It was suggested to me that this is the best angle to photograph milking a cow.

Finally!!!  I milked a cow.  For years I’ve wanted to milk a cow, which is a challenging task to complete in Connecticut.  If a farm sells their milk, they are not allowed to let uncertified hands touch their cow’s udders.  Unless you have a friend with a cow, it’s unlikely you’ll be milking a cow in this state.

That is until Matt discovered Local Farm in Cornwall, Connecticut.  Debra Tyler, the owner for Local Farm sets up a great day for groups.  You milk a cow and within an hour you have made butter, cheese and have prepared yogurt and sour cream that will be ready the next day.  Within two hours, you have made ice cream.  You enjoy all the food with the others at the workshop pot luck style.  It’s a wonderful way to spend three hours.

In Awe

I was amazed all day.  I had no idea how much food a single milking produced.  It’s truly unbelievable how much food one cow creates.  Using only our small sample of people as a gauge, I was stunned to discover that apparently only women have a lifelong dream to milk a cow. Everyone in attendance had come to support a daughter, wife, of girlfriend.  Also, cows are really soft and like to be pet.  These miniature jerseys seemed like big dogs.  Brushing cows brings joy to both the brusher and the cow, which works out well since brushing cows may increase milk production and overall health so much that some milk farms have industrial brushing machines. 

The process

As to the milking, I struggled at first.  I’ve always been told, it’s not as easy as you think.  You can’t just yank on the udder and produce milk.  The udder requires a little more finessing.  Debra suggested we nestle our head into the side of the cow.  She thinks it not only reduced your changes of getting kicked in the head if the cow kicks forward, but also creates a bond between milker and milkee.  Squatting on a low stool, head nestled into the cow, I grabbed the udder with one had.  I couldn’t get the right rhythm, and I certainly couldn’t aim the milk into the bucket when I did.  I’m pretty sure I squirted Debra multiple times.  With time, I found it.  Once I got the hang of it, the process seemed effortless and meditative, until I tried to use both hands.

Besides being an utterly enjoyable day, two things stood out.  First, when I was struggling Debra had me reach for an udder on the far side to ensure I couldn’t see what I was doing.  She suggested I just try to do it by feel.  As a Pilates instructor that fascinated me a little.  Not seeing forces us to tune into our bodies a little bit deeper in certain ways.  When I found the pattern it was so rhythmic that between having my head cuddled into the soft, warm cow belly and the tempo of milking, it felt almost like being in a trance.  It was meditative.  One of the reasons we require regimented exercise is that we have so many tools (power lawn mowers, washing machines, etc) that take all the work out of life.  Life used to force us to be more active.  That’s not new information to me, but the realization that in eliminating some of those activities we have also reduced time that was meditative suddenly seemed significant.

If you have to milk a lot of cows, you may sing the praises of milking machines.  And, if your day from dusk to dawn is milking cows you may not always appreciate the physical or mental parts that I get to enjoy at a one day program.  I’m not judging our need to utilize machines for faster and easier processes.  It was just interesting to me that a task could instantly lull me into a state of calm while producing sustenance and feeling productive. In all of progress there is something lost and something gained.  And as some one who is terrible at meditating, it dawned on me that I may require movement to meditate.

This is why we try new things.  There is always so much to learn.

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Other crazy dreams Maggie’s fulfilled include:

Swimming in Jell-O

Building an Igloo

& Walking on Fire!

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