Sunday, December 1, 2013


D&C 87:8 and see Matthew 24:15

A talk given at an LDS Young Women In Excellence Program. November 2013 by Barbara Matson

When Jerry ( my husband) and I were high school sweethearts we both had dairy cows. He had five and I had two. Our dads had assisted us in this venture. So picture this a little later. Two young farmers on a date. He says, Oh, Barbara, will you marry me? I answered sincerely, “Yes but-I won't milk your cows !”. (And I might add, I didn't)

Do you know the story of Johnny Lingo? He was so wise that he offered eight cows for Mahana to her father as a part of his petition to marry her and to show his love. He knew that it would build her self esteem. Johnny saw her true value as a person. No one in the village thought she was attractive or worth anything. It was said that her father would have given her away for the horns of one cow!

I think that my father took it into another realm. He said Jerry, Barbara comes with two cows! Hmm What a bargain I was! Of course he would jump at that kind of a deal! :)

Here is a picture of me as a young bride with our mixed herd of cows.

Let me go back a ways farther than that. When I turned twelve (like yesterday) my dad announced that I was finally old enough to help milk the cows and I would get $3.50 every two weeks from the milk check! I was so excited! My brother (who was 3 1/2 years older than me) and I then began milking the cows together every evening. That is right, EVERY evening. Rain or shine, summer winter, birthdays, Christmas, Sundays. Cows have to be milked every day and on time! Just the same as they needed to be fed. Our Dad milked them in the morning except sometimes during the summer when we would do both.

Every evening by 5:00 we were in our old chore clothes and headed to the barn only a few yards from the house. It was not fun. I actually hated milking those cows but then again we made the best of it and had some great times in the old barn. We only had about eight cows. No my mom wasn't an eight cow wife. Dad bought them and raised their calves and built a little herd. Their names were something like-Ruby, Vera, Veda, Marg. Peggy and so forth these names were fun but We never spoke the names of our cows in public because.... They were named after the women we knew from our church! I do not think they would have been flattered to be named after a cow but we didn't do it maliciously. We just did it in a spirit of fun. We actually admired these women whose names we used. But, SHHHH, don't tell.

This was not your modern grade A dairy. We put oats and hay in the manger for them to eat so they would come in the barn when it was miking time. We, my brother, Lane and I, and our Collie dog, Ring, rounded them up from the pasture .We would walk down the lane about one quarter of a mile long, every afternoon to get the cows in and bring them to the barn. We would always take Ring and when we got to the gate we would just open the gate and say “Go get 'em Ring” and he would round up the cows and herd them through the gate and down the lane. Everybody needs a loyal friend like Ring and we could learn responsibilities, loyalty and a lot of things from him. Lane even used him on camping trips to clean the dishes. His pals never knew!

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loveth at all times.

brother Lane with Ring and baby cousin, John, with Ring

We used electric milkers and while they were running we would turn the volume of the music very loud on the big four foot high radio and dance together. So I had my personal, suave, ballroom dance instructor at age twelve. We learned all the modern fancy moves and thought we were pretty good.

To put the two milkers on and off we would squeeze between the cows wash their udders with a wet rag and throw the rag like a ball into the target bucket. Then put the milkers on the cows and dance for five minutes or so then change them to the next cows. Sometimes leaving them on too long (to the painful discomfort of the cows, ) It was a warm place to be in the winter when it was cold. Cows give out a lot of heat. On times when we were not dancing, I would sit on my one legged stool and recite readings or poems , talks or the articles of faith. Whatever I was learning at the time. After the milker came off we would “strip” the milk” which means to get the last milk by squishing it out by hand. It required some muscles to do this little trick. This is when we would practice squirting the warm milk into the open mouths of the not so tame, barn cats. They would only come close when we were milking so they could beg for a treat of warm milk ! There is probably a lesson here too about how the warm milk of the gospel can turn unruly people into happy, friendly folks. Just like those wild barn cats were transformed.

Matthew 5:6- Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.

Sometimes the cows would shift and step on our toes or swat us in the face with their tail which often had a little manure on it. Yuk, yuk, yuk! We had to clean up behind them as they would often “relieve themselves” when they were being milked. I hated that part but we kept our barn as clean as we could. Then we would haul the very heavy huge milker buckets out to the front of the barn and dump the milk through a strainer into the milk cans. Heavy work for a young girl but I became strong which proved later to be to my advantage whenever a boy would get fresh with me. Muscles are good! The boy I married was not one of those “fresh“boys, He was a perfect gentleman.

