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.

What it Means to Me/My Story Part 3

Yesterday I ended with my first year as a Junior Superintendent so today I’m going to begin with a few stories of what happened that year. First off one of our main Junior Superintendent duties is/was collecting cans at nighttime when the fair was shutting down. One of these nights we had a man go running past us yelling “curse this fatness!” It was super random and funny so I still remember it. Other things that happened that year is that there was a long power outage that lasted pretty much all night and there was a fight on the midway causing us to lock down the barn for a while. So yeah, that was an interesting year.

Moving on to after the fair, it came time for Acorn to have her baby. Of course not having any major problems before this I was very excited. But what I didn’t know at the time was that the one we bred her to was related to her, because the other farmers weren’t very organized when it came to that. The baby was born dead, and a few weeks later Acorn was gone too. It was three years after Hazelnut, and since Acorn came to help me with dealing with that and it being my second time something like this happened it almost hurt worse this time.

Back a few months before that we got another Lineback cow at the same auction we got Annabeth from and we named this one Holly. Also during this year Annabeth had her first calf that we named Rey and Eclipse had her second baby that we named Neptune. Along with those three my sister decided that year to claim a Holstein and have me show her at the fair which she named Noel. A few months after she was born she got bloated which farmers can always fix by having the calf swallow dawn dish soap and with Noel being the first one I’d ever seen that happen to, from that day on her name became Bubbles. If that name sounds familiar it’s because a few posts ago I had the large Mishaps and Mayhem post that was mostly about her, especially since she almost broke my ankle. That fair year the most exciting thing was that Holly got Reserve Grand Champion Lineback in both shows, mainly because there was only two Linebacks that year but either way it was cool. I really don’t know how many posts this is going to turn into but it keeps getting really long and I guess I am going through seven years of my life so I guess that’s what happens.

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 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.

On Shows

Well this is my last blog before the fair, so I decided to just talk a bit about showing and what exactly the shows entail. There are two shows for the dairy program, the 4-H show and the Open Class show. Every year the shows are always Wednesday and Thursday during the week, and the first few days before that always seem super slow and boring, but then the show days come and all of a sudden the week is over. But anyway, both days the shows start at nine o’clock in the morning and most of the time go to about three o’clock ish in the afternoon.

The Open Class show goes by age class (I think but I might be mixing the shows up????). This means that the calves, heifers and cows that are in the same age group get shown around the same time. It still goes by breeds, starting with Holstein, then Jerseys, and goes on after that, but once it gets to the end of the age group it goes on to the next age.

Now the 4-H show starts with showmanship. Showmanship is when a kid picks one of their best cows that are around a good size for them and then they get judged on how well they show them. Then after that at about 11 it goes into the rest of the 4-H show, which this time goes by breeds, so it goes through all of the Holsteins and then all of the Jerseys, etc. etc.

It’s kind of hard to describe it in words, which you’d think after this long it would be for me but oh well. So like I said this is probably my last post before the fair and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to blog during it. It all depends on if I can make it work on my phone or not, and also the amount of time I have. But if I don’t have time, I’ll make sure I write down posts in a notebook or something and the week after it’ll be posts about the fair the whole time.

On Clipping

Probably the most important thing a 4-H kid has to do the week ahead of the fair is to clip their cows. It may seem like a funny thing to do to others, but it helps the cows to look better and to be able to be shown off better. Besides it making them look pretty it also helps to keep them cooler during the fair week when it is not always the most comfortable temperatures.

Despite it sounding simple, it’s actually a lot of work. Kids most of the time need their own set of clippers, big ones and small ones, and they need a good spot to keep the hair away from the food and water of the other cows. One has to make sure they keep the hair in a straight line once it gets to the top so they can do the topline later at the fair, (story for another time). There’s also clipping the legs with the extra bones you have to be really careful to not hurt the cows. Most of the time the legs are just do what you can when it comes to clipping. We also have to clip the tail which I always find interesting because someone I guess decided we had to leave about a fist length of hair before the switch (the bottom of the tail) and all the hair up to the hips on the tail gets clipped. The head also gets clipped, and others might be able to get it pretty much fully, but like the legs most of the time it’s just do what you can.

So that’s what my job is for the next few days. There are other things to do decoration wise and stuff to be done before Sunday when we move down to the fairgrounds and I might talk a bit about that later in the week. The fair is coming super fast and though it is my last one as always I’m ready and excited.

On Washing

When it comes to approximately two weeks before the county fair, as it is this week for me, the two most important things to do are to wash the cows and to clip them. Washing always has to go first in order to get as much dirt off of them as possible. This makes the clipping step easier in order to not break or damage the clippers or to hurt the cow.

Washing is pretty much one of the easier things to do in getting ready for the fair. The only major things needed are a bucket of water, a hose, a few different types of brushes, and dawn dish soap. Dawn dish soap works the best to get off most of the dirt, and though most any dish soap would probably work pretty much everyone I know uses dawn.

That being said while washing a cow it works best to rinse them off first with slightly warm water, but not too hot obviously. This way some of the dirt comes off before you even start scrubbing. The rest is pretty much scrubbing off as much dirt as you can, and then rinsing them off again. It’s also best to let them dry off before clipping, which is why I usually do washing one week and clipping the next.