Friday, July 10, 2009

Morning Milking

An old friend asked me what I was up to now that I’ve graduated and when I told her I’m working on a farm, her response was, “Working on a farm eh? Where is this farm? And what do you get to do??? Do you like wake up at the crack of dawn and help with the pigs?”

I wake up at 5:30 in the morning, but it is to the breath of dawn. For dawn doesn’t open the day with a sudden crack, but rather it slowly creeps up from the horizon, stretching and subtly shifting the navy sky to periwinkle and pale yellow. I take my time in the morning, moving slowly like the sky as I wake up, and many days I ride my bike the 13 miles from my house to the farm.

When I arrive in Northfield, I do help with the pigs, but my first morning chore is milking the goats. Jenga, Scrabble, and Owari climb up on the fence to greet me as I enter the barn, and they are always anxious to be milked and then put on pasture. I take them out one by one, Scrabble first and Jenga last, and lead them to the milking station in the barn garage.

Even though there are many things to get done each day, this time in the morning is usually calm, and a contentedness slips over me as I look out at the pasture and the forest at the edge of the farm while the goats stand next to me and eat their grain.

When all the milking is done and the goats are out on pasture, the other daily tasks begin: feeding the pigs, chickens and non-milking goats, setting new fences for the animals, weeding, harvesting, bug patrol, transplanting and seeding, and anything else that may pop up on the to-do list. Even when the list is long, we make sure to take some time to simply look at the animals; it’s important to observe their actions but it’s also gratifying—the goats always look so happy out in a fresh field!

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