COUNTY AGENT GUY
There are hazards associated with almost every activity. For a klutz like me, even trimming my toenails involves very real risk.
My wife and I recently attended an event that came with a unique set of hazards, the main one being the distinct possibility of overdosing on cheese.
The Central Plains Dairy Expo is held each spring in a sprawling Sioux Falls convention center. Expo attendees can view the gee-whizziest in dairy technology, from robotic milkers to automatic calf feeders to computerized feed wagons. There are now systems that can gather reams of data regarding cows’ behavior, yet nobody seems the least bit perturbed by this overt intrusion into bovine privacy.
A recent development in cow comfort is a gigantic bottle brush that slowly spins. The device is installed in dairy barns in a place that’s convenient for the cows, who spend vast amounts of time enjoying the brush’s ministrations. I suppose it’s like receiving a full-body grooming and massage. This gizmo would be a wondrous addition for any home that has guys.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of each Expo is the crowning of a new South Dakota Dairy Princess. Young dairy farm ladies compete for the right to represent the state’s dairy industry and attend festivities that often involve such things as milk mustaches.
There were a number of current and former Dairy Princesses on hand for the coronation. I hadn’t seen that much royalty in one place since Kate and William’s wedding.
Dairy Princesses identify one another via a signal that’s imperceptible to us mortals. They then perform the Secret Princess Handshake, which is too convoluted to describe in this space. As they shake hands, they chant the following verse:
Milk, yogurt, butter, cheese.
Dairy products are sure to please!
No, that’s not true; I made up the part about the signal, the secret handshake and the poem. But it would be really cool if something like that actually happened.
My wife and I wandered the Expo, noshing on the numerous free cheese samples and stopping every few feet to chat with folks whom we know or who feel that they know us because of my column and my book. It was like attending an enormous family reunion where some of the relatives are so distant that you have never physically met them.
In the natural course of things, I had to answer the call of nature. As I took care of business, a voice behind me intoned, “You there in the stall. Are you dealing with calf scours?”
“Cripes,” I thought. “A guy can’t keep anything secret nowadays.”
It took several long moments for me to realize that the voice was an audio ad (being played to a captive audience!) that was piped in through a speaker in the bathroom’s ceiling. I chuckled over the placement of the bovine anti-diarrheal product promotion and left the bathroom feeling relieved on multiple levels.
While I was off yakking with dairy farmers and others in with the dairy industry, my wife was given the opportunity to participate in an experience called Connect and Create. This event involved being in a room with a bunch of dairy farm ladies, enjoying sandwiches and a substance called “mimosa.”
An art instructor gave each lady a canvass that had a cow’s face sketched on it. The participants were then encouraged to paint their own personal versions of a cow.
My wife painted a Jersey, of course. This seemed silly as we can glance out the window of our farmhouse anytime we like and see Jersey steers. Even so, I was greatly impressed with her artistic efforts. I would be totally flummoxed were I asked to create anything more artsy than a stickman.
Toward the end of the Expo, my wife and I visited a booth where a dairy product manufacturer was giving away grilled cheese sandwiches. The sandwiches were extra special to us because Monica, the mother of a former Dairy Princess and a friend of ours, was part of the team preparing them. Monica and her husband, Brad, are charter members of the March 21st Club.
Membership in this club is limited to folks who, like Monica and Brad and my wife and I, were wed on March 21, 1981.
The free grilled cheese sandwiches seemed quite popular. But maybe the booth was busy because word had gotten out that the sandwiches were being made by Monica.
The Expo ended just as we approached our legal cheese limits. My wife is still wondering about that calf scours message she heard in the ladies’ room and I am eagerly looking forward to the delivery of my humungous, slowly rotating brush.
Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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