My Fantastic Beasts

As a farmer and an animal lover I have always loved or felt a very strong connection to movies and books involving animals. How to Train Your Dragon is an example, but since it’s release in I believe 2017, the Harry Potter prequel movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has been my absolute favorite movie of all time.

For those who don’t know, the movie focuses on a wizard, Newt Scamander, and his adventures in NYC with his magical case full of creatures. From the moment I first saw the movie I have felt extremely connected to Newt as a character. And this has to do with both his personality and his animals. As a person I consider myself a bit of a loner sometimes, and also extremely socially awkward all the time, and many times I find it much easier to be with my animals than with humans. That’s not to say I don’t have any friends or I never talk, I’ve gotten much better at that over the years. But I’m still and probably always will be an extremely awkward person. And the same can be said about Newt Scamander.

But more important are the animals in the movie, and also the connection that Newt has to them. Throughout the movie the love and care Newt has for his creatures is obvious, especially in the moments where they make it obvious that owning and breeding the creatures is illegal in the movie. There is nothing that Newt wouldn’t do for his creatures, which can be seen for viewers after about ten minutes into the movie and throughout the rest of it.

So how does this connect to me? Well to begin, since my grandpa’s day, my family has owned a dairy farm. I bet most people could’ve guessed that by the title of my blog being called A Dairy Farmer’s Truth. For a long time it was my grandpa and my dad working on the farm with the help of our neighbors and my aunt and sometimes me and my sister. But for a very long time, I had no interest in working on the farm myself. In fact when I was younger I wanted a horse, and I even took riding lessons for a while. But then, I can’t completely explain what connected in my brain, but in 2012 when we were doing our yearly visit to the county fair, I saw a breed of dairy cow called Linebacks. Everything changed after that.

It wasn’t long after that when I had my own lineback, Katy, and I began to show cows at the fair. These days I have what my family calls my own herd among our actual herd, which is mostly Holstein, or the black and white cows. This was about eight years ago now.

About a year after Katy, more things began to happen. I lost my first cow, a Jersey named Hazelnut, and at the same time, my mom temporarily lost her job. During this time she had also began to develop and interest in alpacas. She learned more about them during this time without a job, and by 2014 we had seven alpacas and an alpaca farm in what used to be our backyard. Only a few months in, everything was still a learning process, and we lost one of our boys to something called a menengial worm, which is commonly spread through snails and slugs spread through deer poop. And since our house sits across the road from the woods, deer an a very common sight around here.

That being said, good things always tend to follow the bad, especially in farming, from what I’ve experienced. Just last year we almost lost our remaining two boys to the same worm, but with luck, and the will of God, we were able to save them. If we hadn’t lost Prince back in 2015, we probably would have no more boys today.

Another thing we learned concerning this was that ducks eat the snails and slugs that cause the menengial worm. So last year during March we got ourselves four ducks. This in itself was and still is another learning experience. We found ourselves learning how to incubate eggs, and the difference between types of eggs. And then a few months ago, we learned that we also had hawks around here, and that hawks like to get ducks. I bet you can guess what happened next. So, this next March we plan on getting more, but only after we do some work and building out in the alpaca field to protect them from hawks.

Other animals we have include cats and dogs both inside and outside the house. And also for a little while, back before I got into dairy cows my sister and I each had a rabbit that we took care of. A few years ago my sister’s died of old age, and we got another one at a different county fair than the one that I show cows in. We were assured by the owners that the one we bought was a boy, to go with the other boy that I had back at home. This it turns out, was not true. So at one point the rabbits bit a hole through the divider in the middle, and a little while later we had baby rabbits. We eventually ended up with ten. This was a few years ago now, and many have died of old age, so we are now down to three, which is still more than we started with. And after the events of the last few weeks and months, which include my dad getting diagnosed with congestive heart failure and having a defibrillator put in a few weeks ago, and my grandpa dislocating his hip for the third time on Christmas, I have become the only one with time to take care of the rabbits anymore. So just a few days ago I decided that I guess they were now my rabbits.

As you can tell I have about as many creatures as Newt Scamander. And like he does in the movie, I take care of and love them with all of my heart. Another similarity I find that also connects me to this story so much is the amount of people in the movie that don’t understand his creatures and are trying to get rid of them. This reminds me of the millions of times I have done my best to educate people on farming through social media and this blog. Indeed Newt writes a book on how the creatures should be protected and not killed. I myself have written a small book on my life on the farm with all of my creatures, which I self published, but I hope to maybe refine and publish through a bigger, actual publisher in the future. There are also a few things that Newt says in the movie along the lines of trying to educate other wizards about his creatures and protect them from humans, who are as he says, “the most dangerous creature on the planet”. I couldn’t agree with that statement more.

