I’m in limbo. It’s the good kind of directionless waiting room. I have done all my paperwork, said the words that needed to be said, paid what needed to be paid and now all I can do is wait and tend to the details. I am maintaining the processes but nothing has yet quite begun in any actual sense. It’s the beginning of the beginning; which means there’s nothing for me to anticipate. I quite like it. It’s been quiet on the overtime front so I have had some leisure time. So, of course I volunteered to milk. I helped a friend out this past weekend at a small production organic dairy. We only had a few Jerseys to do twice a day but it made me very happy to herd the cows down from the pasture into the parlor and milk them out. I got some good exercise, $25.00 and a quart of raw milk. I started thinking about where I used to milk and how much I wish that I could still be there. They’ve changed their milking schedule so it’s hard to stop by and visit (and sneak in my milking fix).
Even though it was bitter cold, I loved the wintertime 4:00am milking. Picture me in an insulated navy jumpsuit that was probably a young man’s snowmobile suit from a long time ago and my punk-rock red hair warming my hands on the filling glass milk jars, my bright blue fingerless gloves soaked with milk and iodine. The parlor was a shock of spearmint green and the heater would glow a vibrant orange overhead; the black and white Holsteins further warming the parlor with their body heat. When it is that cold in such a strangely humid environment everything feels viscous. I liked being still for a moment to just breathe it all in. To remember the wild colors and sensations coming together in the name of agriculture in this little room for these few hours each day. I would snap out of it as soon as I heard a milker come off. We’d all be cleaned up before the sun came up and I’d drive home into the brightening blue horizon in desperate need of coffee and a shower.