*6am farm crew arrives*
Farmer Garland: “Y’all this is Casey. She’s here to learn how to birth calves. She’s one of those damn Yankees.”
*Petey, Farm Manager looks at me, looks at the driveway, looks back at me...*
Petey: “Weeeeelllllll (pause for coffee)...at least she has good taste in trucks.”
In November, while picking up the War Wagon in Florida, I had to share the 4’ by 4’ RV park “gym” with a couple who came at the same hour.
The man had a Man Belly about 13 months pregnant and victoriously ripped off his shirt each morning at a neck-breaking treadmill speed of 1.5mph.
On the third morning, in my very gentle way, I exclaimed that he had lost ten pounds since the day before!
He grinned. Rubbed his belly and leaned in, “My wife married me for my body.”
We were instant friends.
And that should have been the end of our short gym chit chats until he let it slip that he was a black angus farmer in Tennessee.
I ripped the red emergency stop bottom off his treadmill (it’s not like he was going fast), grabbed my phone and forced him into a photo storybook of my baby cow obsession.
And then his wife said the thing she shouldn’t have to a complete stranger: “Our heffers are all giving birth at the end of January. Want to come help?”
WHAT IS YOUR ADDRESS?!
It’s not advised to drive 8 hours and stay with people you don’t know. It’s also not advised to invite a fire-breathing, cow-chasing Ninja Ginja into your home to play Nanna Moo.
But that’s what solo travel will teach you: trust your gut and be open to the kindness of strangers.
The mornings here start before dawn. At that hour it’s 15 degrees and snowing. Eight layers, boots and my coveralls later we are flying through the mud on tractors counting cows and looking for babies.
There are few patrols through the day and one last count at around 9pm. So far, four slimy wide-eyed baby moos have either tumbled onto to the floor or greeted us out in the field by surprise.
365 days a year farmers for every crop and every meat on the dinner plate work a thankless shift. As do the sassy field puppies whose lives are dedicated to extending yours.
You don’t have to drive 8 hours to experience farm work or see cows being born. I just had the added bonus of making a reunion with two people I would have never met had it not been for an RV and that belly.
Instead, you can probably drive just a few minutes from your own home and meet the men and women who feed 99% of this nation. Stay long enough they might put you to work and try to feed you. Stay for a few days and they might make you one of the family.