But protecting animals from humans really comes in farming. I have tried many times to educate people on my animals and my farms on social media and this blog all the time. There are many bad ideas and stereotypes about farming out there everywhere that people got into their heads by being uneducated. Those ideas include; shearing alpacas hurts them, when in reality it is just like getting a haircut and keeps them from overheating in the summer, moving dairy calves away from their mothers is cruel and that they cry for each other, when in reality 99% of the time the mother cows don’t even know what happened and won’t even give their newborn calves a second look, and moving the calf away is for the protection of all parties involved. Also more recently I have heard that artificial insemination is supposedly rape, which is not correct at all in that cows and animals have no concept of consent, and also go about reproduction in much different ways than humans. In fact every three weeks cows will come in heat, meaning their bodies are screaming at them to reproduce, and they will jump on anything they can, including humans or other cows. AI is the best way to calm this process and to protect the herd. In fact one of my cows in my herd had a back problem a few years back because of being jumped on like that and had to stay inside during the summer for a bit. There is also one more idea that agriculture is the biggest factor in climate change and is what everyone needs to be cutting down on and getting rid of. And I can see that maybe in large scale agriculture there is some things that maybe could be done more efficiently, but there are so many other things in cities and just in general that could be done that would dramatically reduce climate change more than getting rid of farming ever could.

What a lot of people don’t realize is how much farming is important for every day lives of humans, and also how much farmers take care of an love their animals. And that goes for every single one that I discussed above. Of course there are bad people in every bunch, and that’s most likely where the bad ideas come from in the first place. Which is why my 2020 resolution is to continue and work more on educating people about farming and all of my animals. I can’t call it my New Year’s Resolution because I didn’t really think of it until yesterday, and also putting it in that category will more likely make me forget. But education in everything is important, especially in farming. Which is why if you’ve read this and stayed with me up to this point I encourage you to comment on here or read and comment any of my other posts with questions you may have. I will gladly have civilized conversations with anyone and would love to spread my knowledge into the world to work on giving farming a better name. Farming is important, and animals are taken care of and loved 99.99% of the time. Without it, all of these animals would be lost, and like it or not most likely so would the human race. Farming isn’t going anywhere, but most likely neither are the people who spread rumors and refuse to understand it. Which is why I will never stop trying to educate people.

2018

As we have arrived at the last day of 2018, we have reached the day where people take time to reflect back on the year they had. My year has been a mix of good and bad; a lot more bad then I would’ve liked. The bad go something like this: my dog died, Flopsy the barn cat died, Eclipse died (see previous blog posts), my cat died, the events of September happened that everyone in my town and surrounding communities know about (once again see previous post), both of my grandmas fell and ended up in the hospital, and a friend of mine that I made last semester died of cancer.

Now the good things; my new dog, Dickens came, then our new cat, Mannix came. Our other cat got really depressed but she stayed around and got happier when the two new kids came. I finished my second semester of my freshman year, and my first semester of sophomore year. I joined my college newspaper, I started this blog, I met so many great new people and made many new friends. I published my first (and second) book. My grandmas recovered. Lunar Eclipse was born. I have two Jersey calves coming any day now.

Altogether the good definitely outnumber the bad, even though there were times in these last few months that it felt like the bad would never end. And of course there were some things that don’t fit in either category and are more nostalgic, my last year at the fair and two of my friends from the last five or six years moved to Michigan and onto a new future.

So here we are at the end of what was probably the weirdest year of my life. Things are looking up all the time and I feel more ready to move into the new year and the next semester of my college experience than I have in a long time. I probably felt the same at the beginning of this last year. It’s typical for one to say something like bring it on when going into a new year, and I probably did around this time last year. All I’m gonna say to 2019 is please be nice to me, and don’t be so weird. Into the next year we go.

Chautauqua County Fair 2018 Day 8: Sunday Again, The Final Day

“So here we are. You and me, on the last page.” -Doctor Who

Obviously this isn’t actually the last page, but today was the last day of the fair and my last day ever. So of course after seven years this was gut wrenching if not heartbreaking. I told myself I wouldn’t cry today, but it came out more than once. And even though I’m sitting here cleaner than I’ve been all week and super relieved to be home I’m gonna miss it terribly.

