Debra Martin believes in the power of prayer.
She believes if you pray for something you want and God thinks it’s something you need, you will get it.
But, for a long time, it seemed as if what Debra wanted and what God thought she needed weren’t one and the same.
Debra was certain not many folks were praying for a cow. She had her heart so set on one. Although she didn’t question God’s wisdom in holding back on her, but she kept praying.
Debra laughed when she talked about nudging God along.
"I didn’t want Him to forget," she said. "So, I kept praying and praying, but I didn’t tell anybody I was praying for a milk cow. It was just between me and God."
Debra said she didn’t know why the desire was put in her mind and on her heart for a milk cow.
"When I was growing up, we had cows and somehow, I reckon, I just fell in love with them. When I got all grown up, I wanted a milk cow of my own and I prayed for one," she said.
The cow Debra had prayed for was slow in coming. So, she decided maybe God wanted her to be more involved in the "getting of it." She heard about a beautiful Jersey cow going to be sold at auction down around Brewton.
"I went and I had money in my pocket and I was going to bid what it took," Debra said. "Oh, it was about the prettiest cow I’d ever seen. She had a bag that would fill a five-gallon bucket. I was ready to empty my pocket to get her."
Debra was on cloud nine waiting for the bidding to start on the prettiest cow in the world, but a friend brought her back down to earth with a soft thud.
"My friend, Rhett, said that cow was out of my league. I told him she might be out of my league, but she wasn’t out of God’s league," Debra said.
But bidding on the prettiest cow in the world quickly soared to $1,200.
Debra was not blessed with a deep pocket and no manna fell from heaven. That pretty cow was not going home with Debra to McKenzie.
But Debra believes when God shuts one barn door, He opens another.
And, almost before another prayer could be lifted, a gate swung wide on its hinges.
Ernest Odem came over to Debra and said he didn’t know she was looking for a milk cow.
"Ernest knew a man who had five cows he wanted to get rid of," Debra said. "Several of them had heifer calves, but they weren’t broke to milking. Well, I knew I could do that."
Debra went cow shopping and got the "pick of the litter," so to speak.
"I knew right off which one I wanted," Debra said. "She had the softest, sweetest face I’d ever seen. I named her Daisy and I loved her from the start."
Now, all the time, Debra had been praying and planning, she had a purpose in mind greater than filling her refrigerator with the goodness of "sweet" milk and homemade butter.
She wanted to pass along her knowledge about where milk comes from and her love of and appreciation for the animal that produces it.
"So many people these days don’t have any idea about where their food comes from. They certainly don’t know the first thing about milking a cow and they need to know," Debra said. "I wanted to tell them and show them."
After Daisy got "broke to milking," she and Debra started taking their show on the road.
"We started going to nursing homes. Most of the people there knew about milking cows and it brought back a lot of memories," she said. "They loved seeing Daisy. And, we started going to schools, churches and festivals. We went to the first Farm Day in Greenville and we’ve been going ever since, telling people and showing them about milk cows.
"Children are real curious about Daisy and about milking. I tell them about her udder, about her having two stomachs and about the milk glands. If they want to try, I let them milk her. When we get done, they know where milk comes from."
And Debra hopes the children also went away from the experience having been nibbled by the same love bug that bit her as a child.
She knows probably none of them will ever sit by a cow to fill their milk glasses, but she does hope they will better understand where their milk comes from and, at least, have an affection for the animal that produces it.
Daisy lives at Debra’s farm near McKenzie. Daisy has lots of animal pals, including Elijah, a Percheron Debra is training to pull "something;" Boaz, the turkey gobbler; a "waller" of pigs; a miniature horse; more chickens and rabbits than you can shake a stick at. But her best friend is the one who loves her most, a lady named Debra Martin.
Debra continues to believe in prayer. She believes if you want something and God thinks you need it, you will get it.
She, laughingly, said she is now praying for a barn for Daisy.
"Daisy is eight years old," she said. "She should live to be 20 years old or older, so I’ve got a long time with my baby. She gave me a Jersey heifer this year. I named her Mary and I love her, too. Daisy needs a barn and I believe she’ll get it."
Debra is confident in her prayers. She’s even got the poles for the barn so she’s ready to get started when God provides a way for her prayers to be answered.
Jaine Treadwell is a freelance writer from Brundidge.