July 22 • 02:24 AM

Flashback to cow-milking days draws good laugh

August 29, 2007
Even if my spine were perfectly aligned, (which it isn't) I'm thinking maybe I'd have to go see Dr. Clendenan and staff on a regular basis—not just for maintenance—but for those wonderful quotes which keep appearing on the marker board. Last week's was, "He who wants milk should not sit on a stool in the middle of the pasture expecting the cow to back up to him.''

Just the visual image of that cracked me up! I've not done a lot of milking in my life, but I am nonetheless a farmer's daughter, and instantly visions of the time I was in charge of the milking came back to me.

The year must have been somewhere in the early fifties. Some of the facts are hazy. I think there were just the four of us, or maybe five—me, the two brothers just younger than me, and then my sister. The next sister may have been a baby. I think we'd had company—played some kind of running game, and for some reason my sister had done some spinning around. She'd become dizzy, and we thought little of it, attributed it to the game. I think too that I had gotten to go to Grandma's overnight. I, being the oldest, got "special privileges" like that sometimes.

The next day, though, things went terribly wrong. My parents had to take my sister to the big university hospital, and my aunt (from the city) came to stay with us. My sister was diagnosed with polio, and my aunt's stay became an extended one while my parents stayed on at the hospital.

It became my job, though I don't think I'd ever done it before (and now that I think about it I think I may have been self-appointed and that a neighbor came over very early on to relieve me of that job), to do the milking. We only had one milk cow, and I can still feel the grain of the wood on the three-legged stool as I positioned it, and the swat of the Old Bessie's tail as someone new tried to get milk out of her. It had always looked easy when my dad did it—just a rhythmic pull, pull, pull, pull at the cow's udder resulting in a steady stream of milk into the pail. I can hear the hiss of the milk as it hit the sides of the bucket. I can see him now and then aim the stream toward a waiting cat. Of course I don't think it went quite like that when I tried, though I don't remember that part.

It seems I couldn't have been much over seven or eight, so I really don't know how the cow even got into the stanchion. But the memory of that one little milk-maid experience provided a technicolor backdrop for that quote on the white marker board. The absurdity of the word picture—of the stool in the middle of the pasture, of someone sitting on it, positioning the pail and passively waiting for the cow to back up to it—got a very spontaneous giggle out of me.

How silly! While God does now and then put us in the waiting rooms of life, in the majority of cases he expects some pro-active waiting to happen.

But a little laugh in the meantime never hurt anyone. In fact, it will probably help. What's the old saying about laughter being the best medicine?

Castle Creek
07 - 22 - 19
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