Each time that I visit a farm my respect for farmers grows exponentially; my latest adventure to the Heinsohn Farm was no different.
I was recently invited to participate in a commercial for the Illinois Farm Bureau with 3 other farm moms who were just as eager as I have been over the course of the year to debunk the myths surrounding commercially grown food. We drove out to Dekalb County where we shot the commercial in 3 separate locations of the Heinsohn Farm: near the corn fields, inside of a feedlot, and overlooking a small prairie. And while 2 of the 3 locations allowed for ample sunshine, blue skies and fresh cool winds, one location proved to be a bit challenging for this Momma…the feedlot.
When we first arrived into the feedlot, I didn’t know that in due time I’d grow accustomed to the stench…but I did. It was more the splashing and plopping of excrement onto the concrete that made me take pause. Now granted I had an inkling that this wasn’t going to be a dainty commercial shoot (no doilies here), except maybe some very real attempts from us Moms to remain composed while being goosed by wet cow snouts and tongues. There was a real rhythm to how the cows behaved, they munched constantly on the hay throughout the day (which was placed just outside of their gate) and when they grew tired they would simply go back into their stalls for a quick rest before rising again to “relieve themselves.”
Yet, despite this clear rhythm, I couldn’t totally adapt. I could handle the stench (I’ve had my share of diaper disasters), and I could deal with being goosed. I could bear the relentless flies which swarmed about as a result of turning off the fans for the commercial shoot, but I just couldn’t handle the prospect of being “splashed” with “cow juice”.
The director would count down, the scene would open and we Moms would walk alongside Farmers Jeff and Bona Heinsohn inquiring about their farm practices, when out of the corner of my eye I’d see a tail lift.
Now, the tail lift is THE tell tale sign of impending relief, and is accompanied by the sounds of slosh and heavy rain. My eyes would glaze over and I’d have to remind myself to put one boot in front of the other, fix my lips to smile, and squint my eyes as if to demonstrate signs of a satisfied inquisition, but my mind was anywhere but there. Instead it took a turn at stage left about a foot or two off screen. My mantra for the afternoon became “rein it in Amina…rein it in!”
But, honestly, this city girl and recovering clean freak (thanks to Zoe and Jada), was petrified by the thought of a dreaded “splash,” and despite multiple attempts to shoo these visions from swirling about my head… I failed!
Until finally it happened. In between takes a tail lifted, the slosh and heavy rain proceeded and one of my companions was splashed!
I was mortified and just before I nearly passed out in the hay, she simply pulled out a little tissue and wiped her leg clean. Done and Done. Now granted, this happened to farmer Bona who might have her own splash tales to share with you, but the way in which she handled herself so calmly gave me a sense of ease…
…well sort of.
I managed to leave the scene unmarred, but if I hadn’t, I think I might have survived it after all…
Note: I have not included pictures of the “cows in the act” for fear that I might run some of my readers away. If you are terribly curious I am happy to send you videos of cow slosh and heavy rain under separate cover.
Dairy Cow Care:
For those of you who are curious about the well-being of the dairy cows showcased in the commercial shoot you’ll be comforted to know that no animals were hurt during the filming of this commercial. There was little to no mooing (mooing typically signals discomfort) and the slosh and heavy rain is cleared with a squeegee each time the cows are milked. It is pushed into a special drain, mixed with bacteria which then becomes a slurry. That is a slurry…not a slurpee…and is used for fertilizer.
Cow udders are wiped clean before milking and an antiseptic, which is used to quickly close up the milk ducts, is applied before they are lead back to the feedlot. Surfaces are wiped clean before the next batch of cows enters for milking.
Running a dairy farm is not easy, it’s not for the faint of heart, nor is it for those that don’t like to get their hands dirty. I have the utmost respect for the farmers and their families that welcome the lifestyle that comes with getting milk to our tables everyday. Despite the modern day advances in farm technology that have allowed farmers to produce more food with less man power, it is still incredibly hard, and messy work.
I’m reminded of it every time I drink an ice cold glass of milk!
Keep your eyes peeled for the commercial! It is set to run at the start of the new year in the quad cities.
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