The Milk Run

View North from Eagle Peak Rd.
High Summer in Vermont

A small group of families take turns driving to pick up raw milk for all of us from Jonathan Falby at Symphony Farm, an act that in many states is like smuggling whisky during prohibition. The logistics of this cooperative endeavor are unusually challenging, seeing that there are a number of really bright people involved in getting 9 empty half-gallon jars with lids to the appropriate shelf in the milk room on the appointed day, delivering payment, and dropping off the milk itself at each destination. I’ll admit, I am a third wheel in it all because I’m usually not into making the milk run, much preferring to never get into a car if I can avoid it. There is always some error in the process each week, a great conversation starter.

Given that at any time in Vermont, unless you are thoroughly well-resourced and organized, you might be driving a car in a sad state of repair with, say, no seat belts, no inspection, or the wrong tires for the season on. The roads in Vermont are not “as the crow flies” therefore, to get over a range of hills, you might have to go way around. Nonetheless, pretty much everywhere you turn your head in any season, stunning beauty abounds, while not everywhere around is “a signal”. And likely you will have this milk run time to yourself, to enjoy your coffee, or sometimes, to white-knuckle it down Eagle Peak Rd. in either a frozen blizzard or a muffler dragging mud bog.

Today, however, it is high summer, Heather is off at Shadow Lake, and I have to bring the milk bottles to the farm because on Thursday the cows will not stand and wait for the bottles to arrive. There’s a little humid stormy rainy air hanging, a light haze that is also fog forming. Our van, 305,000 miles, mostly sounds great, but the transmission makes a lot of bad sounds despite functioning fine, so its only a matter of time. Should I break down on Eagle Peak Road, it would mean a good long walk no matter how you slice it, so I generally keep a few things on hand like shoes, a pocket knife, some water, and “the phone”.

Jonathan is a really nice fellow, and is often found doing some job of work on his place, hosting guests in their yurt, rinsing milking equipment, stacking wood, etc. It is a lovely place nestled into the trees sloping down to the south west overlooking a sweet pond. The light-brown cows stand in a row in the trees talking.

I always feel a little strange walking in the driveway to Symphony Farm, which has a welcoming but private and secluded feel to it. So I park on the road out of respect for that feeling and walk in with the two bags of bottles. The hot fence ticks. Generally speaking I never encounter anyone, but sometimes the children, Jonathan, sometimes Meaghan. Bottles on the Thursday shelf and off we go.

The summertime is really the time for raw milk. If you know anything about it, well, it tastes subtly like grass. The drive is stunning, the air is good enough that the dog hangs her head out the whole way there and back. After 25 years here, getting raw milk from different places over that time, the milk run has never been sweeter than today. Thank goodness for rain, and all of the many intricate things that work together to get us there and back. The never ending analysis of one’s position in it all must occasionally and more frequently be paused, to spy the view looking north from Eagle Peak. And later, to make coffee for the sole purpose of having some cream.

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