Earlier in the semester, during work program, two farmers, seven Maine Coast Semester students and I walked away satisfied with pitchforks in hand. The second round of harvesting hay was complete. The evidence of our hard work was seen in our blistered hands, sweaty arms, and contented smiles. The truck carried the hay into the large wooden barn, and we piled it up in the loft where it would become food for the animals come winter.
This past Thursday, I walked into the barn for volunteer farm chores. The opened barn door framed the illuminated pink sky as the sun began to set. The three cows were retuning to their wintertime bed in the barn. Margaret, one of the farmers, scooped hay in front of them as I began to milk Lola. Her pale pink udders were full of warm milk, and the rhythmic pattern of my hands matched the sound of the milk hitting the metal pail. Later that evening during dinner, I took the last sip of creamy, delicious raw milk from my small glass cup. It left a cold, wet mustache on my upper lip.
This delicious beverage was not made in the industrial sized factory farms that result in the pasteurized milk found in supermarkets. It was created from the hard work of students, farmers, and animals alike. I was the one who sat on the red plastic milk crate and cleaned the udders with soap and water. I lathered the udders with the thick Vaseline in preparation for milking. Lola, the cow, made the warm milk. The farmers fed the hay to the cows in the corral. The farmers, students, and I were the ones who earlier in the semester harvested that hay earlier in the season for the cows to eat.
Prior to coming to Chewonki, I often had a hard time seeing the momentous impact of what may seem to be small actions. One of the most rewarding aspects of being at MCS is seeing the work of individual actions and how they connect together. The teamwork is incorporated into everything we accomplish here. Sometimes the work is difficult and tiring, but at the end of the day, as I sip my raw milk, I can see (and taste!) that the end product is well worth the hard effort gone into creating it.
-Johanna Douglas, Belmont, MA