It probably didn’t help that I’m still currently running on two and a half hours of sleep and have been all day not counting the small nap I had. Now you’re all probably wondering why I only had two and a half hours of sleep. Well there’s this little annual last fair night thing known as prank night. It was my first time ever participating, and even though I’m tired I’m super glad I did. We didn’t do anything terrible, just fun, stupid stuff like stacking garbage cans. I’ll always be able to say that prank night is and forever will be my last night adventure of the fair and it’s a night I will never forget and will tell my children about in the future. It was a great night, and a great week, and an amazing last fair. It was probably the perfect fair week of the seven I’ve had, and I will always be glad that though my last week is super sad it was amazing and full of only good and great things and people. So now it is time to put to rest and say rest in peace to the Chautauqua County Fair 2018 and my 4-H Dairy Program career.

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” -Andy Bernard, The Office

Chautauqua County Fair 2018 Day 7: Saturday

Well as I sit here and write this it is finally the last night of the week. I was very tempted to walk around singing “Last Midnight” from Into the Woods but I didn’t think anyone would get it, so I restrained myself. It still hasn’t really seemed to hit me yet that when I go home tomorrow I will never show cows with 4-H or sleep in this barn again. It could be because I’m not really gonna let it until Monday, or try to anyway, we’ll see what happens tomorrow. It’s probably just cause I’m tired and ready to go home. There’s also the fact that one can never really know what the future will bring, and I could very well come back and show in the Open Class again. And be back to visit like every year until I no longer know anyone here.

So events of the day; there was a Holstein show and a fun show in the arena which we watched for a bit. Then we played a few games on the Midway and I won a pig, a cow, and a Gizmo, (the one from Gremlins for those who don’t know what that is). The showers were clogged for a bit but they’re fixed now I think. There was also the last big meeting of the week and I had to go up and be recognized for aging out. And then we had the barnyard olympics for the kids which actually went pretty well and wasn’t a huge mess for the first time in three years. I also got to give a kid a prize for being the most enthusiastic first year which was kind of fun.

Well with that we head into the final night of the fair and into my final day of my final year in the 4-H Dairy Program.

Chautauqua County Fair 2018 Day 6: Friday

Today was what one might call “work yourself to death in the snack bar day”. I’m just kidding, it’s really not that bad. It does make you super tired by the time you’re done with your two hours. And then they come to you in the afternoon and ask you to come back because they need help and you feel bad if you say no so you go back for another hour. And then all of a sudden the day is done and you’re sitting in the barn at night blogging once again.

The one other thing that really happened today was a guy come and asked about milk and calves and when cows come in heat. It sounded like he had a beef barn and was thinking about adding in dairy which I thought was interesting. But anyway, now it’s on to the last two nights and a day and a halfish until we all go home and get some sleep (which I need desperately).

Chautauqua County Fair 2018 Day 5: Thursday

The 4-H show didn’t bring me any big ribbons like yesterday, but it did get me 5 out of 7 in the showmanship section which is possibly the best I’ve ever done in showmanship. It was also just a better showing day for my cows, maybe not prize wise but both Charlie and Sammy walked so much better than yesterday. In fact Sammy might’ve even walked better for me than she has in months! That is the biggest thing for today.

Of course with being one of the oldest kids here I was in the first showmanship section so I didn’t have the time to take my nap in the camper that I usually do in the morning. That being said after the show I crashed and took a nap in my chair which my mom then thought it would be fun to take a picture of and put on Facebook (thanks Mom, haha). I played that game fir a little bit at the picnic table with my friends again. We also did a drawing contest and I got to hold a little girl’s unicorn for a bit (a stuffed one obviously). And that was pretty much my day. It’s really hard to believe that including tonight there’s only three nights left…

Wow that night got crazy in the middle of me writing this, so much so that it is now like 11:30 am right now as I finish this. I’m not really sure if I’m allowed to tell details so I won’t and I’ll just leave off with life is weird, especially during fair week and you never know what might happen.

Chautauqua County Fair Day 4: Wednesday

Well I’m still not sure really if it’s a good thing or bad thing that today was my last ever Open Class show. I mean I don’t really know that about this fair week in general. I do know that I am super tired and I am definitely ready to be able to sleep at ten o’clock or before if I want to.

But anyway today was what one might call a pretty successful showing day. The one goal I decided to have for this week was for my Jersey calf, Hazel, who happens to be the granddaughter of Eclipse who died a week and a half ago exactly, to beat at least one cow in her class. Mainly because with my Jerseys this has only happened I think once before in my seven years at the fair. This also happens to be exactly what happened so I decided right then and there that no matter what my other cows got, I got what I wanted for the week.