I often thought about the Savior being born in a barn and supposed that the cows, calves, cats and dogs and other animals there might be something like ours. The barn became a sacred place. A place to me where I could tell the cows my feelings and have a quiet place to pray when my brother was elsewhere. It was a place where there was love. Where two young kids learned to work and to appreciate each other. When my brother left for collage it became my job to do with some help from my dad.

Milking cows is like school or work or “Personal Progress.” It takes consistency, dependability, hard work and determination. It requires patience and even love and respect.

So what does it mean to “Stand in Holy places?” Can you find a holy place in your room? In your work place? Joseph Smith found holy places in a grove of trees, his bedroom and even in a prison where he was unjustly confined. Wherever he was he made it a holy place by his very presence and his actions and his love of God.

Where is your “holy place” by your bed, under the covers, in your closet, at a desk or just anywhere you are. Does your school locker look like a holy place?

Back to the cows...

I decided to take my heifer (a two year old /teenage cow named “Heart” because there was a heart on her forehead ) and join the dairy 4-H club. You see, there was this really cute boy there (yes, the one I eventually married). We began the 4-H meetings in the spring and the assignment every week was to work with our animals and groom them, tame them and teach them to lead so we could show them at the fair in the fall.

Here is a picture of me, with Heart. I am on my knees looking her straight in the eyes and begging her to behave!

I could catch Heart with a bucket of grain and put the halter on her but I couldn't lead her for the life of me. She was much heavier and stronger than I was and you can picture me hanging desperately onto the rope as Heart bolts around the pasture while I sort of stumble along and skid behind her. It was not a pretty scene. I got very discouraged, I had blisters on my hands and as a result, I wasn't as faithful at practicing with her as I should have been. That is until a couple of weeks before the fair. Like cramming for a test I tried with all my might but Heart would not cooperate. I was so discouraged and I prayed and I cried to no avail. Then one day. Someone much taller and bigger and stronger than me who loved me very much took the rope. It was my father, He could command my belligerent teenage cow to follow his lead and she did because he had the power to do it. I watched in grateful awe and a few days before the fair he gave the lead rope to me and I was able to lead and show my heifer I could now teach her to follow and stop and stand “firm and immoveable”, with her feet in a perfect position for the judge. Good enough for a very nice ribbon if not a trophy, that was reserved for the very cute guy who worked every day all summer with his cows. The hard work and daily routine always paid off for him in the form of nice trophies and cash prizes not to mention the reward of satisfaction.

Here  is a picture of our 4-H club at the fair. I am the last one on the right. The “cute guy” is third from the left and the suave brother the third from the right.

When we would prepare our animals for the fair we would wash them and feed them and keep fresh straw down for them to lay on and clean up behind them and comb them and groom them. They got the best feed there was. They got to stay in the stalls out of the storms or the heat. They were pretty spoiled cattle. Away from the heat in the summer and in winter away from the cold. They became our pets and we loved them. We spent a lot of time with them.

Here is my brother gently butting heads with his very tame cow! Show off!! :)

Jesus said, speaking of the last days when the wicked will be burned as stubble, “but unto you that fear my name shall the son of righteousness arise with healing in his wings and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves in a stall.” The same sweet comparison when he said “gather her chickens under her wings”

Doctrine and Covenants 29:2- Who will gather his people even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, even as many as will hearken to my voice and humble themselves before me, and call upon me in might prayer. Also see Matthew 23:37.

Sometimes when life gets hard we need to turn to a bigger, taller and greater power (our Heavenly Father) We need to let him show us the way. A big project like your working on your own personal progress in any field might be such an occasion.

Sometimes we might face a lot of opposition from others. I learned a lesson again one day from the bovine creatures.

One day, later in our married life, I walked by the corral. At this time we had both dairy cattle and beef cattle. There were three red and white Hereford bulls in the corral.

They are short and stocky built. They were all eating together from a manger in the middle of the corral. Then, enters the much taller bigger black and white Holstein bull He barges into the corral and begins butting one of the bulls away and into the fence and knocked him down. Then he went to each of the other bulls and did the same. How rude, I thought, feeling pretty sorry for the shorter bulls. Then, it happened. All three red bulls who had been picked on, got together over by the barn door and had a little meeting, then together they charged the bigger black and white Holstein bull and together they pushed him away from the hay and across the corral into the fence. He fell crashing down, breaking the fence and ran away from the scene. Did you ever wonder where the term “bully” came from? I think I saw it first hand.

There is strength in families and good friends. Even in times when you are alone, you can stand up for what is right with angels at your side who are summoned by your prayers.

D&C 84:88- and whoso receiveth you, there will I be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.
Psalms 34:37 the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and deliverth them.

We can find true joy and strength to do what is right by summoning help from God above and trusting in his power, you can do just as Jesus taught and “stand in holy places and be not moooved! “

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