Spirit Quest

In a time of big business and big government
it is important that the voice of the common man/woman be heard

Michael Schmidt: Let that Spirit speak!

By The Reverend Doctor Hanns F. Skoutajan

The Reverend Doctor Hanns F. Skoutajan

I don't like milk, I never did, of course I mean cows' milk whether pasteurized or raw. I was raised on milk, my mother's milk that is, and she and I was were blessed with a goodly supply for many months, almost three years.

It has been shown that babies who are breast-fed are far healthier than those who receive it from other sources. It builds up an immune system that will protect us through much of life. Indeed, there was a time, not so much now, that milk poor mothers contracted with "wet nurses" to feed their offsprings. In certain more "primitive" countries this is still the practice.

As soon as I was weaned I turned against milk. I knew the difference and I did not like it. Ice cold I tolerated it because the temperature seemed to cover the taste.

As a teenager I was a member of the Boy Scouts. One year our troop camped on the banks of the Trent River near Campbellford, Ontario. Every morning a group was delegated to hike to a nearby farm to purchase milk, raw, unpasteurized milk, directly from the source. I did not enjoy it and almost gagged drinking it

One early morning many years ago I was traveling by train to Toronto. As we approached the outskirts of the city the conductor pointed out the window at the fields that were being turned into housing subdivisions and remarked, "Soon there won't be any more room for Bossy." He then told me that he had taken his children out into the country to a farm to acquaint them with country life. He took them to a cow barn but when they saw where and how milk was produced they refused to drink it any more.

Recently I read that cows milk is good for calves while a mother's milk is good for babies and the two should not be confused.

Last week Michael Schmidt, a farmer in western Ontario won a protracted legal battle. For years he had been providing raw milk to people who had a share in his herd. He was forced to adopt this subterfuge because the law forbade the selling of raw milk. He thus, "boarded" cows looking after their needs, milked them and supplied the owners with the unpasteurized milk that they very much wanted.

In 2006 his farm was raided and his equipment impounded. However, on Thursday, January 21, at a trial in Newmarket, Ontario, a justice of the peace quashed the 19 charges against Schmidt. His unique operation has been given the green light and undoubtedly will be copied by other farmers across the province. At his victory celebration Schmidt intimated that his next endeavor might well be to seek political office. Michael, who I came to know while living in the Owen Sound area, is not only a farmer but a fighter. He has proven that again and again over the many years that authorities have pursued his endeavour to supply raw milk.

Born in Germany, he immigrated to Canada and fell in love with farming. He looks like a farmer and indeed it is hard to distinguish him from his Mennonite neighbours albeit without beard. But Michael is a very cultured man, an accomplished musician who for a number of years produced musical events in the hay loft of his very large barn. I recall attending a performance of Mozart's Magic Flute with a Canadian Indian theme. He conducted the orchestra made up of musicians some from the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. It was a great show. On occasion during the performance one might hear the moo of a contented cow from the stables below.

Schmidt's cows were contented, well looked after and healthy, well fed and loved. It is a known fact that contented cows produce excellent and plentiful milk.

Nevertheless, I still believe that cows' milk is good for calves but less so for humans. But if I had my druthers I would opt for the unadulterated product. And believe me the milk we buy in cartons is anything but bovine pure.

What I like about Michael Schmidt is his spirit. On first meeting him I could not help but think about those Old Testament prophets who stood up for justice, who denounced the religion of bureaucracy. Michael as Amos and Hosea could not be cowed by the powers that be.

In a time of big business and big government it is important that the voice of the common man/woman be heard. They may not always be right but they need to be listened to and heard. Unlike cows we must not let ourselves be herded. There is a Spirit that speaks from people that must not be silenced. Let that Spirit speak!

29 January 2010 — Return to cover.