels them to produce more milk which is produced via their mammary veins. I laughed hysterically and it’s probable that my laughter roused the cow that I was hosing to stomp cow manure straight into my right eye. The laughter was contagious and soon the two organizers, Jay, and the observing customers erupted into laughter. Jay taught us how to milk the cow by hand, as we tilted the teats (udders) towards us out squirted raw milk onto our clothes and skin. Sincerely appreciative for the experience we departed and both parties were mutually contented. -Group 2 Participant (Kimberly White)
Categories: Food Justice Summer 2010