A haunting sell led to a life altering decision

Fifteen years ago today, the ordinary act of selling a milk cow to a Missouri man came back to haunt me. It later led to a life altering decision. In fact, it changed the course of my life.  Yes, little did I know that it would one day change everything. 

I sold him my troublemaker cow

I stood in the driveway watching the man pull away from my Kansas farm.  A cloud of dust engulfed the truck and trailer.  I shook my head and muttered “greenhorn” under my breath.  Privately I wondered if the cow would survive a six hour trip to Missouri in the makeshift stock trailer he rigged up for the job.  

I shrugged and dismissed the concerns. 

“Good riddance, Sarah.” 

life altering decisions

She was not my monkey and it was no longer my circus.  Yes, Sarah was a cow but she sure turned our dairy farm into a circus with her masquerading as a monkey.  I had enough of her shenanigans.  She had to go.

A tame cow goes wild after calving

Sarah was a Jersey cow we bottle raised.  We even halter trained her and took her to a handful of dairy shows.  She was once tame.  However, she calved on the pasture and went wild. 

life altering decisions

Motherhood does that to some cows.  Rumor has it some people go wild after having children.  But I digress. 

Sarah made it a point to turn milk time into a circus by running around the pasture refusing to line up with the rest of the cows.  Every day, twice a day, the grand chase began. She loved every minute of it. We developed resentment toward her.

My life was hard enough as a single mother of six children tending to 24 dairy cows and the customers. 

life altering decisions
Me during the season as a single parent of six children and farmer with 24 Jersey cows.

I hoped to never see Sarah again. She was headed to Southern Missouri with her new owner.   It was a full six hours away. Sure, I had plans to move to Missouri in the next six months. But let me emphasize, it was in the opposite direction.  I was headed north.  Sarah was headed south, three long hours south of my planned relocation.   Life couldn’t have been better or so I thought.

Sellers remorse hits

Guilt toyed with me  for selling him my troubled cow.  I felt bad for the guy. He was nice. Although, he was inexperienced with cattle.   We told him that Sarah was giving us fits but her youthful age overruled her unruly nature. 

While Sarah was young and a good producing milk cow, this man would get a crash course on caring for a family cow gone circus cow.   I dismissed the guilt knowing the school of hard kicks knocks will equip him to be a good homesteader.  

All’s well that ends well, right?  Three months passed. I received a phone call from a contact near the area I planned to relocate.  It was a group of people who were aiming to create a Christian farming community.

That cow comes back to haunt me

“Good news,”  He said.  “We have a new person moving to our area.  Could you help out when you move here?  He is a nice man from Southern Missouri going through personal trials. He has a small herd of cows.  His goal is to run a dairy farm. The cow has not calved yet.  But he has a long commute to the city.  Perhaps you can relief milk for him.  You be our resident dairy expert and teach us all how to milk a family cow.” my contact explained. 

I was open to the idea until he said, “Jon will move here next month.  He needs help milking his cow until he transitions out of the city commute.”

“I can’t help you,” I said.  “I am so sorry.”  He plans to hand milk a cow I sold him. She resisted machine milking. It was a daily game of ring-around-the-milk-barn.    I sold that cow to end my headaches.  I am not about to teach him to hand milk her.”  My protests were entirely ignored. 

I reluctantly help leading to a life altering decision

Six months later, I moved to Northern Missouri.  The circus cow returned to my new farm to haunt me.    The guilt pushed me to enter into a lease arrangement.  Long story short, I allowed him to board his cow at my farm so long as he showed up to help milk her and the other cows as he was able.  He firmly committed.  That greenhorn showed up every morning at 5:00 am to learn how to milk this cow I sold him.

But how would I hand milk a cow who was totally wild? There was nothing I could do but face off with Sarah and her unruly ways.  I took her back to the basics of halter training.  She resisted at first, but returned to being civilized. It was like someone who never forgot how to ride a bike.  

The milk off challenge

Ultimately, she had her calf. Sarah’s mischievous nature took possession of me.  My goal was to train the greenhorn how to milk the now calm cow. I planned to have some fun. I opted to make it a sport.  Challenging the greenhorn to a milk off was my first plan of attack.   

He sat on a stool on one side of the cow.  I sat on a stool on the opposite side.  Specifically, he would milk one side and I milked the other. I challenged him to see who could milk the fastest. Note: I don’t like losing and this guy seemed smart and competitive.  

I assigned him to take the back teats.  The natural thing to do would be to milk one front and one back teat. This meant no awkward reaching under the cow’s belly.  But, I reached and milked the  front teats anyway.  

 You see, I knew something he didn’t. Sarah had long front teats. Her back teats were unusually short.    I learned it is much faster to milk long teats rather than short teats.  The fast and easy way to win was to milk the longer teats.  I set the timer and we were off.  Of course, I secured the win.  It was easy. He was gullible. And later I learned he was smitten.

It was there in that milk barn that I got to know Jon. True, he was a greenhorn about cows, but he had a deep knowledge and wisdom of Christ that surpassed many I knew.  He would routinely encounter my customers sharing his faith, joy, and music. 

One fond memory I have is when Jon began singing a psalm he put to music. I caught a glimpse of a milk customer standing in the doorway while we milked. She put her finger to her mouth. It was a signal not to interrupt Jon’s singing. He finished. The customer clapped. Jon was like that. Everything about him reflected the tender love of Christ.

He gave me back the cow

I couldn’t help but fall in love with him.  When I saw Sarah disappear in that cloud of dust that day, I did not know she would return to my herd.  A simple act of selling a cow became a life altering decision. I had no idea the day he drove off the greenhorn would become my husband, my best friend, and companion.  What a great life altering decision. Sarah rejoined my herd when we united our lives in marriage.

The last 13 years have been some of the best years of my life.  I am so glad Sarah returned to haunt my farm bringing her owner with her.  Every year, we take time off to celebrate that fateful day. It truly transformed both of our lives.

Are you interested in buying a family cow? Make sure you don’t buy a cow as a greenhorn. You story may not have a happy ending like this. Be sure and check out this website.

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  1. It has been a joy to watch this story as it continues to unfold for you and Jon. Amazing how God works and puts a plan in place that fits just right.❤️

    1. Thanks, Amanda. This is part of my life that has been a great joy to me. It is so nice to be affirmed and valued by Jon. He treats me like I am royalty. Which he says I am, a child of a king.

  2. I loved this story! I thought I had a good “how I met my husband” story. You have me beat! I love your honesty. You put it out there. It is what it is. Competitiveness honesty love. I really enjoyed it.
    Cina Ceder

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