Unlike Dane, Tess has settled into our new little village like a fish taking to water.  From day one she had new friends, and it’s rare to see her outside of the house alone.  Sometimes it’s rare to catch her alone in the house, though she’s taken to hiding in nooks & crannies with her sketch pad and pencils.  I think I need to buy stock in a paper company.

Wednesday it was her day to play at a friends house (until I’ve asked the mom, I’ll call this friend “A”). Now A is pretty awesome in her own right, but the awesomest is that A has a pet calf.  A cow.  An adorable, born-at-Christmas, cow.  When Tess & A go to the barn to visit the kälbchen, she gets so excited (the kälbchen, Tess too, of course).  She jumps all over the stall, four legs in the air at once to hear Tess tell it.  She absolutely loves, loves, loves A!

On Wednesday, Tess’ second playdate at A’s farm, she was invited to help milk the cows at the second milking.  I was so excited, that before I could stop myself, I had invited me & my camera over as well.  I could hear the dad chuckling over the phone, and I could imagine him thinking;

“Sure, let the crazy Americans come on down.  Free labor!”  I didn’t care, we got to milk cows!

By the time I got to the farm (.8 km from our house), it was not only dark but incredibly stormy.  It has warmed up in our part of Germany this last week, and icy rain streaked our cheeks enough to hurt.  Me & the kids geared up for the trek from the house to the barn.  Tess knew the way, the farmer and his hands were already there.  It was incredibly dark, Germany is a very “green” country and no lights were needed between the barns and the house, everyone knew the way.  Except us.  Thankfully Dane, taught to be prepared by his soldier father, had a flashlight.  A boy flashlight with almost zero lumen, better than zero, but not by much.

The litte ones & I hugged the lumen and carefully picked our way through the ankle deep, boot-sucking mud.  The wind blew at our coats, froze our ears, and the rain made keeping our eyes open hard.  Strange noises, metal banging on old machinery, boards rattling on the barns, cows rustling in their stalls, and maybe zombies coming out of nooks & crannies, scared us.  But we soldiered on.  I was determined to not only afford Tess the opportunity to milk a cow, but so I could!  I’ve never, ever milked a cow.  It’s on my bucket list.

We got past that first, long, dark barn.  And, I’m not kidding, a mountain loomed.  A mountain of mud, maybe manure, and just over the crest I could glimpse bright lights through the dark, through the rain, through the storm.  I stopped. I  blinked.  I looked at Tess.  Did we take a wrong turn?

“No mommy.  That is the way to the barn.”  Really?!?!  Really? My resolve was gone in an instant.  Cows are awesome.  Fresh milk is amazing.  Crossing anything off my bucket list rocks.  But I was not climbing a mountain of manure in the cold, wet, rainy, zombie-infested dark.