Sitting in my office in downtown Boston I stared out the frosted glass and dreamt of Italy. A small farm filled with animals wandering in green pastures, clucking at my heels, waiting eagerly to have grain and hay thrown into their troughs. One more month, and I would be volunteering on a small organic dairy farm nestled in the pristine Italian countryside.
While I had been a vegetarian for five years at that point, I loved cheese, and the idea of being as close to the source as possible was enticing. I wanted to know where my food came from, to be part of its growth and life. What could be more idyllic than to live my life by the chimes of the church bell and oscillating calls of impatient cows?
When I first arrived, the farm was everything I had hoped for. Each morning I awoke to the church bells I had dreamed of. After a classic European breakfast, complete with fresh milk, I trudged up the hill to clean out the cow and goat stalls, and feed the chickens. Then, if the weather suited, I would go for a walk in the woods with the goats, or down to the pasture with the cows. It was serene.
The story I truly want to tell you though is about one cow in particular, a cow to whom I owe a great deal: