RFQM: Keeping A Family Cow

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Welcome to another Real Food Quote Monday (RFQM). Each Monday, I quote from something I read, and ask you to add your thoughts. This week, I’m quoting from Keeping A Family Cow, currently a very helpful book in my life. I’m grateful to the eCourse members who recommended it to me.

Our Family Cow

What an adventure we’ve had lately! I’ve been alternately euphoric and depressed. Gracie, our new Jersey, gave birth to a heifer calf a little over a week ago. Certain circumstances in our life have shown us God’s mercy, so we named the calf Mercy. Gracie and Mercy. It suits!

This being Gracie’s first time calving, she’s a reluctant milker. She’s got quite a calm temperament, but she’s sore and uncertain and hasn’t yet submitted to being milked. Many times, I would milk and my daughter B. would hold the bucket, but that being so uncomfortable and difficult (Gracie kicks quite a bit) for all of us, we abandoned that.

For two consecutive milkings over the weekend, I could not milk Gracie at all. I’ve been in this position with goats, but goats are smaller and easier to control. (And cleaner, by the way.) I am not a timid milk-maid either, I don’t think. She knows I’m not afraid of her and I chide her in a stern voice when she misbehaves, yet still she exerts her will against me. It is just a matter of time; I know there’s a good girl in there!

Last night and this morning, I milked her out thoroughly even though she kicked dozens of times. I couldn’t keep the bucket under the udder without B.’s help, yet if she held the bucket, I couldn’t adopt a more comfortable milking position for both me and Gracie. This meant I milked into the ground (for shame). Breaks my heart to let that milk go. But I’d rather milk her and keep her production up, than lose future milk because of giving up. One day, she’ll settle into being our family cow, and hopefully this will be sooner rather than later.

When I come inside from the barn — either happy with our progress, or despairing that we’ll never figure this out — I pick up my new copy of Keeping A Family Cow. I wish I could have a good chat with the author, Joann S. Grohman! What a woman. I want to be her someday. :) The book is wonderful. Not only educational, but inspiring and encouraging. I feel so good, no matter how little of the book I can digest at a time. I wish I’d gotten this book a long time ago.

For today’s quote, I’ll share from the beginning of the book.

“The cow is the premier dairy animal because of her cooperative temperament, the comparative ease with which she can be milked, the volume she is able to produce, and because of the versatility of cow’s milk. The cream is easily skimmed and made into much prized butter in cold climates and ghee in hot climates. …

The cow is a primary producer of wealth. She can support a family. She not only turns grass into milk in quantities sufficient to feed a family but also provides extra to sell and she contributes a yearly calf to rear or fatten. The byproducts from cheesemaking (whey) and from butter (buttermilk) will support a pig or two. Her manure improves her pasture and when dug into the garden, results in plant growth that cannot be surpassed by other growth mediums. The family that takes good care of its cow is well off.

The dairy cow doesn’t ask for much but she asks every day. People who are creating wealth with a cow either are hard working and reliable or they get that way in a hurry. This is the way it has been for a very long time. The fine farms of Europe, England, New England and much of the United States were all established thanks to the wealth derived from cows. Wherever there is, or used to be, a big barn it was built to store winter hay for the cows which once dotted the pastures. The need to milk the cow twice a day determined the location of churches; people had to be able to walk there and back without disruption to the schedules of cows. … Important virtues are nurtured on the farm, including a graphic understanding of the relationship between working and eating. Over my farming life I have bred and raised all of the traditional farm animals and I love them all. But through association with the dairy cow I have come to understand and accept the words of that great 19th Century agricultural essayist, William Cobbett: ‘When you have the cow, you have it all.’ “

Now can you see how — even coming in from a miserable milking — I can look forward to the next opportunity I have to work with Gracie? She’s really a wonderful creature, coming near for nuzzles and hay. She loves to be brushed and washed and massaged with castor oil (for her sore udder). Her milk flows (if only I could catch it!). She’s good for us, I know it. We’ll get there!

