This month we are featuring an interview with Gene Baur (program #3545, Farm Sanctuary: The Happiest Place On Earth), co-founder of The Farm Sanctuary. The time spent with Gene reminded me of this lovely story that was shared with me by a dear friend.
Tom had a prize-winning goat he called Sadie. Apparently she gave the finest milk in abundance. Another farmer got wind of this and asked Tom if he could borrow her for a time. It was agreed that Sadie would make a guest appearance at the other dairy farm.
A young milker who had worked at several dairies in the area was pleased to see his old friend Sadie once more, and she lived up to her reputation by giving a plentitude of premium quality milk. When the milker finished with Sadie he’d untie her so she could leave the barn and he would move to the next goat. One day the farmer came to the milker totally exasperated and asked, “What is it with that goat?” Apparently, when the farmer milked Sadie, she would stand inside the barn door and refuse to leave with the other goats. It was only with a great deal of cajoling, pushing and pulling that the farmer could get her out of the barn.
Listening to the farmer’s lament, the milker, who knew Sadie from when he worked with her at Tom’s dairy, told the farmer that he knew how to get Sadie out of the barn. He demonstrated by kneeling down next to the obstinate goat, putting his arms around her neck, and giving her a big kiss followed by the words, “Sadie, you did a terrific job.” With that ritual completed, Sadie walked out the barn door with what I imagine was a smile on her face. The milker turned to the farmer and explained, “If you are going to borrow one of Tom’s goats, you’ll have to treat her the way Tom treats her.”
I love this story. How wise that goat was. Giving milk may be strictly business to some, but to Sadie it was more; it involved a relationship of respect, cooperation, and even love between her and her human caregivers. She was like some grand dame who had a deep understanding that life is about more than the giving and taking of milk. It is about relationship, tenderness, appreciation, hugs and kisses, taking a moment to receive and give praise, and being told every day, “You did a terrific job.”
When was the last time you told someone they did a terrific job? When has someone said it to you? In our relationships with our colleagues at work, our family at home, and everyone else, let us remember to pause often in our daily dealings to tell each other, “You did a terrific job.”
Excerpted from Small Pleasures: Finding Grace in a Chaotic World
by Justine Willis Toms