I can’t think of a more tumultuous time of my life than the last six months: learning to milk a brand-new dairy cow. I have tried many things to gentle Gracie as we both learn the ropes of cow-milking, and the most effective has been …. patience.
A hot tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel. –Proverbs 15:18
The difficulty of my relationship with Gracie has revealed my absolute best and absolute worst traits. On the best days, I am more patient with her than I’ve been with any other challenging trial or person in my life. On the worst days, I am reduced to the hottest tears and angriest temper I’ve ever exhibited.
On the most challenging days, I have said, “Gracie, you make me so mad!” (imagine that much more strongly). But that’s not exactly true. Yes, she can be difficult, no doubt. But God says that a “quick-tempered man does foolish things” (Proverbs 14:17) and He commands “do not hasten in your spirit to be angry” (Ecclesiastes 7:9). When I snap, it is my fault — not hers.
Yeah, I know — here I am talking about my relationship with a cow. She can’t reciprocate in the relationship like another person could, yet I learn from it nonetheless. When I sit on my stool shedding tears over every squirt of milk and crying to the Lord to give me patience, I think about the difficult people in my life and how I treat them.
Am I as patient as I should be?
Do I blame others for my bad mood or allow resentment to fill my thoughts and heart?
Do I withhold good from anyone, though it is in my power to give it? (Proverbs 3:27)
No matter what others do to me, I will one day appear before my Lord to answer for every careless word I have spoken (Matthew 12:36) and to give account for things I have done (2 Corinthians 5:10). Not what others have done. What I have done.
So even when I milk the cow, I pray the Lord will fill me with His patience and His wisdom. When I am an open vessel through which He works, my patience bears fruit. For “the wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands” (Proverbs 14:1). And “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:28).
And this I learned from milking a cow.
Please share: What have you learned from difficulties and adversity?
save time, spend less, and get healthy... simple & delicious traditionally-cooked meals using ingredients you already have... even leftovers... 30 min or less!
free worksheet + videos:
Healthy Dinner in 30 Minutes... While Spending $0 Extra!
We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. This post may contain special links through which we earn a small commission if you make a purchase (though your price is the same).
Tandy Sue Hogate via Facebook says
Thanks! I shared. Wonderful words of wisdom. 🙂
The things we learn! I learned that a little sweetness and a sturdy yelp is more effective than expending unnecessary energy moving a brick wall, aka stubborn cow.
🙂 So glad that I’m no the only “crazy” person whom the Lord is teaching patience in new ways through milking goats and a cow. The chastening of the Lord to remain calm, even when you get kicked in the face by the cow, or the goat sticks her nasty hoof in the milk pail, rendering it useless, is well worth the lesson, though! Now, my relationship with the cow is wonderful! Even when I’m so tired that I can barely keep my eyes open, and each squirt is painful and I want to cry (and sometimes do!), Maybelle knows her routine now, and what’s expected of her, and what happens when she misbehaves. Sigh, now, if I could get the goats to be as cooperative all season long – every season. Hoping that the cow doesnt have to be re-trained each freshening, like the goats do!
Best lesson we learned with the cow – permanently separate her from her calf, and bottle feed it! That made all the difference in her cooperation, after about 3 days she figured out that she wasn’t going to get what she wanted, so she might as well do what we wanted. We pour off the first half gallon of milk each milking into a bottle, and the kids love to bottle feed! If you pour off the end, your giving the calf all the cream, as the cream is produced later in the milking.
Many blessings to you!
Alice Perkins says
Animals can be the best teachers we’ll ever encounter. (Now you know my frustrations with horses!) They’ll always push the very buttons we need to learn from, and turn a crystal clear mirror on us. Yikes! I thank them every day for being my patient and most wise teachers – they’re always willing to do what needs to be done for me to “Get IT!”
It is amazing how the seemingly simplest of tasks are the most rewarding spiritually. I think that is one of the core reasons we are drawn to agrarianism. It is a much “harder” life, carnally. But the spiritual lessons that exist in such a life are far more rewarding than carnal comforts.
Maria Moles says
I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about! I’ve been through the same thing for the past 8 1/2 months with my Jersey named Spice. I’ve lost my temper and hurt myself. I’ve screamed and cried because she wasn’t cooperating. I’ve cried because I lost my temper and behaved so badly. Really made me think twice about myself! But through it all, I found that keeping a soft voice, no matter how mad I am is vital. If I yell at her while I’m milking – she’ll kick the fire out of me as a reminder to behave myself! I’ve also found that milking time is wonderful prayer time. Seems like I feel closer to God sitting there on my little stool with my face buried in Spice’s flank, and listening to the sounds of His creation all around me.
I have to agree with one of the other posters – I would advise taking the calf away from the cow. That’s what I did, and it really helped. Spice only knows to let me and my family milk her, so there’s not such a fuss. We took her calf almost instantly, so she never knew to nurse her. (It also meant there was very little bawling from either of them.) It paid off with the calf too. When we traded her off at 6 months, she was extremely tame, lead trained, and a joy to be around.
Now, I get to start all over with my Holstein heifer, Maggie. She’s due to calve any day. Then, I’ll not only get to train a second first-time Mama, but I’ll still have to milk Spice, too. Talk about needing/ learning patience! I’ll be spending a lot of time thanking God for all that milk, and the ability to learn how to turn it into cheese, butter, yogurt, etc. for my family.