I know you seasoned milk maids have advice for me, so please do share! I should tell you the things we’ve tried — tying up her tail (she loves to switch me), bending her tail forward (to stop the kicking), a stanchion (yes, we have one), catching her urine and poop (bucket and shovel) to teach her not to do it during milking, and I am hopeful things are improving. Tonight I am going to try milking with one hand and holding the bucket with the other. Or I might try getting one knee more underneath her and holding the bucket between my knees, while I milk with both hands. Update: Since posting this, I have milked twice, one hand milking and the other holding a light-weight bowl, and I have been able to keep all the milk! She’s very sore where her legs rub against her udder and when I milk near there, that seems to be when she kicks the most. Totally understandable, and we’ll get through it.

I found this set of videos on YouTube; I found them very helpful in seeing the correct position of the cow’s legs, and the milker’s position. I’m  dying to get to the point where Gracie stands and doesn’t kick but once or twice a year, as this farmer claims.

What do you think? Do you have advice for me? Have you read Keeping A Family Cow? If you don’t, and are interested in dairying, I highly recommend it!

Have you heard? The next class at GNOWFGLINS eCourse will be on cultured dairy and basic cheesemaking. We’ll begin in late January 2011. I’ve done alot with goat’s milk and am beginning my work translating those techniques and recipes for using cow’s milk (plus adding some). I’m loving this topic, and I’m really looking forward to sharing and learning with all of you!

The book link in this post is an affiliate link to Amazon.com. If you choose to buy the book via my link, I’ll earn a commission. But I don’t care about that too much. The point of this post is for us to share inspirational words. That’s my sincere disclaimer. Thanks for reading.

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


  1. Megan says

    Just wanted to leave a note of encouragement, I have been where you are and it has gotten *so* much better. We share a cow w/ another family member (and the cow is kept on their farm) but the milking is our responsiblity so every time we have to drive to their place and milk. I know exactly how it feels to go clean off a muddy animal in weather so cold that your hands freeze to the milk bucket when you touch it and then as soon as you have 2 gallons of milk in the bucket she steps in it, kicks it over, etc :( I’ve suffered some pretty good bruises to the leg as well. It’s was definitely frustrating in the beginning, but now we have a milk cow that I don’t even lock in the stantion, she waits for me to finish, she steps *around* the bucket if she needs to move, and I can’t even remember the last time she tried to kick anything. And she calved 16 months ago and we are *still* getting milk from her daily! I think mainly it just took some time getting her used to everything so keep that end goal in mind when you feel like you have completely wasted your time milking that day. Hope this helps!

    • says

      Megan — I am SO encouraged. Thank you! She steps around the bucket? That is amazing. How blessed you are! I can’t wait to get there.

      On the bruises, oh, yes! I have got one on my arm. I have no idea how it got there, I don’t remember, but ouch it is big and it hurts. And it is ugly. 😉

      Thank you very much for the encouragement. God bless you!

  2. Heather says

    this isn’t much help now. but years ago I used to work on a dairy farm. fright before new heifers freshened we always brought them into the milking parlor. first just brought them in. then brought them into a stanchion, then turned on the milkers (obviously didn’t use them, just so the would get used to noise) and then would lightly rub their udders so it didn’t freak them out and they would get used to it.. be patient! I”m telling you, I was the only girl working at the time, I had the patience to do it! new moms always were better for me!

    • says

      Heather — That is very helpful! And actually, we did that. Gracie has been massaged and rubbed since she was born. So we hope it is just a matter of time until she settles down again. :) Thanks!

  3. Lintonpair says

    Hey there :-)

    I am sure by now you realise that there is a BIG difference in how you manage a cows udders compared to goats. Many people find that if they go from goat to cow it can be challenging and vice versa. Alot of folks end up stripping their goats udders as they milk them like a cow.

    If you have someone local who hand milks, please get them to come and show you and soon. While youtube vids are a good reference, havign someone on the ground teaching you would be a whole lot better for you, the cow and your bruises. Definately worth the time and effort.

    • says

      Lintonpair — Hey there. :) I’m glad you mentioned that! I am learning that there are big differences. I started with goats, as you know, and I have never stripped a goat anyway, because of stretching and damaging it. I read in Keeping A Family Cow that you are supposed to pull a bit when milking a cow. How much? That’s what would be good to see! The guy in that video up there said not to pull too much, and he showed how not to allow the milk to make a bubble at the end of the teat or it would cause damage. Those are the kind of things I need to hear/see, and why I liked his video. I felt like he cared for the cow’s udder and had the same goals as me. I know I would benefit from seeing someone milk and I would like that very much! In the meantime, I’m grateful for the book I mentioned, and yes, even for my experience milking goats. Thanks for your comment!

