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Got RAW Milk? Abilene Does!

Abilene now has a raw milk drop thanks to a couple of our Abilene Freedom League’s board directors! Taylor County Weston A Price’s Co-Chapter Leader Jennifer Bell is also a Board Director and Treasurer of Abilene Freedom League. As a long time consumer and advocate for raw milk, she has helped organize raw milk runs/pickups in the past, but due to lack of quality milk in the Big Country these efforts were not sustainable. Many raw milk drinkers have been traveling up to 4 hours one way to purchase raw milk. Kay Kay Lineweaver, Board Director and Secretary of Abilene Freedom League, was fed up with the lack of access to quality raw milk in the Big Country, so she took matters into her own hands!

Kay Kay began to reach out to dairies that she knew of in hopes that someone would be interested in meeting halfway for a raw milk drop. Her efforts seemed to fall short and just about the time she was considering giving up, she saw that Armagh Creamery, a dairy Kay Kay had discovered at the Waco's Farmers Market, was entertaining the possibility of a Lubbock milk drop. She immediately called Armagh Creamery and Katie McDowell answered. Katie didn’t need much convincing being that Abilene is on the way to Lubbock from their Dublin dairy and creamery. Katie gave us 48 hours to get 50 gallons of milk pre-ordered to be sure there was enough interest to establish a drop. Within those 48 hours, 75 gallons were ordered and we were well on our way to our first drop!

Ryan, Katie, Kay Kay, baby Nova, Jennifer, & Ashley at Abilene's first drop.

Our first drop from Armagh (aka Katie and Ryan) was on January 13, 2023, at a downtown office building. We knew this location wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand, and we were right. Our second drop was 95 gallons! Plus yogurt and cheese which Armagh crafts on site in Dublin. We have travelers from Anson, Cross Plains, Clyde, and many other small towns around Abilene. The Big County has spoken - WE WANT RAW MILK!

Perhaps raw milk is new to you, and you are a bit perplexed as to why our board members have made this a priority. For many raw milk drinkers, their reasons go far beyond taste. Raw milk is a living nutrient-rich medicinal food that is thriving with healthy probiotics, vitamin D, and immunoglobulins (antibodies) that support the immune system. When compared to conventional pasteurized milk, raw milk is much more nutrient dense. Raw milk from pasture-raised cows tends to have higher levels of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K and other nutrients such as manganese, copper, iron, and B12. Beneficial enzymes found in raw milk are deactivated during pasteurization. Pasteurization also significantly decreases the milk's vitamin C content and decreases the bioactivity of B vitamins. Cows fed fresh green forage have been shown to have higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) , an essential fatty acid in their milk. There is also evidence that raw milk is tolerable to those with dairy protein intolerances. This has been the case for Kay Kay, who was dairy free for four years.

Kay Kay experienced severe ear infections that were triggered by conventional dairy consumption. She thought she would never be able to consume dairy again. Then, she was faced with a difficult decision when she lost her breastmilk supply with her first child. Not only did she feel uncomfortable with giving highly processed formulas to her baby but there was a formula shortage after Abbott Labs had to recall thousands of formulas due to contamination concerns. So, Kay Kay opted to use donor breast milk as much as possible but ultimately had to begin making her own formula using the Weston A Price Foundation’s recipe, which contains raw milk. Being a nutritionist, Kay Kay understands the health benefits of raw milk and was determined to give her child the best nutrition she could. Her child was flourishing on the raw milk formula and her husband, Board Director of Public Relations, Tyler Lineweaver, couldn’t drink enough! Eventually, after years of being 100% dairy free, Kay Kay introduced raw milk into her diet too… without issue! It was this journey that lit a fire in Kay Kay to bring raw milk to those in the Big Country.

Despite the demand, quality raw milk is scarce in the Big Country. A big reason is the legal overreach and misinformation coming from the federal government. In 1987, the Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of raw milk across state lines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics all advise against drinking raw milk, claiming it to be a major health concern. A quick Google search will tell you that 260 people die annually from Listeriosis, the FDA lists raw milk and products made from raw milk, such as cheese, yogurt, and ice cream, as the main culprit of Listeriosis outbreaks. However, a deeper look into peer reviewed studies show that between 1998-2018 only two deaths could be attributed to raw milk. Those deaths were associated with the bacteria Campylobacter, which is a result of poor sanitation methods at a dairy, and cross contamination with raw or undercooked poultry. Raw milk is not the bacteria-spreadingscary, bacteria spreading monster the Federal Government makes it out to be! Fortunately for Texans, we have national organizations like Weston A Price Foundation, state level organizations such as Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, champion legislators such as Susan King, even local organizations such as Abilene Freedom League, and local chapters of Weston A Price Foundation who continue to prioritize farm freedom and citizen choice! In early 2020, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance made a huge push that resulted in BIG changes. Raw milk and many raw milk products became legal to sell “off farm”, meaning that customers could place an order and have their raw milk and raw milk products delivered. This was huge for Abilenians!! Our raw milk options were not plentiful and many dairies had strict maximum limits which made traveling to purchase milk unfeasible. Furthermore, dairies are no longer required to keep a list of customers who purchase their products. A huge win for farm and citizen freedom!

