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

The Milk House column is published in various countries around the world, and in several languages. Let me know what you think by sending your comments here.  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 farm or be from a rural area.  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 farm or be from a rural area.

A Final Note

At this point it would be rude to shriek when you turn to the back of your farming 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

The Digital Harvest

My housemate brought home a virtual reality headset. Being somewhat behind the times, I still thought they were the imagination of science fiction. Slipping it on, I was amazed at how fast the physical world disappeared. Suddenly, I was in a shark tank and, every way I turned, I was surrounded by hammerheads.

The North Pole Conspiracy

little-buttIn an age of alternative facts, spin doctors and stilted media outlets, it is up to the individual to question the information he or she is given. It is no longer enough to be told something or to see it on the television.

The Cubs and Grandma

Growing up in a rural area, there were no other kids to play with, so my grandmother living just up the road became my best friend. It was a demanding role which involved playing catch and cooking squirrels at her house, but one she took on with vigor. She had satellite TV when my parents did not and would let me watch the Cubs play on WGN after the night milking or when it was too wet for fieldwork.

10 Farm Novels for Winter Reading

Presented below (in no particular order) are 10 novels that deal with farming. They are from different countries, cover different time periods and are on the list for different reasons. Because of their diversity, one person is unlikely to enjoy them all. Nonetheless, hopefully you can find the right book to sit by the wood stove with as winter settles in.

A Day at the Irish Mart

Cars and sometimes trailers whirred by, nearly brushing my elbows. Sometimes they honked. Charolais and Herefords stared at me from the back of their trailers as they passed. They might have been on their way to meet their end, but they were getting a ride there. One of them shook its head at me.

Man vs. Beefst

The Hereford and Angus crosses were kept in the old freestall barn. Every time I called from abroad, he updated me on the new calvings. He also made it clear he was waiting for me to come home at Christmas to help tag them. “Just so you know,” he said, “They’re not small.”

Walking Among the Owned

One yacht owner flew in a tiger so his guests could take selfies with it. Another got bored and ordered a group of dwarfs to waterski around his boat for a laugh….

 Grounded in the Past

Traditionally, local farmers were charged with safeguarding the tombs on their land, the responsibility sometimes being passed down through many generations. In modern times, as farmers were forced out of business or chose to move to cities for better opportunities, many of these ancient tombs were left vulnerable…

Game of Misfits

Baseball is one of the few American sports that never gained any traction in Europe. Europeans find it slow and boring. When I took my housemate Tommy to the softball practice, he brought a soccer ball to kick around while he played in the outfield.  Also, never having seen a game before, he started picking up the bases, thinking they were garbage someone left on the field. “Man,” he said, “someone could trip on these.”

The Afternoon Crowd

I suppose the point of the mirrors is to see you’re lifting the weights properly, but if I’m going to be forced to look at myself, I want to be doing something more interesting than picking something up and putting it down again. On every machine is a sketch of an androgynous man demonstrating how it works.  He’s robust and well-built – but doesn’t look quite human. That’s how I’ve always pictured people who went to the gym…

The Viking and the Spartans

In my limited Italian, I could tell he was telling me where the sea lay. What I couldn’t tell was if he was suggesting that’s where my body would wash up.

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.


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.


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…