  4. RobinP says

    I’m so glad you’re enjoying the book, Wardee! I tell you, it was attached to my arm for months when we got our first cow. It will get better. Being this is her first calf and just freshened, too, she’s got a lot of “new” going on. You’ve gotten good advice. I especially agree with having someone come and show you. We’re so blessed to have a neighbor who was a dairyman for 42 years and has milked cows all his life. It’s like breathing to him, he says. :) He’s been SUCH a help. But keeping her milked out is important, however you get it done, even if the milk goes on the ground…done it many times. You don’t want to end up with mastitis on your hands. If it’s too dirty to keep, give it to the chickens. They love it! Keep us posted!!

    • says

      Yeah, I really should see if I can find someone closer to show me. Someone who can do it like he’s breathing. :) Thanks for your encouragement, Robin!

  5. says

    An anti-kicking strap with velcro has been very helpful for us when our Daisy wasn’t too thrilled with being hand milked. We got it at a farm supply store. It holds the back two legs together enough for her not to kick as high. Daisy never kicks anymore, only lifts her leg a tiny bit when she’s really sore from mastitis. It will most likely get better soon…I hope! We’re about to have the same potential issues with our heifer about to calve. I hope she doesn’t put up a fight!

    • says

      Mistee — I had no idea there were cow hobbles! (We have one for tricky goats.) I thought a cow was too big to even go that route. Hmmm… will keep that in mind. I hope it won’t be necessary. Dairy cows are supposed to be much better than goats in behavior. :)

      I hope your heifer does well for you. Since you’re so experienced at milking cows already, you won’t have the learning curve I do!

      • says

        Hobbles! That’s what they’re called! We could not remember last night, but really wanted to try to help you. :-) Ours was inexpensive, and doesn’t hurt the cow at all and are easy to put on. It really gives you peace of mind when trying to milk a kicky critter. I hope things go well for you. Oh, and I’m learning a lot from your Fundamentals Course. Thank you!

  6. says

    I’m not a milk maid, but I do milk by hand and have a few ideas for you.

    When our family cow freshened for the first time as a heifer, we had some problems with her kicking and moving around so we couldn’t get her milked out completely. She wasn’t used to standing there for long periods (mostly because it took a long time to milk her out at first!) even though we got her used to the stanchion before she calved. We used a “kick-stop” bar over her back, and hooked in front of the leg where we were milking and that seemed to discourage her from trying to kick some. I recommend one of those if you don’t have one (they’re about $20). If she really wanted to, she could kick hard enough to pop the little knobs off the kick-stop, so my brother held it on when she acted up.

    It also really helped us to have the cow pushed up against a wall so she couldn’t wander back and forth while I was milking. I do strap on a one-legged milking stool that saves having to scoot a five gallon bucket around to sit on. It’s just the right height for me too, so it’s more comfortable.

    I don’t know if this is much of a help or not, but the way our stanchion is set up, I milk from the left side. I’m right handed and this leaves my stronger right arm available to block a kick before it hits the bucket. Once you do it for a while, you get to feel her shift her weight and you can predict the kicks. Like everybody else has said before, once you get a routine down, both you and the cow will be much happier! Just keep trying!

    Peter in ND

    • says

      Peter — Thanks! I have seen that contraption in books and wondered really how it worked. I’m so glad you mentioned the left side thing. You see, we’ve had Gracie’s stanchion against the wall (helps so much) AND I’ve been milking on the left side. I thought it put me at a disadvantage (because everyone says to milk on the right side), but the way you put it, I’m glad I’m in this position — because yes, I use my right arm all the time to prevent kicking.

      Now a one-legged stool that straps on? I just can’t picture it. I am using a stool that my son made. I think it is a little high, but it does work. I find myself always having to move it though. :) Thanks so much for your help!

  7. Jenny says

    You CAN talk to the author! She pops up from time to time on her forum http://familycow.proboards.com/

    A $17 kick stop is a very hand tool.

    You can pull and squeeze a LOT harder on a cow than a goat. You are not really strong enough to hurt her teats…still have to watch out for too long nails though.

