Full circle — I’m back with the cows.

For those of you who have been reading from the beginning, you’ll remember my early days as a cow-milker.  I stopped almost 2 years ago after a much-loved Jersey died of mastitis and I began questioning the ethics of domesticated animals.  I was exploring my own capacity for wildness, and I started to despise myself for helping train the wildness out of these creatures I had grown to love.  I stopped eating dairy and eggs… I was a vegan for nearly a year and then slowly started slipping into my old eating habits.  It was just too hard to find food that met my diet when I traveled by Greyhound, and  when certain people cooked on the commune (there are “vegan options” at every meal, and sometimes — albeit rarely —  that’s just a tray of green beans).

And now I’m back in the barn.  A large portion of the dairy crew has been off the farm on vacation for the past week, and the dairy manager asked me if I’d mind coming down and helping out to ease the labor on the remaining crew.  I’d been thinking about going back to milking for awhile, and I was glad for the opportunity to check things out again.  I’ve been doing the afternoon chores, giving bottles to the calves and grain to the teenagers and filling all the water tanks in the different pastures.  My body remembers the barn and the cows.  I easily swing my legs through the fence and slip my body as always between the poles into the calfyard without thinking.  I navigate the rowdy teens, charging confidently to the grain trough with the bucket held high, warding off hungry heiffers and rambunctious young males.   I’ve also been helping out the morning milkers, herding the cows and doing small tasks around the barn.  I easily remember the heft of the full milk cans, stooping and lifting from my legs to gracefully heave them into the cooler.   When I’m herding, I again slip into the energetic space of aligning myself with the cows’ intentions, and using compassion and suggestion to get them to understand mine.

I love being with these animals again.  I remember how much they have to teach me.