With the legalization of herd shares, raw milk can now be acquired directly from the farm as long as you are part owner of the herd. What does that mean?
The law says that as long as you are the independent or partial owner of a herd or lactating animal, you have the right to receive raw dairy products that have been produced by the animals you independently or partially own.
Basically, you can’t “buy” raw dairy products from the farm, but you can receive those products if you own all or part of the herd. What does that look like, and how are we compensated for those products if you can’t “buy” them from us?
We start by charging an initial (one-time) fee of $30 per share to “buy in” to the herd. This fee covers your starter bottling kit (we only use half gallon mason jars and white plastic lids) and your “share” of the herd production during that lactating cycle. One share provides your family with one gallon of milk per week, and access to any other dairy items that we produce on the farm.
At some point, the lactating cycle will end, allowing us to take a break, and maybe even take our kids to the beach or mountains for a few days. When the new cycle begins, existing owners will pay a one-time fee of $10 per share (equal to the price per gallon of milk) to buy into that lactating cycle.
Before going into the weekly details, a note about the “share” price: We have no interest in truly selling any portion of the herd to folks that want raw milk. But we word things this way to fit within the law - to show that you are part owner of the herd. However, Seven Seasons Farm will always maintain majority ownership of all lactating animals as well as all decision making on animal diet, length of lactating cycle, veterinary care and when to breed back cows for future lactating cycles. We anticipate that a cycle will be at least 9 months (maybe longer), but could be shorter depending on sickness and other things out of our control. There will be no refunds issued due to a shorter than expected lactating cycle.
Once you buy in to the herd, you are able to pick up one gallon of milk per week for every share you purchase. We charge a monthly per share fee to cover boarding expenses for the herd (which includes hay / feed costs, veterinary care, and labor associated with harvesting and bottling the milk). The monthly fee per share is $40. You pay this fee whether you need / want milk or not. Remember, you are not buying the milk, you are paying for your portion of the animals’ care. But, to simplify all this - you are paying $10 per gallon for milk, and you pay that on a monthly basis.
Having bought into the herd, you now have access to mozzarella cheese, butter, sour cream, buttermilk (cultured and sweet), whey and other dairy products made on the farm. We charge a labor fee to provide these products.
Let’s look at a couple of examples of how this all works:
Example 1: You buy in to the herd for one share. You pay $30 for your initial first year fee. This guarantees you one gallon per week. You then pay $40 monthly (due on the first day each month when you pick up your milk). If you only get 3 gallons that month because you were out of town, didn’t need milk, etc. - you still pay $40 each month through the end of the lactating cycle.
At the beginning of the next lactating cycle, you buy in for one share again. Your buy in fee this time is only $10. You then pay $40 monthly through the end of the lactating cycle.
Example 2: You buy in to the herd for two shares. You pay $60 for your initial first year fee. This guarantees you two gallons per week. You then pay $80 monthly, regardless of how much milk you take home each week, through the end of the lactating cycle.
At the beginning of the next lactating cycle, you would like to get three gallons per week. Your buy in fee this time would be $50. That’s $20 for the two shares from the previous lactating cycle, plus $30 for the new share, which requires the bottling starter kit. You would then pay $120 monthly through the end of the lactating cycle.
In the event that your pickup day occurs 5 times in a given month, you will have the option to pick up milk on week 5, or you can skip that week. If you choose to pick up milk that week, you would add an additional week to your payment when you pay at the beginning of the month. If you choose to skip that week, your payment would remain the same, and you would not get milk that week.
Doing things this way means that herd ownership will remain fluid. Some folks may stay year after year, and some may not. But rather than having to maintain a list for perpetuity, this gives a list of “owners” for the current lactating cycle, and allows us to stay within the parameters of the law. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.