But I didn’t really need to worry about that. Sammy was the only one in her class so she got first in her class and Rory got third out of three in her class but neither of them did anything more than that. This is okay though because they still get the ribbons to hang above them for the rest of the week and we’re still able to say they got first and third.

And then there was my Milking Shorthorn, Charlie. She definitely didn’t walk her best today, so much so that the judge even noticed and said she wasn’t doing herself justice. Even with that he still liked her and Charlie ended up winning Reserve Junior Champion. I have to admit I was a bit surprised because I thought some of the others looked better than her, but hey I’m not complaining, and I don’t really know all that much about judging anyway. This is also the second Reserve Champion I ever got that wasn’t simply given because there was only one or two of the breed at the fair. And the last time just happened to be Annabeth, otherwise known as Charlie’s mother, and this was four years ago.

So even though Charlie didn’t walk as good as I would’ve liked and I’m now debating whether or not to use her for showmanship tomorrow like I had originally planned, it was still a great day. I also spent part of my evening playing Uno and a game called Flinch with one of my favorite fellow fair families/friends ever which I enjoyed a lot. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow with my last 4-H show ever will bring me.

Chautauqua County Fair 2018 Day 3: Tuesday

I’ve always thought the first few days of the fair dragged on forever but here we are already at the end of day three. We survived last night’s rainstorm and the heat and humidity went away, making today altogether much more comfortable than the last two. My mom and I found frozen bananas on the Midway at lunch time and according to her they were pretty good, but with me never being a big fan of bananas I ended up with some sort of peanut sundae instead. Also today I had to help tell the younger kids a few things about showmanship and I really had no idea what I was talking about but hopefully I didn’t sound like it.

There was the annual Tuesday dairy barn potluck dinner today and I got to watch and sort of help judge one of my friend’s presentations about the difference between A1 and A2 milk and which cows give which type. So that was fun to see. And now all that’s left for today is normal nightly things like collecting cans (eventually) and going to sleep at midnight with hopefully waking up at 5:30 ish with enough energy to do our first show of the week in the morning, without much nap time beforehand. It will also be my last time ever showing cows in the Open Class show at this fair. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

Chautauqua County Fair Day 2: Monday

Well there’s always one constant thing you can say about the fair and that is that no two days are alike. One moment it’ll be sunny and humid and you’ll be super busy and the next it’ll be pouring down rain and you’re sitting around with absolutely nothing to do but play Solitaire and Mahjong on your phone. Oh wait, only one constant? There are a few more. Like the fact that you will always be tired but a nap in the camper on the couch always helps. But what is probably the most important constant is that whether it’s helping to put up the recycle bins for the cans or getting out to the wash rack or sometimes even just walking up to the bathroom there’s always a new adventure to be had. And sometimes days you thought were going to be super boring (like today) can turn out to give you plenty of things to do until at least noon. There’s nothing really specific I have to write about for today except for that it was a bit less boring than I expected and that I got to take two showers because I walked through the rainstorm for a bit, so I guess we’re gonna call day number two a closed one now too.

Chautauqua County Fair 2018 Day 1: Sunday

For the next few days I will be posting about the Chautauqua County Fair that I went to for the last time last week and just got home from yesterday. I wrote all of these down in a notebook every night throughout the week with a few stories or summaries of events that happened each day. We begin on Sunday, which was day one and move in day…

Move in day has got to be one of the longest days of the entire week. It doesn’t help when the humidity is up and it’s like eighty-five degrees out before the trailer is even hooked up to the truck, making you already tired before you’re even up until midnight helping to take care of the barn. With that along with setting up your own stall and making sure all your cows are comfortable while also participating in two normal, annual, first day meetings along with making sure everyone has enough stall cards for each animal that gives their names, birthday and breed along with other general information about them, and making sure people don’t need help with other things, it shapes up to be a pretty full first day when you’re a Junior Superintendent. Proof of this also is the fact that this is originally being written in a notebook, sitting at a picnic table at the front of the barn at 10:52 at night.

There’s always something kind of peaceful about sitting in this barn at night. I’m not sure if it’s the quiet or lack of people or just the fact that the day is pretty much over and I get to sleep soon but I always enjoy night at the fair. There’s those things and also the fact that all the rides turn on and light up at night.

And with that basic summary of my day and my thoughts while I sit and write this, it is about the time to draw my last ever first day at the fair showing cows and being a Junior Superintendent with the 4-H Dairy Program to a close.