I always like to sit and chat with my students before class starts. One particular day, as we visited, a young lady spoke to me.
“Professor Howard, I think I remember you telling us you have a cow that you milk?”
“Yes, Abby, that is correct.”
“Can I come milk your cow? I’m from Los Angeles, and I have hardly seen a cow. I think it would be sad for me to have lived for four months in Idaho and to have not milked one.”
I paused for a moment. I milk my cow twice a day, and it hardly seems like something that I think a person needs to experience. But I just smiled. “I guess you can, Abby.”
Immediately another student’s hand went up. “Can I come too?” Then a few more chimed in with the same request.
I just shrugged. “Yeah, I guess anybody could come that wanted to.”
I decided to invite my other classes as well. I told them I would make it a party. I have a snow cone machine, so I volunteered to make snow cones, and they could also canoe and swim in my pond.
I figured I might have around 10 students. I ended up with over 60. As word got around, friends of friends of friends would ask my students if they could join them. Of those who came, only about 20% were in my classes.
At milking time, everyone lined up with half on each side of the cow. My wife helped on one side, and I was on the other. Our cow is gentle, and patiently put up with all of the attention.
The last two people were a huge, football player size guy, and Abby. The guy went first. Shivering with fear, he knelt down by me.
“Wow! She is such a massive animal!”
I laughed. “She’s just a small Jersey. Other cows are much bigger.”
“I’ve never been so close to something so big!”
He trembled, but eventually, with lots of encouragement from his friends, he tried his hand at it. Then it was Abby’s turn. Abby’s hand shook as she reached out to milk. Her hand was inches from the cow when the cow swung her tail. Abby screamed and jumped back. The cow didn’t even move. I, on the other hand, jumped so high that I think I lost about ten years off of my life. I also lost about half of my hearing. Eventually Abby was able to milk a little, and she was so proud of herself.
Next we let everyone gather eggs. We opened the door and let the chickens run out into the yard. A few lingered in the building. Abby went in to gather eggs, but she froze with fear.
“The chickens are staring at me!”
“They are chickens. They stare at everyone.”
“But what if they attack me for stealing their eggs?”
I assured her they wouldn’t, but she didn’t seem to believe me. I finally shooed the chickens out of the building. “Okay, Abby. They are gone now, you can gather the eggs.”
She was just reaching for an egg when she stopped. “They are staring through the doorway!”
I sighed and closed the door. She gathered the eggs, and was as ecstatic as a child at an Easter egg hunt.
As she proudly took the eggs to the house, she grinned at me. “You know what? I think I would make a great farm girl.”
I just smiled. Sometimes it is better to say nothing at all.