  8. says

    Hi Wardee baby, congrats on your little mercy! Do you let the baby nurse at all? sometimes that helps the mom get used to the sensation of the milking. When I was a kid, I spent summers visiting a dairy farm and when the farmer was milking the cows if they went to go to urinate or deficate they hunch up their back in the middle. All he did was put his hand firmly ON that spot and push down and they immediately stopped. At my milk club dairy, the have a metal bar across each milking stall with a saw like configuration so when the cow arches up it touches this bar and then stops immediately from going to the bathroom. Also when I learned how to milk it was more of a rolling of the fingers down the udder with a slight tug, like as if you were fanning out money in one hand or trying to snap your fingers using all your fingers but starting with your pinky. The rolling brings the milk down the teat and simulates the calfs tongue licking the side of the nipple to get the milk down, and the tug opens up the glands to express the milk. I agree with the poster who said you should get someone in to milk her with you or go see someone in action. I KNOW you will get it right and be very happy with your beautiful jersey girl! All the best! Alex

    • says

      Alex — Thanks for the tips! We do let the calf nurse whenever she wants. Our strategy is to share milk with her, and let her grow big and strong on mama’s milk. She’s right nearby when we milk Gracie and that’s why I believe Gracie’s milk is always let down. It flows whether she wants it to or not. 😉 Thanks for describing the milking process, you did that so well! I have not heard it done so well. That is actually so similar to the way we milk the goats, except I gather you can add the tug with a cow. :)

  9. says

    Thanks, everyone! I have had two milkings now since posting this. And, they’ve been better. She’s still kicking, but I really think it is because she’s sore. She’s red and raw where her legs brush against the udder, and she does most of her kicking when I’m milking the back quarters.

    On the other hand, I have not lost any more milk, because I’m milking with one hand and holding a lightweight bowl in the other. There’s no way I can hold up our heavy bucket for an hour, but I can hold the bowl. I can’t believe how long it is taking me… between washing/massaging oil into her udder, her shifting position, fending off kicks, and milking out one quarter at a time, I spend an hour with her. I do think we’re making progress. She seemed more content this morning. We’re on the right track, and we’ll get there…

  10. says

    I’ve been there and done that!!! Just last year…seems so long ago…though the soreness in my hands I will ALWAYS remember!! Yes, I read “Keeping a Family Cow” and must admit while the book is good to read, there are some things that are not universal to all situations.

    A BIGGIE for us was her insistence that mastitus will develop if you don’t milk out every time AND that a machine will change the taste of the milk, etc.. DH and I consulted with many people and believe me, there are 2 camps to these theories! Primarily because of this book, I refused to get a milking machine for 2 months!!! Granted this first cow we milked didn’t kick, but her teats were so big that I couldn’t milk for long…my first milking yielded less than a pint for 45 minutes of milking! And I was the best hand milker in the family. It wore me out! DH wanted to spend the money for a machine, and I finally had to give in…I couldn’t do anything else all day long and frequently went back to bed I was sooo tired. We can recommend the place where we got our machine…the compressor is rebuilt so much less expensive than new…just contact me. Long story…short….the machine DID NOT change the taste, quality or bacterial count of our milk (& we tested our milk monthly for a long time to make sure we were doing things right) and it SAVED my hands…and my marriage :) Our first cow LIKED the machine because she was only in the stanchion for 15 minutes instead of an HOUR! So that’s my opinion of the book…good, but there is more than one opinion.

    Second problem…kicking. Our 2nd cow had this big time. Didn’t matter if we milked her by hand or machine. We FINALLY figured out what made her kick…yes, we absolutely CANNOT touch her back legs. I know every cow is different…so keep observing and figuring it out. Sore teats…yes that will do it too. I would highly recommend a product we get at our farm supply store called, “DuraCream” by Durvet. It is not organic (we are organic and grass based) so using this compromises our standards, but we couldn’t find anything better. Rub this on the teats AFTER you milk & after you clean (and teat dip if you do that). It’s just a great cream…in fact I’ve started using it on my hands too. This really helps to soften up the teats and protect them from the cold weather…and from new little mouths nursing :) With regular daily application, this should clear up any cuts or roughness very soon.