Due to these recent legal changes, Armagh Creamery has been able to provide many Texans from Waco to Lubbock with the goodness that is raw milk. Abilene Freedom League and its directors wanted to know more about these good-heartedfolks and to share their story and their “why”. So, we asked Katie a few questions:

Who is Armagh?

“We're the McDowell family. Our dairy heritage in the US dates back almost 100 years and much longer in Ireland where we still have family members who farm in County Armagh Northern Ireland (thus the name!). Mike and Ryan are a father-son team here on the dairy in Dublin, Texas. Mike oversees herd management and dairy operations while Ryan does a little bit of everything but is primarily focused on the creamery side of things, making our cream-top yogurt and brie-style cheese in small batches as well as managing the milk to jug process with our raw milk. We started organic dairy practices on our original family farm near Bodega Bay, CA about 18 years ago. Mike relocated to Texas shortly after and Katie and Ryan took over the farm there. We moved to the farm here in Dublin in 2019, built an on-farm creamery and started making yogurt and cheese in 2020. We wanted to make our own product and have a direct connection to our customers. We also saw a need for quality, clean organic dairy products with only real-food ingredients. At the time, we were hard pressed to find yogurt without any additives, "natural flavors" or loads of sugar. We wanted to get back to traditional methods with pure, unadulterated cow's milk and real fruit, honey, maple syrup, etc. We started making our Doublin' Down brie-style for the love of cheese! We grew up on amazing artisan cheeses and wanted to try our hand at a soft-ripened cheese here in Texas. Last year, we became a licensed retail raw dairy and launched the Creamery Club subscription service. It's been so fun to get to know our customers directly through farmers markets and the Creamery Club!

Why did y’all choose to start selling raw milk?

We raised our family on raw milk and can attest to the many benefits of this whole, living food. We had countless people beg us to sell raw over the years. I (Katie) always wanted to be able to share raw milk with other families, but the risk was too great at the time and we didn't want to jeopardize our farm and livelihood. We are thrilled that the law is finally catching up and that we are able to legally deliver fresh raw milk to so many families as a licensed retail raw dairy! It's very full-circle for me and it brings me so much joy to hand over every gallon to our awesome customers.

What made y’all decide to start traveling to West Texas to make deliveries?

Not long after we started the Creamery Club deliveries locally, a sweet farmer approached me asking if we'd consider meeting the need in the Lubbock area for quality raw milk. She was retiring most of her small herd and feeling burdened for all of the West Texas families who were on waitlists for raw milk. Ask and you shall receive! We started the pre-order process to see just how many people were wanting raw milk in the area and we were blown away when our minimum gallon requirement was met within days. Once we announced we were going to Lubbock, the wonderful people of Abilene started petitioning us to stop along the way. Y'all hit the minimum in less than 48 hours and we knew we had to make it happen! The support and excitement of our customers makes it all worth it.

Can you briefly tell us about your land and herd management methods?

When we decided to start Armagh Creamery, we purchased a dairy here in Dublin with plenty of pasture and irrigated hay fields so we could produce our own coastal hay and haylage. We love being able to oversee the whole process from feed inputs, to herd management, to producing our products in our on-farm creamery about 100 yards from the milk parlor. We milk approximately 50 cows who are pasture-raised. In the winter months, when the native grasses go dormant, we supplement their feed with hay and haylage (fermented grass) from our coastal fields, some organic alfalfa and organic/non-gmo grain for energy. As a certified organic dairy, we do not treat the cows with antibiotics and our feed is always pesticide, herbicide and gmo free. We also utilize regenerative practices like fertilizing with our own composted manure and no-til drilling to seed our pastures and hay fields.

Since our farm was originally intended for a much larger herd, we have ample space so we also custom raise organic heifers for another organic dairy. If you ever visit, 90% of the animals you see are these cute heifers who stay with us until they are bred and closer to calving. We keep our small milking herd separate in their own pasture.

If people are interested, can they visit the creamery?

Yes! We love to give tours of the farm by appointment. Email to schedule your visit.

From the land to the cattle, Armagh Creamery goes above and beyond to supply Texas with clean nutrient dense milk and us raw milk drinkers couldn’t be happier to support them! If you are interested in purchasing milk or other goodies from Armagh, be sure to click here to subscribe to their Creamery Club! Milk drops are every other Friday with the next drop being February 10th. Be sure to CLICK HERE to get your order in before midnight on Sunday, February 5th!

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