Monday, February 28, 2011

kenya ~ the land of milk and honey

We drank milk from a carton at the breakfast table...
a carton that looked much look those on the grocery shelf back home and sporting the Brookside Dairy logo.
We never really thought too much about where the milk came from.

Then we toured a little dairy farm. 
The cows were the same colour as those on our farm...
and that's where any similarity ended.

For the most part, Kenyan dairies are small...
and much of the milking is done by hand.

The milk is stored in milk cans...
and leaves the farm without being cooled.

We passed a lot of these donkey carts along the road...
and realized they were transporting milk to market.

When we saw the Brookside Dairy Ltd. logo on a building we were passing by...
we talked our friends into making a quick stop...
so we see how Kenyan milk is processed.

Milk was arriving by donkey truck...

...and by bike!

Most came in milk cans.

The yard was rather congested...
as locals vied for position to unload their milk.

It was stacked on the dock...
and waited in the sunshine to be dealt with.

Hubby found someone who was more than willing to explain how the process worked.
Here's what he learned.

What we were seeing was basically a collection dock...
with milk from 5000 farms in a 50 mile radius being delivered here daily.
It was dumped, cooled and then sent on its way to another facility. 

A rather handsome Brookside truck left the yard with a load of milk...
bound for the processing plant. 

I'm not much of a milk drinker at the best of times...
but I was somewhat cautious when pouring from that Brookside carton the following morning.
We somehow think that milk needs to be cooled immediately in our part of the world.
They don't!

What did I learn about honey in East Africa?

Honey plays an important role in nutrition and medicine...
and is a crucial component of the bride price (no substitutes).

Beekeepers know when the swarms of bees arrive...
and place empty hives in trees to catch the new colonies.

 The hives are made from the log of hardwood tree that has been hollowed out...
and baited to attract the bees.

We saw empty bee hives hanging in trees along the river bed when we visited the sand dams...
and our local guide informed us about honey production in their area.

a land flowing with milk and honey.

Not necessarily pasteurized!


  1. It makes you wonder! We are so very careful and bound by so many regulations to keep us and our food safe. I have to admit to shuddering at the thought of milk sitting in the sun in a can that might or might not have been sterilized. Your hubby must have been SO interested!

  2. So very fascinating and lovely to catch up on your last few posts! Loved the tea plantations! There is much to learn about this land of milk and honey. Too cool how preparations are made to provide housing for the bees before they even arrive!!

  3. I am really enjoying your trip, thanks for sharing all your great photos

  4. That was an amazing tour. Thank you for the insight and I learned more of the Kenyan life through your post. Your pictures tell a lot too! Thank you for your posts Judy! The Lord bless and keep you!

  5. Very fascinating information Judy. I'm enjoying getting a little more educated!

  6. Judy, this was a wonderful and informational post. I hope you do not mind that I am going to write a quick post and direct my readers over here.

  7. It 's easy to take things for granted out our way...but how different to see the country with a hands on approach. That's the kind of touring that I love...and yet we all learn to survive with it's raw milk or pasteurized.

  8. I'm sure Elmer enjoyed this day seeing and learning about the process of milk distribution....quit different from what he is used to. I loved the picture of the bike with the milk cans. Those folks really do know how to work hard to provide for their families. I'll have to show Scot the bees...he used to be a commercial bee keeper on Vancouver Island and also Columbia SA..I think he will find this post interesting.

  9. Huh. Now I am wondering how much safer milk becomes if immediately chilled, or perhaps, how long can raw milk go without being chilled before it routinely becomes unsafe.

    So the milk is later pasturized I presume. Wouldn't that step take care of any non-immediately chilled issues?

    I'm guessing they don't homogenize? I grew up with non-homogenized milk; the biggest issue was that I was too little to be able to shake the milk up myself before use.

    I wish I could have tagged along to hear Elmer's conversations!

  10. Isn't it interesting that other parts of the world don't treat milk (or eggs) the way we North Americans do? Both in Paris and in Tunisia we stayed with people who keep their small milk cartons (probably liter size) on the cupboard shelf, not refrigerated at all. And eggs were stored at room temperature, not in the fridge. They explained that it's because they're "so fresh from the chicken" that they don't need refrigeration. Really?

  11. Fascinating difference, Judy. I still wonder if milk is safe that way?

  12. I almost started wondering if you were going to say that the milk is sitting in the sun, getting pasteurized, like the water bottles getting filtered by the sun.
    It is interesting how differently milk and eggs get treated in other countries...I've a hard time with buying eggs off the regular shelf, in Indonesia ...but, aparentnly, if they are not refrigerated right aways, they are okay. Once they have been refrigerated, they need to stay refrigerated.
    Did the milk taste different there, Judy? I'm so picky about taste in milk... I probably would not drink it plain. I taste the plastic in milk from plastic bottles.

  13. not necessarily pastuerized. ..boy we do things differently here. It is wonderful that that land has milk ..and honey and so cool you got to see how they did it there.

  14. Anneliese...As someone who uses milk only in cereal and coffee, I never really noticed that the milk tasted different.

    Jill...I think that once the milk made it to the processing plant, it would be pasteurized which would kill the bacteria. However, milk which is not refrigerated immediately after milking, develops bacteria quickly. I can only imagine that the quality of the milk when it reaches the processing plant can not be too great after sitting in the sunshine for hours.

    Hollace...I feel much safer having my eggs and milk in the fridge. Apparently the bacteria in eggs will grow more in five hours at room temperature than one week in the fridge. I like my fridge!

  15. How interesting ! I know it had special meaning for you...being dairy farmers. And the honey...sounds like they are very inventive!

  16. Fascinating glimpses into Kenyan life. I think sometimes that we in Canada (and the western world) are so over regulated and fearful. Yet at the same time, we live the longest - now that says something. And I like my fridge, too!

  17. Another very interesting chapter in your journey Judy! your readers have great comments. I'm now wondering if the plastic milk jugs we have bought for so many years are now PVC free? Would we be wiser to buy milk in the wax cartons? Now there seems to be a worry about everything we eat or drink and in how it's packaged.

  18. I found this post so interesting. It made me stop and think about the regulations we have and how necessary some of them are. I also found it interesting the importance they place on honey. My grandma was right all along. This all must have been especially fascinating to your husband.

  19. Oh I can only imagine what thoughts swirled through your heads! I'd have been shuddering to the point of not being able to drink the milk and I love the stuff. You were good and brave souls to go ahead and drink it.

    Enjoyed the discussion of honey as well. Interesting hives they have floating in the branches of the trees.

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