"Four to seven in the morning, then a full day of work, then five to eight at night. The chores. Milking. And it became more than work, became something of spirit or grace, almost a benediction.
Out to the barn to feed hay and silage and clean the gutters and start milking.
Not with machines.
Much is made of bonds between man and animals, horses, dogs. But this is beyond that. The milk stool is set just so and the forehead is put into the soft warm spot where the cow's gut meets her back leg so that the stomach rumbles and gurgles as part of the person's thinking, breathing, low sounds and the hands work in a rhythm perhaps as old as all rhythms, the movement that is the giving of milk, so that the person becomes the calf and the cow the mother and the milk hisses and sputters into the bucket, into the white foam, unless the barn cat sitting in the aisle begs by sitting up and waving its front paws like a small bear. Then the stream is aimed and squirted into the cat's mouth, a quick move from the rhythm and back while the cat gulps and jumps up to sit on the cow's back to clean itself, the same back where it sleeps in the winter nights to stay warm."
~Excerpt from 'Clabbered Dirt, Sweet Grass' by Gary Paulsen
I love this little blurb from Gary Paulsen's book. He has captured the very essence of milking. This is what it's all about; you can't capture the same moments and emotions by using a milking machine. No, it has to be by hand. The milking stool is set "just so", and you lean into your dairy animal's warm, breathing side. You are lost in a trance. A meditation. A prayer. Like the ticking of the hands on a clock, the pulsing of milk going into a pail keeps time. Hiss, hiss, hiss, goes your dairy clock. Time is ticking... Enjoy the peace while you can. Some are called to prayer by the sound of a bell, others by the bellow of a dairy animal. It is time, they both say. Time to slip into a moment of nothingness and simply be.
The last stream of milk is procured from her udder, and the moment is over. The 'Amen' is unconsciously spoken or thought. The prayer has ended. You breathe deeply, say 'thank you' to your animal, and you both part for the time being. Part until twelve hours have passed and you meet again to pick up where you left off.
You meet again, and the milk stool is set just so....