Through HelpX, we met this family of seven in Alberta, Canada and got to experience a real farm life for almost two weeks. We were there mainly to help with the website of this family’s outfitting business, but we also went hunting, learned how to shoot guns, tied hay bales, went quading with kids, and many more.
The first night we were there, we learned how to milk a cow, by hand! What added to the fun was that our milking trainer was Ethan, a 12-year-old boy in the family! It was really cute that he was so enthusiastic about showing us how to do it.
I remember the first day of this HelpX experience, I stepped on a big loaf of cow poop! The same poop was stepped on by Ethan who was walking right in front of me, leading me to sit down by the cow that we were going to milk. He saw me pause there in the middle of the milking parlor, looking at me looking at my sneakers. ⠀
“What’s wrong?” He asked me, poking his head behind the huge butt of this cow we were supposed to milk.
“I stepped on cow’s poop.” I answered calmly, maybe with a bit of a nervous laugh.
“Oh yeah. It’s all over the place here.” He said and pointed nonchalantly. “Okay, now sit here and I’ll show you how to milk the cow.” He pointed at a upside-down box that may or may not have poop on it too.
Ethan showed us how to circle the top of the teats with our thumbs and our index fingers, then use the rest of our fingers to squeeze the milk out by squeezing the rest of the teats.
The milking part honestly wasn’t hard to learn. The difficult part was to always on a lookout for the cow fidgeting around, which meant that it might step on us, poop on us, or kick and spill the milk any second . My toes were stepped on once, luckily I pulled them out soon afer. I had never felt anything so heavy before!
There were also always about 5 cats around the milk bucket whenever we were milking. They were trying to steal some fresh milk (sorry, no pictures. It was really cute like you would imagine.) In the beginning, I would wave them away. Later, I would just squeeze the milk from the udder right at their faces. Don’t worry, they really enjoyed it. I could tell. Plus, it wasn’t my idea. It was my trainer’s.
The milk that just came out of the cow’s udder was really warm, like the milk I would warm up to drink if I couldn’t sleep at night. Also, it was foamy from having so much air in it from milking.
“Can you drink this milk just like this?” I asked Shawnelle, the mom of the family.
“Yeah, after filtering it.” She said with a cheerful attitude. She was always up-beat in a humble way.
I tasted it out of curiosity, and it had this fragrance that I had never smelt before in milk. It felt creamier and sweeter than regular milk. I got addicted right away and I would drink it straight and use it in my black tea.
Shawnelle would use this milk to make cheese and butter for the whole family. They also used the milk to add to their coffee, make pancakes, or just drank it straight.
I wondered how many people in the cities have ever tasted fresh warm milk like this in their lives. It seemed like their lifestyle was similar to my grandparents’ lifestyle, but the parents were not much older than us. This lifestyle seems so rustic but luxurious at the same time. This was as close to the source of your food as you could get.
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