It happens every morning at 10 am. My husband and best friend can attest that I am not a person of discipline or routine, although I’ve always wanted to be. But this I can’t dodge, even after a crazy night in the ER. For if I don’t milk, I’ll cause her unnecessary pain. Although, sometimes I’m selfishly a little late. 10:25 am, 10:50 am today. I don’t do well with routine.
At milking time I lead her by her collar to the homemade stanchion in our “milking parlor.” It is located under the barn overhang and recently swept by Andrew, but otherwise surrounded by junk that was here when we arrived. A torn baby blue couch, a beat up washer. Shredded tarps likely harboring deadly snakes ready to pounce, just to name a few. I close my eyes and picture a different milking parlor, surrounded by flowers and gardens, sans junk, flies…and snakes.
She is doing so much better on the stand now, although I still tie her feet. I clean her teats and her udder, all the while praising her, caressing her side. The frothy stream hits my galvanized milk bucket and with it a new day begins. I pause, I pray, I breathe. My husband may never understand, but it is the very best way to start my day. And after 26 years of life, I have a morning routine.
My hands are getting stronger, calloused. They are the laughingstock at work right now; I pretend I don’t mind. She is up to a quart with each milking and soon it will be a half-gallon. Her milk is sweet, not the least bit “goaty” in smell or taste. I have a cold glass after my morning coffee to steady my shaky, ever-dirty hands. The rest will go to neighbors and cheese-making.
A beloved co-worker died today suddenly, unexpectedly. We are going broke farming. We received some devastating news concerning a family member. The rodents are eating all of our vegetables. A lot of the time we feel discouraged and have no idea what we are doing here.
There’s all this, but then there’s another day. Another gift from God to be received, another milking. For this, I am thankful.