In rural New York State, Peggy Stewart turns to the world of undocumented migrant labor to maintain their dairy farm when her husband, Frank, begins to lose his battle with cancer. Peggy has no choice but to accept a stranger because she has already been duped by American farm laborers who are too often petty criminals and drug addicts.
Through her connection with the milk company, Almarío Santiago Lopez, “Río”, arrives early one morning confronted by Peggy’s fears, prejudices, and scanty Spanish. After an uncertain start getting the cows to accept him, Río rapidly becomes a valued worker and trusted friend to Peggy. She learns a lot about Mexican culture and the shocking realities of migrant life in America when Río’s family members arrive.
Hiring Almarío brings a flood of neighborhood gossip and criticism of Peggy. As she endures the hateful comments, even from Frank who opposes having a Mexican worker, Peggy acquires a new strength of character, self-awareness, and empowerment. Her feelings for Río grow and the realities of her compromised marriage become apparent.
After Frank’s death more problems arise. The cows must be sold to settle the will. Peggy learns of Frank’s prolonged affair with a neighbor. Río announces that he is going back to Mexico.
Peggy and Río grapple with feelings of love and separation as he leaves. Months later, Peggy visits him in Oaxaca, Mexico.