This morning I am so excited about a private class I am going to be teaching in two weeks. It is the most unique teaching opportunity I think I have ever had. I will be going out to a local dairy farm, having lunch there and then teaching a class. Afterwards, we will go out to the barns for the afternoon milking of 40 cows. I will be able try my hand at milking a cow and feed a calf. How cool is that?!
I grew up on the Canadian Prairies (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and yet have never done this, if you can believe it. The most up close and personal cow experience I have ever had involved being amidst a stampede of cattle on the loose when I was about 10.
My Gram, my brother and I were sitting on the steps at the front of the house on her rural property in the middle of summer, having Popsicles and talking when we saw this man standing out on the highway in front of the house hollering and wildly waving his arms at us. He was Ukrainian or Polish (as alot of Manitobans are) and with his thick accent we could not make out what he was yelling.
Next thing we know there are about 100 cows all around us, going full tilt through the front yard. Some stopped to much the hay bales stacked on the one side of the house. (On the prairies, on the farms, folks often pile hay bales on the wind exposed side of the house as a windbreak and for added insulation against the cold.) The rest took off down the back acreage, trampling anything in their path, the farm workers in hot pursuit on foot.
Eventually they got them all rounded up and back to the neighbouring farm. Turns out the guy waving his arms had been hollering "THEY COWS ARE COMING!! THE COWS ARE COMING!!" to warn us we were about to get trampled if we didn't stay exactly where we were, up on the front steps. Let me tell you, it was mighty astonishing to come face to face with the beasties like that! Silly thing is, I didn't have the good sense to be afraid. Cows just aren't that scary though I guess had I been trampled, I would have had a different opinion.
Anyway, I like cows just fine and it will be a wonderful adventure to see a dairy farm up close. I often think about our farmers, simply because we have an organic garden and know how hard it is to work the land, even on a small scale. I grew up knowing people who were real farmers and relied on their crops for their income. Our farmers have a tough life-the work long hours, doing heavy physical work, often face daunting financial hardships and yet they love what they do. They work hard every day so that folks like you and I can walk into the grocery store and find something to eat. They really are a the heart and soul of this country and without them, where would we be? I am looking forward to learning more about the workings of a dairy farm so the next time I buy milk, I will know exactly what it took to get it there. I love learning things like that and I love how art opens doors to all kinds of opportunities and experiences!
*Photo taken the the PNE, August 2007.