Maria L. Moles via Facebook says
Good to know I’m not the only one! 😀
Thank you all for the supportive comments and for sharing what you’ve learned!
I’ve said before we’re sharing milk with the calf. Well, we weaned her a few weeks ago in an attempt to help Gracie be less confused about her role. 🙂
Wardee – I could say the same for my chickens, [smile] – great post and great words of wisdom!
I don’t know if this is any encouragement for you, but…
When I was nursing *my* first baby, I had very low milk supply. So low that I didn’t realize it and my baby ended up in the hospital! Everyone told me to quit–it was too hard to try and feed and supplement, etc. But I just couldn’t stop…even though even I hated how bad it was and every nursing was proof that something was wrong with me. It was against Nature to feed my baby only from a bottle if I could at all help it.
Anyhow, every baby I ever had needed supplementing. There was no way around that. However, comma…future babies had much more milk and nursed longer (more months, I mean) and more contentedly, etc. I had a lactation consultant tell me that if I hadn’t worked so hard with the first, I would have probably had to give up on my second as she had additional problems with nursing of her own.
I thought about that when I read your post. It is very possible that all the work you are putting in now will benefit you the *next* time she freshens. I am sure you know that is true, but I thought you might like to hear it anyhow. When you reap *that* harvest, you will look back and be grateful for your hard work, I think.
Kelly Morris says
Wow! As I prepare to go out and “do battle” with my stubborn diary goat, this hits me square between the eyes.
First, thank you for being honest about your struggles. I love real people.
Also, thank you for reminding me about my dependence upon God to change me. I’ve certainly cried out many times from my barn up to the heavens for God to “make this animal” do whatever.
This homesteading/husbandry thing isn’t as easy as it looks, I think I keep waiting for my life to line up with a Norman Rockwell painting but it just doesn’t work that way.
Bless you today! 🙂
MommySetFree (Pamela) says
Excellent post Wardee! Sage words coming from a transparent heart – beautiful.
Thank you for this beautiful post! It’s so true that animals (and sometimes young children) help reveal what’s going on in our hearts! Wishing you the best with your future milking.
Great post. I have yet to milk a cow- hope to have enough land for that someday. I couldn’t help but think of all the things (mostly enormous amounts of patience) my eldest son has taught/given me. I am so thankful for that stubborn boy who chooses his own path. He has taught me that whether I am ready for him to do something is really irrelevant until he is ready himself. Thanks for the reminder to submit to life.
A wonderful post. And I understand…completely. 🙂
I love reading this post, and all the comments. I relate this post a WHOLE lot. It can be so horrifying when God makes you really look at yourself! I know you used to pop over to my blog some in the past, and I thought you might like seeing some of the post few posts. We are finally making some little steps towards homesteading. I have our first animals, baby guineas hens under the porch in a brooder right now. Lord willing we will be doing lots more when The Man gets back.
Perhaps try to think of it from a mom’s point of view, hopefully this will offer you more patience. If you were breastfeeding a baby and someone was taking your milk you would do everything you could to stop it. She is a creature and just trying to be a good mom for her baby. Her milk is put there for her baby only–it ultimately was not designed to provide milk for a whole family of humans. She is a creature put on earth for the simplicity of having a cow on the earth, not for humans to do as they please.
Be grateful, and understand how angry she must feel at you….I suspect it is much more than the anger you experience….though she can not communicate that to you.
Oh, how I remember being so very annoyed at my children’s attitudes; “Gimme, I don’t like this, crying/screaming for no discernible reason, etc.” Age makes no difference.
However, I still remember the first time that the still small voice said, “If their attitudes make you feel this way, how do you think I feel when you exhibit the same feelings toward Me?” The first time this happened, I stopped in my tracks and asked HIS forgiveness for my attitude(s).
This has happened many times and continues to happen. Never mind that my children are in their thirties! Our Father continues to mould and shape us according to His Infinite Perfect Will. He is always forgiving. We are always continuing “growing up” into His intended image.
Wardee ~ lovely. 🙂 I can relate too. I always said animals teach us patience or they try it. 😆
“We get the cow we need, not the one we want” Paraphrasing a quote from Cesar Millan.
The Lord seems to send us many opportunities to learn patience and love and this seems to one. We don’t have a cow, though I wish we did, so I am learning in different ways. I see this and it makes me think of all the ways in which my kids are working on my patience!
Barbara Grant says
After many episodes of goat hooves in the pail, I bought a hobble. I put it on her back legs. She doesn’t mind and we are both happy.
Heather Anderson says
Wonderful post. It’s amazing what God uses in our lives to continue our growth and maturity. I think animals can really show us things in a different light than almost anything else. We can’t reason with them and ask them to work with us. Nor are they small and “helpless” like an infant. My biggest trial like that was trying to work with our little yellow lab puppy many years ago. If you have ever watched or read Marley and Me, that was much like our dog. All while having a crawling baby and a couple other very young children. I did train the dog, but not without seeing myself at my most angry self imaginable. In the end, that “horrible” pup has become the most loyal and faithful dog. It was so worth the effort of pressing through, and worth working on me at the same time.