It’s early, quiet. Morning sun warms my small, drowsy world. I swing my green milk pail at the chickens and turkeys and ducks and goats that swarm around me as I walk the path to the barn. It’s not your turn yet, I say out loud, my voice interrupting  the nature-talk of bees and breeze and bug chatter.

I swing open the barn gate and River and Angel greet me with gentle nudges. In the barn, Conk, the little ram, and Itty Bitty, the only baby goat left, are at the top of the bail stack, eating hay. I guess it tastes better at the top. Itty Bitty isn’t supposed to be in here, but she’s small enough to squeeze under the fence.

Angel comes over and I pat the milking stand and she steps up. Such a good girl. We milk together, giving and taking. I open the head catch when I’m finished but she stands, waiting for the scratches she loves. On her ears and her back and the top of her nose. I give a nudge and she steps down, satisfied.

River waits for me to come and fetch her, but she is willing and cooperative and I tell her thank you. As the pail fills, my thoughts drift and the peace fills me full. A chicken wanders in and around my feet and then out the door. I feel a tug and turn my head to see little Conk, nibbling the back of my hoodie. Shoo, I say.

It’s only a few minutes, this milking that we do, my goats and me. But on this Sunday morning, in the barn, it’s a prayer.