The afternoon was mild and warmed with welcome fall sunshine. Ten consecutive days of rain had created a muddy mess all around the barn, but none of us gathered there minded the mud so much. I was standing with my two brothers and father on a concrete slab layered in mud and manure, gently pushing Holsteins, Brown Swisses and Jerseys toward the barn for a final milking. After 103 years – over 75,000 consecutive milkings – the DeLoach & Sons Dairy was about to milk its last cow. Even though at the age of 18 I could not leave the farm fast enough, I was not going to miss it. Amy, Clark, a couple of nephews, my sister, and the wives of my daddy and brothers were not going to miss it either.
A switch was thrown and the familiar hum of the compressor that runs the milking machines came to life. It was time to milk the last herd of dairy cows. Outside four cattle trailers waited to load the cows and take them to the auction barn once the milking was complete. A local farmer who just a few years ago sold his herd came by to visit and commiserate. All of us laughed a bit, reminisced, and worked with cows placing the milking machines on their udders, and listening to the cows snort and blow oblivious to their next move. A few brief hours later, as the sun began to cast its setting glow along the pastures out back, the last of the cows came through. Daddy milked her and just like that it was done. Once the barn was cleaned and put to order, he flipped the switched shutting everything down. Stepping out into dark evening, we watched the remaining truck leave transporting the cows destined for another pasture, another dairy.
The author of Ecclesiastes writes: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
It is true with dairy barns, cows and people. Life is always turning and changing. Sometimes for the better and sometimes not, but life is always in motion. The only way we can experience the gifts of the future is to accept the changing from the old. It is also trusting the One who holds all seasons of time.
My daddy and brother will be fine. No doubt there will be a long period of adjustment from not having to get up very early in the morning for the first of two daily milkings, but they will be fine. A new season awaits, and with it are promises of generative beginnings.
So it is for all of us in the passing of seasons. With every ending God has for us new beginnings. The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).
This is the word of the Lord. It is true and can be trusted.