It's another balmy Sunday morning. We walked to the Fenton farm after breakfast. It was beautiful on the way. Dark dramatic clouds and black trees were lit up magically each time the morning sun poked through. It was the kind of morning that reassures you that living 10 miles from the nearest supermarket is not a sign of insanity. When we reached the farm, we went inside the dairy barn to watch the milking. Inside the long, low milking parlor, it was dark and warm with the heat of live animals. The aisles were filled with water from the extended January thaw, yet it still felt cozy inside. The milking machines hummed and the cows chewed.
Matthew, the three-year-old farm boy, jumped off his Big Wheel and proudly led Essie up a little splintered wooden ladder to the stall where he kept his new pet, a two-week-old calf. Esther was impressed with the litte farm boy and his older sister who get to spend every morning in the barn surrounded by warm and fuzzy animals.
I love knowing that we have this small family farm, the last of a dying breed in our part of the world, at the end of our road. Yet we rarely go there. Instead, we drive miles and pay admission to sterile tourist farms like Billings Farm or Adams Farm when the real deal, the true essence of Vermont, is just up the street.
It's been a going joke in our house since I was first nursing Esther that whenever we hear the milk truck come grinding down the road at six a.m. we pretend it's coming for me. But, honestly, the sound of that truck passing our house each morning has become a source of comfort and I dread the day I no longer hear it.
I’m not sure why it takes having kids to appreciate small farm life but I can see how it takes having kids to access the world of farms and animals. I never would have dared to ask the farmers to come inside to watch them milk if I didn't have my kids with me. It would have felt too weird, them slaving away at their livelihood, me watching like it's a spectator sport. Going to the zoo in my single years just made me feel sad for the animals. though I still find animals in cages a bit disturbing, our most recent trip to the zoo in Stuttgart left me stunned and amazed, like a child, at the diversity of the animal kingdom. I also couldn't help noticing how similar our family's behavior was to the chimpanzees.