My sister’s husband is a native Californian named Frank. They live in suburban Los Angeles, where Frank works in the dairy industry as a vendor of cleaning products and trainer of dairy workers. But he loves to visit Amish Indiana when he and my sister come to the Midwest.
From the very first time he met my Amish friends, they hit it off. We spent the afternoon visiting and talking and eating, and Frank had plenty to talk about, since he works in the dairy industry and they are dairy farmers. Soon it was 4 p.m.—milking time—and my Amish friend Glenn asked Frank if he wanted to come out and watch the milking. Frank replied, “No—I want to help with the milking.” Glenn said, “Are you sure? You will get really dirty!” and Frank said, “That’s okay with me.”
So out they went… My sister and I watched from behind the red gates you can see in this picture of the milking barn, as Frank put on tall boots and went to work. The first group of eight cows were brought into the barn and put in their places. Frank’s job was to clean the udders and attach the milking machine to each animal. Health regulations require the use of milking machines; the Amish farmers power them with electric generators set up out behind their barns. They also use the generators to power the big metal cooling tanks where the milk is kept.
Frank worked his way from animal to animal, working alongside Glenn and his sons. The second group of cows was brought in, and then the third. Frank was having the time of his life.
Soon the work was done, and the men took showers in the special washroom at the back of the farmhouse. Frank was all smiles, and he understood in a new way where the milk came from that was processed in the plants around Los Angeles where he worked every day.
Since then Frank has been back to visit my friends, and the next time he was able to give them some helpful advice on how to get the already-low bacteria count in their milk even lower. (The lower the count, the higher the price they get for the milk.) And I am always glad for yet another connection between my Amish friends and my own “English” family.