As a beginner bovine au pair, I have to admit I had no idea of barn etiquette. Who even knew there was any? H-Junior tries to tell me today that each cow returns to its same slot in the barn for milking, by their own silent agreement (mostly silent, apart from the moo-ing). I sense a fast one being pulled on me. (Those Austrians, they do love a good cow joke.) Evidently it’s true. They are like gigantic well-behaved schoolchildren seeking out their assigned desks. I watch the procession in awe.
Twice a day we use a generator to power the milk machines. During those one-hour periods, I charge my laptop and phone. It takes two goes to charge the battery. I told them we need more cows so the milking could last longer. I feel like Ellen MacArthur on a mountaintop.
So far, the best chats I’ve managed have been with Ilse, who has soulful eyes and a head the size of a minibar. She peers straight into the kitchen in the manner of a Magritte painting as I do my Sennerin business each morning and afternoon. I have a series of proscribed tasks that go something like this: I light the fire, it goes out, then Mr H takes over. I bring in the milk cans, set up the filters, make coffee (one of my primary functions I can really get into), heat big pots of water for washing the milking equipment, and exchange full milk cans for empty as they go. Then end of it I wash the dishes and escort the cows back out to the playground. Freedom encore.