I’m nearly ready to apologize for the ugly cow at the top.  Just keep in mind: 1). It’s a picture my friend put up there for me.  2) Ugly cows need love too.

Run out and tell someone about The Milk House

Welcome to The Milk House

Here’s a safe place to throw around your love and hate for The Milk House column, published in various countries around the world, and in several languages. Let me know what you think by sending your comments here.  I can take it. If you’re not sure what you think yet, check out past TMH columns.

The Thought from Whence it Came

A magazine column about sex, drugs, and violence in the dairy industry? No.  Not really.  Just a thoughtful, honest look at what it means to milk cows.  No articles on how if the Taliban won our women would all be wearing head scarves.  No mad rambling on how the country has lost the conservative values that built it.  Just a thoughtful, honest look at what it means to milk cows.

A Final Note

At this point it would be rude to shriek when you turn to the back of your dairy magazine and find my face staring at you. If after reading The Milk House you turn to the person next to you and say something interesting, tell me what you said.

Recent Columns

Giving Ball

He very well might not have been Russian, but I’m going to call him “the Russian.” He had a crew cut, and he was big and muscled – the kind of big that reminds you why you’re a literature student instead of a street fighter. They put me on his team, and I soon realized it was the price of being new.

Japan and its Milk Modernity

The Meiji government promoted the nutritious value of milk and, after studying dairy farming from the Danish, set

up the nation’s first milk processing plant. Previously, because of its rarity, milk was only available to royalty. Now, all levels of society had access to it. Part of proving to the West that Japan was now an equal was drinking milk as they did.

Typecast

I was flabbergasted. I was going to be in a movie because of the way I looked. I could imagine them raking through hundreds of pictures, searching for that special star quality to make the film a success. I pictured them receiving my email, and everyone in the office gathering around the desktop to take a look and then jumping around and knocking over piles of contracts in their excitement because they had finally found their man.

Born to be Broke

I would like to think I caused a bookie to reform his life for the price of only 24 euros, but I probably didn’t. Instead, it becomes another affirmation of what I had already known to be true: I was meant to never be rich.

Fishing During a Class War

“But I like the last paragraph the best,” he said. “How does it go?” He paused for dramatic effect and then said, “Oh yeah …” and took off his shirt.

He had the last paragraph tattooed across his chest.

Generation eXcluded

My parents’ generation had kids in their early 20s, as was expected of them, sent them to college and are now taking care of their parents. They are on the brink of old age themselves. Many of them are left with the feeling that their time has never come.

That which was Marked by Squirrel Tails

We soon came upon a fat gray squirrel climbing a tree 10 yards away. It froze when it saw me. I aimed, pulled the trigger – and watched it scurry out of view. “Do you think I got it?” I asked my father.

Social Farming

The approach to mental health in Geel was radically different to the standard insane asylum, which sought to remove the mentally ill from the general population. By 1930, one-quarter of the town’s inhabitants consisted of these adopted guests.

What’s Actually Lost in Translation

There was a comfort in knowing that, despite still plenty of examples of hate crimes and discrimination, we as a group (humans) were heading toward the right place. However, the luxury of such assurances feels more fickle these days.

Trading Punches (for Life Lessons)

I’ll admit, I found it somewhat problematic to hit someone in the face I wasn’t competing with or at least mad at, even if it didn’t hurt much. I know this because once I was matched up with a big slow kid who seemed like a nice guy, and the instructor kept yelling at me to “Hit him in the face! Hit him in the face!” so he could learn to duck.

Milking with Santa

When I opened the parlor door, I found Santa standing next to a third-calf heifer in the holding area, the marking crayon in his hand. He had drawn a Christmas tree on her side and was now putting an X through it. He was in rougher shape than I thought.

Weddinged

It happens to many people: You hit that age when all of your friends are getting married, and suddenly your calendar is filled with nothing but ceremonies and receptions.

Writing the Wrongs of Farming Characters

While it won the Irish Life Award, it was also conceived as scandalous, being called “a dirty play.” Eugene sat in the audience of its premiere in Dublin and listened to the sparse and intermittent clapping at the end. The highly Catholic and clergy-dominated country (in which divorce only became technically legal in 1998) was not comfortable with witnessing infidelity before them, particularly when it was planned.

Bog Butter

“But it’s past its expiration date,” she said. “How do you know it’s still good?” “Because it’s butter,” I said. “It’s always good.”

I know when my father has done something wrong because there’s no butter in the fridge. home-altered

                                                    Bad Principles

When I was in junior high, our school principal showed up drunk at a basketball game. He shouted at the referees over a bad call, calling the decision “asinine.” When they gave him a warning, he told them to look it up…

                           Nature vs. Man (On Bicycle)

“You’re going to die.”

It was my landlord who said this, and she couldn’t hide all of her smugness in saying it. It was the first of many times we would hear it…

I walk the River

I later discovered that such deaths in the river are not uncommon. My housemate once lived where the Corrib runs into the bay, and he suggested that recovery teams pull seven or eight bodies out of the water every year. The stories of these people are largely unknown, because it is only when they cannot immediately recover the remains that it makes the news.

Rabbit People

little-buttThe American Rabbit Breeder’s Association or, more commonly, ARBA. If you say ARBA out loud enough, you realize it sounds like a sect. Little did I know – it was an even more dangerous organization…

Tea-Talk on the Irish Countryside

There’s a danger that lurks in the Irish countryside. A hazard waiting latent under the gray skies as one passes the seemingly quiet stone houses, covert with peril. Something that has victimized all those who live there. Something few are spared from…

As Seen on TV

There’s an old gag in my family that started off as what they interpreted as an annoying habit. Thanks to 4-H and National Holstein Conventions, I was able to visit a few states and the landmarks in them. When I saw one of those places on the television, I would point out that I’ve been there…

A Cowboy Once

The first adult book I read was Riding for the Brand by Louis L’Amour. I was 12. Afterward, I read anything with cowboys, guns and a high sense of justice, writing book reports on Zane Grey and pushing aside homework for Larry McMurty…

The Rye in the Sky Idea

Tristan told me to come to Dublin that weekend and bring my boots. He had gotten the allotment. He had been on the list for more than a year, and it was finally his. Tristan said the word again, as if it was the grandest thing he knew: The Allotment…

The Giant Man Wearing a Top Hat in the Desert

It wasn’t long after we left Wells and set out into the lifeless gravel that I realized I underestimated the amount of Cycle Across 1 075water I should have carried. Even before I ran out, I became faint. Not wanting to validate the danger of the situation, I let Paul go ahead of me while I dug out a few energy bars…

The Country Mouse Pauses

We froze when we heard the screaming. My girlfriend’s father had gone ahead to bring the car around while she, her mother and I waited by the door of the restaurant. He shrieked as if in the greatest pain of his life. The women ran toward him…

Going Greyhound

“Man, I just need 11 dollars. I lost my bus ticket and I need to get home to see my family. Must have fell out of my pocket, you know? I just need 11 dollars, man.”

He shifted on his feet as he pleaded. He made a show of impatiently looking back toward the ticket counter…