Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Letters From The Barn: A Meditation On Milking

I bought a new pitcher to strain the milk into after milking each day. It's a simple one, but it's pretty. Kind of cream, with pretty pinkish flowers on it. Now, anyone who's ever milked knows that milking itself is NOT pretty. Which is why, perhaps, I so love my sweet, little pitcher for the fridge.

And, it's not that little either, but what else is sweet? I guess sweet is big, too. I am big. No way could I battle horned goats if I were not. Or, perhaps there is, but I'll let someone else find out about that.

One thing that is not sweet is straining milk. The step that comes right before the pretty pitcher. Did you ever consider what used to be in your milk before it got into the carton? Not horrible things, evil things, just grass. Or a stray piece of straw.

Actually, the original owner of any cartoned cow juice has probably not just grazed prior to milking and is being milked mechanically, sanitized for your protection. So, let me state this another way. If you were milking just for yourself or maybe a few neighbors, the old fashioned way, do you know what might be in there?

The oddest things, you might find. Whatever has grabbed a ride on your cow or goat (or buffalo...whatever it is that you milk for your pleasure or hunger) through the day. A stray bit of clover. A damp, drowning violet. A few, innocent cow hairs.

You might even wind up with a whole colony of wee beings from Horton Hears A WHO in there. You just never know. I do listen for the wee, little voices calling for help out of the sea of milk drifting on a clover flower some days, but to this moment, I've yet heard none.

Something that has happened is that I've gotten used to fresssssssh milk. I can't stand it even three days old now. I pour it out for the other animals. I really can not bear it. I KNOW how it's supposed to taste. I feel like i'm eating a rotten apple and trying not to grimace when I drink it any older than two. Isn't that odd? It starts to make sense why my grandfather's side always had a family cow. (And a lot of kids to go milk it early in the morning!)

I'm quite sure it's technically stable for longer than that. Maybe it's kinda like eating a tomato right out of the garden. You know, one that's warm with the sun still on it as you put it straight in your mouth. That's a freshness with Mother Nature's (or whoever you give a tip of the hat to) thumbprint still on it.

Similarly, fresh, um, squeezed milk is the same way. It's refreshingly neutral. Almost a non taste. But in a good way. Like water. But different. I don't know how to explain. What a commercial I would be. Hurry and buy my milk that tastes just like water! But, in a good way. I'll give you a good price on it. No more than Perrier, I promise.


Author: Meriwether O'Connor