“Well, we’re in it now.”
— John Sheridan after seceding from Earth in Season 3 of Babylon 5
So, yesterday Camille and I drove up to Live Oak and finished paying off a pair of ADGA registered Nubian dairy goats (pictured above). We found them on Craigslist, went to see them last week and put a deposit on them. Over the weekend we spent most of our time prepping their home for them in the corner of the yard; building a milking stand and a tote that fit our truck, splitting the firewood stacked against the fence (so they can’t climb out), and clearing out the tools, shingles and other leftover building materials that had accumulated around the out-building. It was a lot of work, but in no way did I mind. In a way, we’ve been getting ready for this day for a long time, building up to the twice daily responsibility that is an in-milk goat by raising chickens for the past three years.
They are sequestered from our meat goats, who are all pregnant. Introducing new goats, no matter how many tests have been done on them to certify that they’re disease free, is always tricky. Separating them from your herd is just good business. Because our pasture is about half forest we wouldn’t want them out there with the meat goats as the underbrush would tear up their udders, so they had to have their own place anyways. We brought them home last night, fed them, introduced them to the dogs (from a distance) and didn’t expect much from them this morning in terms of production from the stress of the move to new surroundings.
Well, were we wrong. Both girls performed admirably, even though they aren’t crazy about the change in grain. This morning’s first attempt at milking (well, second after last night’s initial lesson from the woman we bought them from) went a whole lot better than I would have imagined, with each of these young does giving us about a quart each. Their production should increase over the next year. There wasn’t nearly as much comedy this morning as I was expecting and boy howdy am I glad Camille was here because there was no way I would have gotten them on our stand alone. Amazingly, they didn’t step in the milk buckets or hang themselves on the stand. All in all, we got a quart to drink, and a quart to freeze in case we have to bottle feed any kids coming in the next few weeks.
This all sounds great, right? It is, but at the same time it isn’t. As I was going around this morning, feeding and watering the chickens all I could think of was, for lack of a better term, The Nanny State, all puns are, of course, intended. We all know that there are a myriad of supposedly benign regulations in place to protect people from poor quality food. They, of course, do not do any such thing other than to provide a false sense of security about the safety of the food (E. Coli Scares anyone?) while at the same time raising the cost of production far beyond which the small producer could not possibly be profitable except for his own consumption. The net effect is that the small producer (regardless of industry) might as well leave the farm and get on the Rockefeller Wage Taxation Train because he’s barred from producing for his community or friends locally through the FDA, the IRS and whatever other Alphabet Agency the Gov’t can bring to bear.
If a man distributing silver coins to people willingly can be labeled a domestic terrorist or an Amish farmer have his dairy shut down for freely selling people milk from his farm then what can’t the government put you in jail for? If the current laws aren’t good enough, if there are loopholes that allow the evil of voluntary exchange to occur without the taxman getting his share (certainly not the Angel’s Share). then they’ll just pass even more onerous legislation to shut off paths of competition for Monsanto/ADM/etc. The whole situation makes me angry to no end.
I know that I could drop completely from the Wage-Train and honestly support my family raising goats and chickens by providing the local market with high-quality fresh food but to do so would require a capital investment beyond my capacity and an operation far larger than I want/am able to manage without either flaunting a criminal record or knuckling under and paying the government extortion racket their protection money, protecting me from them, of course. But, the reality of the situation is that I will have to go back to being a tax-producer, probably sooner rather than later.
It’s not like both the producers and consumers don’t know about the regulations. They do, and they ignore them. Go to a farmer’s market anywhere and you will see people selling raw goat milk labeled “Not for Human Consumption” for prices far higher than they can get Pasturized milk at the supermarket. Now, you tell me, but who feeds their dogs milk twice or three times as expensive as the milk they feed themselves?
It’s not only bizarre, it’s downright silly.
It’s good to know that some of the states are beginning to see the Federal regulations for what they are. Sedgewick, Maine, for example, has legislation that would preclude prosecution for food producers who have willingly contracted with their customers for food, nullifying Federal and State Law. In effect restoring caveat emptor and the assumption of risk, putting it back on the consumer to be responsible for their health. OMG, Federalism? In America? Say it ain’t so?!
At 6pm tonight I know I have to go back out and milk those two adorable nannies (Sunrise and JJ). I also know I have to collect eggs, water and feed the chickens and give my pregnant goats the once over. It is in my best interest to raise healthy and happy animals to the limit of my ability to do so without compromising them. It’s a difficult task but it’s worth it to ensure the quality of the food I feed myself, my wife and my daughter, Nanny-State be damned. And it is truly damnable.