I am a true Wisconsin girl. I can’t fathom life without milk. Let’s get more specific: life without cream in my coffee, without ice cream or a milkshake on a hot summer day, cereal and milk in the morning, cheese on my food, or just for a snack, dessert without whipping cream… life would be very dull indeed. While exploring the possibility of moving to Karakol we tried to buy milk in the downtown area. We went from one store to the next looking for cartons of milk. Hmmm… this turned into a slight problem when we realized that cartons of milk are not in ready supply, let alone 20% cream (American interpretation: half-and-half). This was going to be a problem for our long term (or daily) sanity. Upon further investigation we realized that people generally buy fresh, raw milk off of a neighbor who has a cow and is willing to do business. Now we have an interesting proposition: can we switch to raw milk after being so spoiled by the “one flavor and one flavor only” perfectly pasteurized, tested and approved cow milk of America?
Well, there isn’t a question that the attempt had to be made in order to satisfy the above mentioned craving for milk. Life without milk is just… water and powdered creamer… I shudder to think. So, part of our prep work for getting started was simply this: I needed to figure out a way to get a steady supply of milk before we landed in Karakol for good. Therefore, my morning cup of coffee which is 60% milk and 40% coffee would be in place on arrival.
Through some friends we were introduced early on to a very sweet family that has a cow and was willing to sell us their milk. We would often arrive in the evening, and they would not have milked the cow yet, and so we would start the process of getting our milk by sitting down and having a cup of tea and some good conversation for about an hour. Then the process of milking started, followed by the straining and transferring to our container… and the transaction was complete. Then, when we realized this cow does not have enough regular milk for us (three families are dependent on the supply), we started to turn our attention to the milk ladies who yell “MalakOhhhh!” as they wander through the apartment complexes early every morning. Sometimes it is too early. I shoot out of bed at 7 AM knowing I don’t want to miss the milk lady, throw on some clothes and hastily grab a 5L jug to get a hold of the milk of the day. If we try to schedule regular delivery, that somehow always falls flat, so it is a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of transaction.
Nevertheless, we are figuring out a way to get the milk to the table each morning. The process of pasteurization is a whole other story, better kept for next week.