    As far as how much do you pull…I tried and tried to do the method Joann describes by squeezing thumb and forefinger first, then the rest of the fingers down the teat. I just can’t do it fast enough. Again, I think there is more than one way. On our big cow that takes my whole hand I just grab, squeeze and pull down all in one motion. After seeing how much suction the machine does when you pull the claws off, I realized the teats can take quite a tug and still not bother our cow. In fact, it seems that the faster I squeeze & pull, alternating hands, the more milk I get. With our smaller mini-Jersey it only takes 2 fingers to milk her tiny teats, so my sons are much better with their smaller hands. In the beginning, yes I also held the pail with one hand and milked with the other, giving the other one a rest. Also, have another clean milk pail close by and frequently stop and pour milk into the clean one that is out of the way of getting dirty and kicked. That way, if she kicks not much is spilled. It also helps to have ANOTHER clean bucket to switch too if the kicked one gets dirty. Of course, this means having another person with you to run back & forth to the house to clean buckets :) We also found it helps tremendously to have a “muck” person…all their job is is to stand with their 5 gal. bucket behind the cow and catch those lovely “fertilizing” opportunities. After a while, the person milking can feel the cow tense up when she’s about to let loose and you swiftly pull the milk pail out of the way of any splatters, have a chance to stand up and stretch your tired muscles :). We also had several milkers so that when person gets tired another takes over. Your whole goal is to actually get milk you can drink and not have it take all morning :)

    An anti-kicking device that is very simple and helped us somewhat…get a long piece of rope and tie it around the belly of the cow going just forward of the udder. Tie it TIGHT!!! The muscle used to kick comes in right there at the side, and when the rope is tight enough it will slow down the kicking and decrease the intensity. We found it didn’t stop the kicking, but it gave us a chance to get out of the way. BE sure and tie it with a slip knot on the top or side so that when you are finished milking you can quickly untie it and release her from the stanchion.

    Another hint…when you are milking, keep your arm up against the back leg of the cow (if she will tolerate it). Same principle applies about walking closely behind a horse…you are so close they can’t get any distance to get strength in the kick. Your arm up against the back leg diminishes her strength AND you get a split-second warning when a kick is coming. Of course, this only works on the leg closest to you.

    Have you tried milking from the other side…or even the back? We purchased cows, not heifers, and they were used to being milked on their left side…totally opposite of what most people do. Also, cows have a much harder time, if not impossible, to kick backwards.

    Tail switching…just gotta love them :) Be sure you don’t have flies bothering her…that will make her switch. She’s just showing her annoyance…face it it’s the only part of her she can really move :)

    Another helpful hint we had to be strongly urged to do…..you probably feel very strongly about being totally grass-based…like we are. However, during milking they need something to eat. Another like-minded farmer told us to get “sweet feed” …a mixture of molasses with a little bit of corn. He says it’s like eating a salad all day long on the pasture, but at milking you get ice cream…something really tasty. They will stand much more willingly with something to munch on. We mix sweet feed with alfafa pellets or just alfafa when we can afford to buy it. We keep their feed bucket full and as long as they are in the stanchion, they can eat as much as they want. I have been assured that while it looks like alot, it is small compared to the amount they eat in one day.

    Milking your first cow…sounds like such a dream until reality hits in that first day! It does get better….much, much better :) Even our “kicker” cow doesn’t kick anymore. The milk and cream and butter IS worth it. We’ve had our 2 cows about a year and a half now…and it gets better all the time.

    • says

      Sherri — Wow! Thanks for all your advice. I’m really glad to learn from your experience. It sounds to me like your cow has much bigger teats than ours. Gracie is kind of like a goat at this point. I use two finger and my thumb only to milk here. The teats are getting longer through this process, but I doubt they’ll get as big as your cows’. :) I think we’ve pretty much been doing much of what you advised (except for milking from the back or the other side). My arm gets a workout preventing her kicks, and pouring out the milk more frequently — even having the “muck” person available. B. and C. get that job. I’m so thankful because Gracie goes to the bathroom several times during each milking! (Goats never do that.) Anyway, we’re getting there. thanks for sharing from your experience!

  11. says

    “She not only turns grass into milk in quantities sufficient to feed a family”

    What a beautiful sentiment! And a way to make that obligatory suburban grass work for you! :) I want a cow too, but I’m intimidated by such a large animal. I’m hoping for chickens first,a nd then a goat or two for dairy.

