Aug. 7, 2013
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A day at the farm: A neophyte's perspective

By Natalie van Hoose

Natalie vanHoose
Natalie van Hoose

When I say it smelled like manure, I mean that in the best possible way. As in crushed corn husks. As in the summer sun stripping the last of the morning haze from the air. As in you’re not sure why you’re standing out in a cow pasture in your good slacks and loafers, but you’re not hurting for a reason either.

Ostensibly, we are here on business, and my co-workers Jenn and Tom trudge through the weeds, searching for good camera angles. Tom stops and points his lens at a cluster of silos rising from the horizon.

"Looks like the Emerald City," he says.

Me? I’m the greenhorn getting my feet wet. Literally. I pull my cap farther down over my nose and listen as the herdsman talks heifer hormones and heat synchronization. I’m trying to roll with it, maybe pick up something handy to a science writer, but mostly I’m just watching the cows, letting them work their thick-as-molasses charm on me.

Huddled atop a knoll, they stare right back — a dozen beauties with swinging briskets, glossy necks, and those knock-’em-dead eyelashes.

And just when I think this is enough to last me for a while, a flock of birds suddenly lifts and blows over our heads, so close we can hear their wings rustle. The herdsman turns to watch them go, a hand shading his eyes. He shakes his head and says, more to himself than anyone else, “Turtledoves like crazy.”

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