I was 15 when I started milking cows. It was on a friend of the family's farm many years ago. I didn't grow up on a dairy farm; we had a few goats and a horse for fun, but I had no experience with cows.
When the opportunity came along to milk cows, I had no idea what I was in for. When I started, it was a 100-cow tiestall barn and later converted into a double-8 parlor. I was just barely tall enough to reach the pipeline, especially when we were the farthest from the milkhouse. I learned all aspects of the dairy farm; milking cows, feeding calves, hauling loads of haylage, hauling manure and so many more.
One of the memories that stands out the most was the summer we unloaded straw. It must have been 120 degrees in that haymow and even hotter as we got closer to the roof. Bale after bale they came up the elevator. After our last load, we had an ice cream treat and jumped in the pool.
Surprisingly, it is one of my favorite memories and resurfaced as I was milking with my niece the other night. She is 15 and just started helping me in the parlor a few months ago. She has grown up around the farm life but has not milked cows before. It has been so fun watching her become more confident around the cows and develop lifelong skills. She has tossed around the idea of becoming a veterinarian one day. She definitely has the drive to get there, and will rock in any path she takes.
What started as a summer job for me turned into a lifetime career. What a journey it has been.