When a dairy cow needs milking, it needs milking, period. Keith was away overnight once, not due back till late afternoon the next day. All I could think about was that poor cow. Having nursed babies, I understood her pain. Surely I could take care of this, I thought, and help both of them.
This cow was known to be a kicker. She had only recently gotten used to Keith, finally allowing him to milk her while she ate feed from the trough. I knew the drill, so I got a bucket of feed and headed for the corral. I also knew her penchant for kicking, so I put on Keith’s jacket and hat before I left the house. I thought I would look and smell like him and she would never know the difference.
As I headed for the stall she saw me coming, and began a slow walk in my direction. I made my first mistake. Keith always called her with the same phrase every day, so I did too, lowering my voice as much as possible. The cow stopped and looked at me across the fence railing. For a few minutes I thought she had me, but I held up the bucket so the scent of the feed reached her on the breeze, and she started walking again.
After that I kept my mouth shut. I simply poured the feed into the trough and waited for her to put her head down. Then I reached out and started milking. Instantly her head was up again, and she looked over her shoulder at me. I stepped back, keeping a careful eye on her hind legs, ready to jump if she looked like she was even thinking about kicking.
For a long moment we stood there eying one another. Finally, she gave a snort and shake of the head. The jig was up, as they say. For all the world it looked like she was saying, “I really need this right now, so go ahead. But don’t think I’m not on to you.” She put her head back in the trough, and I began milking again. It was a compromise. She gave me just enough to get the pressure off her aching udder, but not enough so I would think she had not seen through my disguise. A quart later, she stepped back from the trough, and I took both the hint and the milk into the house. When Keith got home, she gladly let him finish the job.
Isaiah had a lot to say about this same point. If a cow—a dumb unreasoning animal—can know its master, why can’t we so-called intelligent human beings recognize ours? If a donkey knows where to get its sustenance, why can’t we figure out who we must depend upon?
Have you ever seen a cow path? Cows learn when it is time to head for the barn, and they take the shortest route every evening at the same time, following one another down the path, until it is beaten from their hooves and so obvious anyone could follow it. I look around our world every day and marvel at how many smart people don’t seem to have a clue where the path is, and what’s more, brag about it. Then I look at God’s people and cry for all the ones who claim to be His children, but act the same way.
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for Jehovah has spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel does not know, my people do not consider, Isa 1:2,3.