Friday, February 21, 2014

The Milk Clock.

The hills all around stand in generous folds of white. Clouds hover and boil in the west. Wild and reckless, they spill over into my sky, surrendering their rain or snow in sudden bursts. Sunlight breaks through in pale gold shafts. But it's still a distant, winter sun.  

Our big white barn, where the goats live, stands wrapped in expectancy. It's kidding season here. Mama goats shuffle in the straw, squeezing past each other with rotund bellies. 
From cold snow and blue sky I walk quiet into the barn. Hushed air, and warm smells of manure and after-birth greet me. I look over the wooden stall, and there they are. Wet and unsure, tiny miracles lay in the straw. 
We come out into the cold star-filled night, to milk the mama goats, and feed the babies. In the barn, the cold air pulses energy. We stumble in the dark finding not one but two mama goats delivering. The dark gives way to the flashlight, and little heaps of wet cry pitifully. A heat lamp is rigged. I take off my coat and I use Lew's scarf to rub their tiny bodies. The cold is bitter. We bring the four littles into the living room. Cuddling them in the warmth of the wood stove, we feed them bottles of creamy milk. Fluffy and content, they nestle in an over-sized squash basket. More miracles. Breathing, living, furry, miracles fashioned just so by the Creator.

And now my days are run on the milk clock.

The milk clock is powered by the milking of four does, once every 12 hours and the bottle feeding three times a day for the week-olds, four to five times a day for the two-day-olds. 

It's ticking in earnest now, but it will gather speed as five other pregnant does are yet to kid. Lord-willing, many more tiny babies to come.

This milk clock is constant and the babies and their mamas know it's workings well. Their bleats sound the approaching hours loud and clear, as they wait to be milked or fed.

For me, there is soothing equilibrium in the workings of God's nature. The movement of the clouds, the shift in the seasons, the paths of the stars, the birth and growth of the goats. And I find profound contentment and joy in having my days pulse with the rhythm of the milk clock. 

Milking is peace and action all at once. The veins in my forearms move as I milk steady streams of white. She chews her grain and her stomach heaves in the workings of digestion. She stops chewing and her ears twitch if I change my rhythm. I watch careful of her powerful hind legs that can spill the warm milk in the impatient instant. We each, are aware of the other.
The consistent routine of it causes a quiet to settle in me. Especially when I milk at night. I walk out into the dark with my head thrown back, my eyes soaking up the immeasurable glory of the sky. And I think, He knows them all by name…

The bottle feeding is joyful peace. Tiny bleats break the stillness of morning and night. They grow louder and more persistent as we get closer with a bucket of green glass bottles clinking together. And then they see us. Their eyes are wide in anticipation. The scramble and tumble over each other in their frantic hurry to get to the milk first. A few squeals, a bit of splattered milk and finally they each find the red tip of their bottle. The chorus of contented sucking, and tail-wagging ensues. And after the milk is finished, the hungry little mouths search for our fingers.

With each tick of the milk clock, strands of peace are threaded together in this life of mine. 

It really is in the small things, the common miracles of the everyday, that God chooses to put peace, joy, and grace. If we slow down, we can walk in the rhythm of peace. If we practice quiet, we will hear joy. And if we start to look around us, instead of always ahead, we will begin to see HIS grace everywhere