Dating a Dairy Farmer…

by Caton McKenna

Although I grew up on a “hobby farm,” was an active member of FFA and 4-H and went to the Cornell University College of Agriculture, I’ve never really considered myself a farm girl. My three sisters embrace the stereotypes that come with country living, but I refuse to be categorized. My family will attest to my gradual mainstreaming and subsequent distance from my agricultural roots.

Now, I’ve known several girls (*cough Jenny), who pine after handsome farm boys. I have never been one of them. “For I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life…”  but I do not necessarily hold an inborn fondness to make it my life’s pursuit. Sorry E.M. Tiffany.

So, yeah, I never meant to fall in love with a farmer. That was never in my plan.

But then Mike entered my life again, and I was quickly swept back into the agricultural fold as quickly as he swept me off my feet.

Some things to note since “re” agriculturing my life:

1. There is a definitive wave/hand signal given to truck, tractor, and sometimes even snow plow drivers. It’s like a curt flick of the wrist back and just the index finger and thumb make the hand motion in greeting/acknowledgement. Anything more than that would be considered “over the top.” I tried the nonchalant “claw motion,” as I like to refer to it, but I was driving my Toyota Yaris. Epic fail.

2. There is a difference between first and second cutting hay, and I do not know what it is. (Oh, the horror!)  My family would be so ashamed.

3. Mike knows every single person in all of Madison and Oneida County by first and last name,  where they live, what their back story is, and what they do. I’m convinced. I think this knowledge is creepy.

4. Farming is excellent exercise, but I am not the best farm hand. Mike usually allows me to help him with three things: sweeping, scraping, and shoveling corn silage into carts. The last one is a huge responsibility, but according to my sister Betsey and her boyfriend Rocco, I’m probably contributing a lot of “shrink.” I shovel two tons of corn silage into carts from Mike’s trailer almost everyday while I’m home. I love doing it, because I feel like I get my arms/back/ab workout in. Unfortunately, I dump quite a bit of corn accidentally….and on windy days, I’m completely hopeless. Trying to push the full carts back into the barn is another story completely. I have to use every ounce of my body weight to heave the heavy carts…resulting in several bruises on my knees and legs from where I try to get leverage. I’ve gotten soft in my non-ag days.

5. It’s impossible to go from the barn to another social event without the aroma of sweet hay and manure making its presence as your perpetual perfume. No amount of hand sanitizer, soap, febreeze, or body spray will do. Showering is the only solution.

6. Riding in the tractor to spread manure is “almost” as much fun as a ride at Disney World. This is what I’m trying to convince myself, since currently my mom, dad, and Jenny are enjoying themselves at the “most magical place on Earth.” But seriously, a tractor ride over snow banks and frozen mud is terrifyingly exhilarating. I’m almost 99% sure the tractor is going to fall over every single time. That math works, right?

7.  My farmer speaks in colloquialisms, and I find it absolutely hilarious. Here are just a few of his favorites:

Living high on/off? the hog

…. maybe 100 pounds soaking wet.

….driving slower than molasses in January.

I have a terrible habit of mimicking accents/antiquated phrases/etc. and recently told my mom she was “rubbing salt in the wound.” Who am I?!? Stay tuned for more Mike phrases. I’m thinking of making it a weekly blog special 🙂

8. It’s OK to go to church and the Colgate Inn with a trailer full of corn silage. All the cool kids are doing it these days.

9. It’s hard to keep track of which cows have been milked and need iodine dipping. They all look the same from the back. Seriously, that is my only job during milking, and I’m pretty sure I have dipped the same cow multiple times. On an unrelated note- I’m not a very good farm hand.

10. Any activity after 8PM is probably going to result in a very tired farm boy trying hard to stay awake. At least he’s trying. He does get weird when he’s tired, and I find his actions/delirium hilarious.

Bonus Note: My farm boy texts me “hay,” pretty frequently. I thought he was really bad at spelling. I just recently realized that he is not actually misspelling “hey,” it’s a nod to farming! He’s so clever 🙂 Again, I’m an idiot.