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Writer decides it’s best to stick to livestock too large to squash

While I write this, I’m sitting ringside at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. As I sit ringside and take photos of beautiful cattle as they parade across colored shavings, I count myself blessed to be able to work in this industry.

This show has been named the “Big Dance” by dairy enthusiasts and is second to none when it comes to everything dairy. It’s one week when dairy producers, if they can, will take a few days to recharge and refresh with other like-minded folks.

Mentally, this is a great place for dairymen who are feeling the pinch of low milk prices and little cash flow. Everyone needs a change of perspective now and again, even if it means leaving a group of FFA kids behind for a week.

Meanwhile, back at the FFA barn in North Adams, a murder has been committed.

Our meat birds arrived safe and sound last week and we carefully tucked them into their warm surroundings with fresh water, feed and a warm lamp to keep them comfortable.

When the kids saw them for the first time, they had a ball. They wanted to name them, keep them for pets and every day since, they’ve walk into class begging to go see their chicks.

 A few days ago, I had to make a confession to these chick-loving teenagers: I had killed a chick.

While doing the chores with my co-teacher, we had an unfortunate accident. We were feeding the chickens one evening and I picked up the waterer to fill it and uncovered a flattened, dead chick. That morning when I placed the filled waterer back in the pen I must have put it smack dab on top of a chick without knowing it.

My heartless reaction was, “Oops, we have a dead chicken; better that I did it than one of the kids.”

Once he got over the fact that I actually killed a chick, I’m now only allowed to watch him do the chores from a safe distance. He talks to the chicks, makes sure their feed is free of debris and when he puts more shavings in, he doesn’t just dump the shavings in to watch the birds scatter – he carefully moves the chicks and spreads the shavings around.

If nothing else, these meat birds will enjoy the best six weeks of life under the care of dairy farmer turned chicken whisperer. In the meantime, I think I’ll just stay in my lane and write.


The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments for Melissa Hart may write to her in care of this publication.