Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Don't Feel Sorry for Me!

We just got in from milking Marigold.  I'd carefully put my WOOL gloves on the top of the warming oven of the woodstove in the kitchen, last night, so this morning I would be able to put on a pair of warm gloves--knowing it was going to be cold and windy.   Well, the best laid plans......I couldn't remember where I'd put them, so after searching high and low, I decided to venture out without these wooly comforts, thinking perhaps I'd left them in the milking shed. 

Outside the sleet and sandy-snow were pelting down.  As I gathered hay for the calf, got Cade out of her kennel, and headed under the milking shelter, the volume of snow escalated and the wind sent an arrow of cold between my shoulders.  Marigold was already standing at the gate, and MM was walking up the hill from having fed the pigs.  I ducked into the shelter we'd built several months back, sat Cade beside me and got ready to milk.

My hands already were red and frozen as I kneeled onto the damp earth and prepared the pumps for milking.  Normally dry, the rain--some 2 1/2 inches of it overnight along with some fierce wind, had wet the usually dry earth, where I --in prayer fashion--kneel to milk.  The wind-driven snow swirled over Cade's coat and I pulled mine tighter about me as I fumbled, head down,  with the iodine, and the two pumps.  The clang of the gate let me know that MM had arrived and was letting Marigold into the stall.  I heard the tumble of grain into her feed trough as she made her way in to begin gobbling and munching that squash we grew so much of and the numbers of which are gradually diminishing, thanks to the cow.  MM shut the gate, tied the cow, and gave me a quick report on the turkeys, chickens and pigs...and we set to milking immediately. 

By now, my hands had frozen completely.  The pain of the cold punished me for my forgetfulness.   How careless of me to forget where in the dickens I had put those gloves.  They were, of course,(as I learned later) not in the milking stall, but decorating the top of the warming the house.  I set to work milking "my side."

Milking never takes very long now, as Marigold (without a full complement of grain) is only giving us about 3 quarts per milking (which is ideal for us!).  We were finished in about 20 minutes.  Still there was water to be topped up before the freezing temperatures --(dropping like a stone)--would cut our ability to run water out to the trough as the hose would freeze up.  More hay for the calf, fill up the dog bowls with food, make sure their water was topped up, as well.  I put both back in their kennels.  In fact, this is more like a dry run when it comes to winter feeding/milking.  The temperatures aren't all that low, compared to what they will be.  But it's damp, and dampness always seems to increase the bite of the cold.

We finished the chores and headed back to the house.  The snow swirls kept coming in waves, scouring my face with each subsequent blast.  My eyes watered and I could barely see the porch for the tears.  As I opened the back door to the house, I was enveloped in toasty warmth, glad to have morning chores done.  And I'd finally remembered where I'd put those wool gloves.  There they were, toasty and warm.  Just because, I immediately put them on and savored the heat.

And I can hear you all saying something on the order of  "I'm sure glad I don't have to go out and milk a cow every day, morning and night...!"

But you know what?  I love it.  It's the measurement of pleasure.  If one always sat inside, how would we know the joy of doing so?  There would be nothing to compare!  If I couldn't experience the joy of those warm wooly gloves on my iced fingers, how could I completely appreciate their essence?  

Seems to me nowadays we often seek only the guaranteed "pleasurable" and decline anything less.  Hence, we gradually lose our ability to find satisfaction in the simple things as we demand ever more in order to feel satisfaction.  

Being "out in the cold" and curry-combing the ice-pelleted back of a cow, a cold wind surging around the board fence, whistling in the trees a sentient experience.  It lets me FEEL the natural world at its best. 

Do I want to go back inside?  You betcha!  Would I wish I didn't have to go out?  Well....maybe, kind of...  Do I remember those warm flannel sheets I left as I trudge out?  Yup.  But would I give up the milking to have those comforts one hundred percent of the time?  Resoundingly, no.  It's the comparative measurement of pure pleasure, against less, and I thank my lucky stars to have it!


  1. Elora -- I've always wondered about folks that get out in the cold every day no matter what -- like you and your husband, mailpersons, etc. Do these folks, like yourself, have less colds and flu than the average person? It seems that working outside in cold weather would be very healthy for the body. Just some rambling thoughts as I read your fine post. -- barbara

  2. Barbara! I just happened to be sitting here at the computer when your email arrived...I honestly cannot recall the last time either one of us had a real cold or the flu. We do get flu shots every year. So far, we've not been hit with illness of any kind (knock on wood!) OTOH, we've both been exceptionally healthy our whole lives and, probably if I were to characterize our process overall, we've spent most of our lives outside, and when we're inside, we aren't with other people...just the two of us. When we both worked at other jobs, though, most if not all, inside jobs, we did pick up the occasional cold or flu. The worst was substitute teaching! In the context of children of all ages, we had "the course" so to speak! Despite flu shots (which may have reduced severity) we still managed to get zapped. But here, on the farm, we rarely get a cold.

    Funny, though....the UPS man delivered my Country Spinner the other day and mentioned he was feeling poorly, coming down with a cold. Would you believe, I experienced just the tiniest of symptoms about three days after he'd been here. So, even handling stuff from others who have sickness, can give us a brush with the real world! But you hate to be ridiculous about it and decline to handle stuff until you put on your spacesuit, mask and gloves!! :-))

  3. Nothing like going outside for a bit to make a chilly house seem warmer!

    I'll bet you remember those gloves tomorrow!

  4. You are soooo right, Vicki! I had those gloves right next to my heart this morning, and then, quickly onto my hands. Only problem is that I can't use the pump with the gloves on. Nonetheless, at the close of milking, on they go...when they are with me!!