Morning Milking | St. Lawrence University Sustainability Program

Morning Milking

Monday, October 30, 2017

One morning, it suddenly occurred to me that I was not where I had expected to be. In retrospect, this should not have come as a surprise; I had expected to be living in a dorm, quietly writing poetry in my spare time, sleeping until 10 o’clock. Now, I found myself squatting on an overturned bucket, milking a goat at 7am. The sky was still colored from the sunrise when I walked outside, and the air felt cold as I walked to the barn; my hands would have been frigid if not for the warmth that Snowball gave off. And maybe it was partially due to that closeness that I felt like I was connected to her and to what I was doing.

I was still stuck in an early-morning daze when I walked out to the barn to milk. Only after I had let Snowball and Foxy out of their pen did I realize that I had forgotten to bring the milk pail. Snowball was already up on the milk stand, eagerly pushing her nose into the grain bucket to get whatever remnants were left. Unable to believe my forgetfulness, I started sprinting back to the house. When I reached the corner of the barn and looked back, however, I found both Foxy and Snowball trotting after me. They stopped when I did, and didn’t move when I began to slowly walk away again. I made my way to the house, ducked into the kitchen, and grabbed the pail.

Of course, they were both waiting by the porch when I walked outside. They meandered after me as I started back to the barn. But when I broke into a jog, they did as well; we all ran to the milking stand.

It wasn’t really special, but it felt special at the time. When I milked, it was the first time I wasn’t focused solely on trying not to be clumsy; I was paying attention to Snowball and Foxy as well—their warmth, their reactions, their unique characteristics, how they differed from each other. I felt like I had gotten to know them, even in such a brief period of time, and that was truly unexpected: not only was I not where I thought I would be, I was enjoying it.