By Linda Porter Carlyle
MacKenzie Isabelle Evans bounced on the truck seat. “I’m so glad I get to go with you on your field trip!” she exclaimed for about the ninth time. “And I think field trips with just two people are even more fun than going with a whole class. With just two of us, we can see everything there is to see, and we don’t have to wait for a bunch of people to take turns to do something. I just love cows! Don’t you?”
Joseph turned to look at her. “I don’t know. I never met one before,” he said. “We didn’t have any cows in my old neighborhood.”
G.M. (that’s Joseph’s special name for Grandma Maddie) chuckled. “I love cows too, Mac,” she said. “I love the way they look. They’re so round and so angular at the same time.”
“What do you mean?” Mac asked.
“Well, their stomachs are very round and full. Their bags are round and full. Especially before they’re milked. But their hip bones stick out so sharply,” G.M. answered. “And their tails are long and straight. I just like the way cows look. Here we are,” she added as she turned into a gravel driveway and parked near a long white building.
Joseph and Mac hopped out of the truck. G.M. climbed out a little more slowly and stretched.
A short woman in tall rubber boots appeared in the doorway. “Come on in!” she invited. “I’m just getting ready to start milking.”
Mac, and Joseph, and G.M. walked over to the door. “Holly, this is my grandson, Joseph, and our friend, Mac,” G.M. said.
Mac and Joseph both shook hands with G.M.’s friend and politely said, “I’m glad to meet you.” G.M. had made them practice introductions for the last two days. She said they were old enough to know how to behave properly when they were introduced to someone new.
Holly led them into a room with a gray cement floor. “This is the milking room,” she said. “You can stand along the wall there and watch.”
Holly opened a door to the outside. Mac gasped. It looked like there were hundreds of cows standing just outside the door.
“Ingrid! Come on, old girl,” Holly called. One huge black and white cow pushed forward and ambled through the door. She walked right across the little room, stuck her head between two poles, and began to munch on the grain that filled the box in front of her.
“They come when she calls them!” Mac exclaimed. “I didn’t know that cows come when you call them! Did you know that?” she asked G.M.
Holly grinned. “Yep. Our cows all know their names. We raised them all from babies.” She picked up a hose and sprayed water at the mud and gunk on Ingrid’s legs and feet. Mac could see immediately why Holly wore those rubber boots.
“Now I’ll wash her udder,” Holly said. “I don’t want any dirt to get in the milk.”
When Ingrid was clean, Holly turned around. “Would any of you like to try milking by hand?” she asked.
“I would! I would!” Mac exclaimed. “Only I don’t know how to do it. But I should learn how. I mean, shouldn’t everybody know how to do as many things as possible because you never know when you’ll have to do something unusual? I mean in an emergency or something!”
Holly laughed. “You’re absolutely right. People should know how to do all sorts of things. So come here, and I’ll teach you how to milk. But first, get the milking stool. It’s on the window ledge.”
Mac started forward. She looked at the window ledge. There was nothing there that looked anything at all like a stool. She looked at Holly wonderingly.
Holly laughed again. “Right there!” she said. “It’s upside down. See the thing that looks like a short broom handle? That’s it.”
Mac picked up the stool and turned it over. There was a kind of seat all right. “It’s only got one leg!” she exclaimed.
“That’s right,” Holly said. “And when you sit on it, that leg plus your two legs will make three. Watch.”
Holly put the milking stool on the floor and sat down on it. “See,” she said, “you can lean back and forth on it if you need to.” She put a clean metal bucket under the cow. She rested her head against Ingrid’s smooth side. She took one of Ingrid’s teats in her hand. “You kind of squeeze and pull at the same time,” she said. “Like this.”
A stream of milk shot into the pail. And then another, and another.
“Wow!” Joseph whispered. He grinned at G.M. “I always thought milk just came out of cartons.”
“That’s why we’re here!” G.M. whispered back.
A sleek cat suddenly appeared behind Ingrid’s back legs. “Ah, you want some warm milk, do you?” Holly asked. She squirted a stream of milk at the cat’s mouth.
“Look!” Mac squealed. “Look at that!”
The rest of the afternoon sped by. There was so much to see and do. Finally, G.M. said it was time to go.
Mac settled against the back of the seat as G.M. drove back down the highway. “I had such fun!” she said. “I loved learning to milk. It’s a good thing Holly has those milking machines and doesn’t have to milk all those cows by hand! That would take forever. I didn’t know it took so long to milk a cow! And I loved feeding the baby calves! Those calf bottles were huge! And they slurped up the milk so fast! I didn’t want to leave, but now I can hardly wait to get home and tell my mom and dad all about it!”
“You sound like the Sabbath School lesson,” G.M. said.
“The lesson isn’t about cows, is it?” Mac asked, puzzled. “I don’t remember anything about cows!”
“No,” G.M. answered. “It’s about the excitement of following Jesus and our eagerness to share Him with others. Just like you can hardly wait to get home and share about your day with your parents.”
“I get it!” Mac exclaimed. She bounced on the seat. “And Jesus is even more exciting than cows!”
Have you ever milked a cow—or a goat—or fed a calf? Letting a calf suck on your hand feels really funny! If you start them sucking on your hand, you can lower their heads down to a bucket of milk and teach them how to drink out of a bucket instead of nursing. You’d probably want to tell everyone about that if you did it, right? That’s how we can feel about sharing Jesus with others too. Let’s ask Jesus to help us feel excited about Him and know what to say.—Mrs. Sox