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Got Milk?

October 25, 2011

Monday morning finally arrived, and I think this is the day everyone had been anxiously anticipating for quite some time. Today we would be heading to the village of El Rodeo to meet the families we would be working with all week.

Before we could head out though, several of us woke up early before the sun rose, and headed out to the barn to greet the cows. Every morning members of the HOI staff milk the cows and put them out to pasture. As visitors to the ranch we were invited to come and help, though I’m sure our very presence slowed down their usual 2-½ hour process. But the guys were very gracious and took their time to show us what to do and give each of us a turn attempting to fill the bucket with the warm, frothy milk.

Early morning chores.

The process begins by letting out the baby calves, one at a time, and allowing them to sort through the herd and find their mother. As baby begins feeding, the mother’s back legs are tied loosely together so she can’t walk away. Then once the milk has started flowing, the calf is pulled away and tied to the front of her mother. It almost seems a tease for these hungry babies, as they barely get a taste of breakfast before they’re pulled away. The ranch hands rinse mama off, then begin the milking process. They make it look so easy as they work quickly and their bucket easily gets filled.

Learning how to milk a cow.

Next it’s our turn. We squat down and try to do exactly what we were shown, but somehow the milk doesn’t come out quite as quickly. Everyone takes a turn or two and enjoys a few laughs, and then we decide to let the professionals get back to work. After they are satisfied with what they’ve received from each mother, baby is untied and allowed to go back to nursing. Then they bring out the next calf and start the process over again.

Seeing this process makes me give thanks that I don’t work on a farm, and it makes me appreciate just how much work truly goes into everything we take for granted. To every job it seems there is a whole other world behind the scenes that we never consider. It amazes me how truly ingenious and creative our God is to create such animals and people that are capable of such miraculous things.

Scott gives it a try.

As I watched the little calves tramping through the mud to find their mothers, it made me smile. We could hardly tell one cow from the next, much less which baby to match up to which mother. Yet the little ones knew exactly where they belonged, and their mother recognized the individual mooing that came from her own. Like the shepherd knowing the names of each of his sheep, and realizing when one of the many is missing… Like our God who hears the individual cries of her children and reaches out to offer companionship, comfort, and nourishment… I give thanks for our God, knowing each of our names and exactly what we need. And I give thanks that no matter how many people or animals or distractions are around, we know right where to go to find our Lord.

Kinsey milking her second cow.

Dan takes a turn.

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