It has been a few years, but still I fondly remember the mornings heading down the grassy hill with the clean steel bucket swinging alongside my rubber boots, dog by my side (he could keep up with me then) leading in the cow. Then resting my head against her warm brown flank, and setting down to milk.
My favorite part of having a dairy cow is what some folks say is the worst. The daily ball and chain. The day in, day out, heading down the hill to bring her in, wash her up, and sit beside her as you lean over to milk, warming your hands even on the coldest of mornings.
The rhythm of our day. A metronome pulsing in the background, mindlessly pacing us to keep up, keep on.
Something I could count on. Like the sunrise. Or the ticking of the clock.
For my child, chores have provided unspoken lessons of caring, of self discipline and responsibility, of humility. I don’t need to remind Forrest that the chickens are waiting to be let out in the morning or closed up at night. He has left the coop unlocked and knows the guilt and sadness of the resulting loss resulting from any one of the assorted predators that call the mountain home. He has let them free range on a day that was too quiet to keep off the coyote.
Remorse from his losses, affections from his nurturing, and pride as he comes in at night with pockets full of eggs, has taught him many of life’s most important lessons. Lessons learned better from his actions than from my words.
Like learning to take the eggs out of your pockets before you sit down.