    • says

      Herbwifemama — I am SO happy that I milked goats first. I cannot underestimate how important that was for ME (perhaps it won’t be for others). I am not an animal person, and just having had the confidence building experience of handling goats meant the step up to a cow was not so overhwelming. We all have to start somewhere, and I think small steps are best in most cases! Having said that, there’s something to be said for jumping right in, too. :)

  12. says

    After having my milk bucket stepped in a few times, I now hold the bucket between my legs(feet together, knees apart and the bucket sits in the V). I get her to put her leg back, I get my milk stool(my tool box) as close to her as I can and get almost underneath her. I put my head against her flank and my right arm touches her leg. With my head and arm where they are, I can feel her move and she can’t kick or put her foot in the bucket. Wish I had pictures to show. I rely on feel rather than sight when milking. When I am sitting this way I can milk two sections at a time rather than just one. Goes much faster. There are times she moves around and we have to adjust, she really just get impatient because I am taking too long. Some good alfalfa in her box does the trick too. She still has this years calf (born March of 2010). When the calf was smaller I would let her in on the opposite side and milk while she was nursing. Mama would let down much easier and milking would go faster. Now that she is bigger and shoves a bit more I make her wait her turn.
    I give her some oats, barley, wheat, and field peas when milking. NO CORN, corn breeds e.coli and you don’t want that, especially if you are drinking the milk raw.
    I hope that it is getting better. We *think* our cow is going to calf in Feb. but are unsure. Hopefully she does and then we will have even more milk. I have a request from a local shop for cheese. When we first got her it took me some time to get use to milking and her supply really dropped, we get a half gallon a day which gives us enough for our family but no extra.

    • says

      Megan, thanks for this advice! I did what you said the last two days, and it is working. She still kicks, more like swatting at a fly. I am able to control her with my arm and leg and more importantly — I can milk with both hands! Ah. Half the time for both of us. We’re getting there…

    • says

      Marg — Well, we are still having a tough time. She’s stubborn! Every once in awhile she’s good. On the whole I think we’re improving, which is hard for me to say today because this morning she was the worst ever. I really can’t tell you what her problem is — we’ve tried everything. She should have learned by now. We’re not feeding her during milking because food tends to maker her act like this: “Leave me alone, I’m EATING!” After 5+ months, we weaned the calf because she still would not let down all her milk for us. We try to keep the environment peaceful. We tap her legs when she moves around to teach her not to move. (She likes to close up her legs to block access to the udder.) We raise our voices when she moves (because a cow really desires peace and will learn to please to avoid a raised voice).

      She really should know better by now. So she’s either not very bright or stubborn. I think it is the latter. 😉

      B. and I are sharing the milking. B. just started a few days ago because I thought Gracie was finally well behaved enough. B. is handling her GREAT, even better than me probably. In fact, after 5 straight milkings with B., I went to milk Gracie this morning and it was like she was rejecting me and wanted B.. Brought B. out and she did behave better (though not perfect). She’s a stinker! 😉 We milk with the bucket between our knees (like Megan suggested above) and that gives us great control over her. Much more control than if we were reaching in from alongside. So I like that even though it was scary at first. I might always milk this way!

      Not to discourage you! From everything I’ve read, ours is a strange case — most cows settle in much more quickly, like within a few days. I have a feeling everything will go much better for you! :)

      • Marg says

        Oh Wardee, I’m sorry you’re still having difficulties. The cow we are getting is on her 4th lactation (6 yrs old?) but not used to being hand milked. I’ve got a friend coming to show me how its done.

  13. says

    I haven’t tried this but, Carla Emery suggests holding the cows tail up (at the base of the tail) because cows will not kick with their tail extended up.

    I am so thankful for your other comments, they have been helpful to me as a new cow owner after only milking goats.


  14. Dani says

    Wardee, what a tumultuous year this has been for you! I just read your other post, “All I really need to know I learned from milking a cow,” and the tears simply will not stop, as the words strongly convicted me. However, as I go back and read this post again, I see that it’s been a year since you were first learning the ropes. And now, you’re such an “old hand” at it, that you’re doing guest posts over at Nourishing Days on why having a cow might be better than having a goat.
    Your stories brought to mind a few precious verses:
    Heb 10:36 (NRSV) For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
    Eccl 7:8 (NRSV) Better is the end of a thing than its beginning; the patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit.
    Bless you for staying committed, and sharing so honestly from your heart!

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