Last week we watched small children guide carefully raised cows around the ring at the Shawano County Fair and caught a glimpse of what makes Wisconsin family farms so special.
“What’s your favorite thing to do at the fair,” asked the cheerful MC.
In the shadow of the midway, where rides, games and deep-fried Oreo cookies beckoned, almost every child said the same thing.
“I love to walk my cow.”
The thrill of pacing a large animal that you’ve raised in obscurity, rising early to bottle feed and staying up late to brush and train, can be contagious. All of the tiny participants beamed as they stood facing judges, family, friends and potential buyers.
We have a precious resource in this country and we need to protect it. Behind every beautiful red barn along a rural landscape lives an even more beautiful and often multi-generational farm family.
Battling age-old threats like weather and weeds, and worrisome new ones like encroaching mega farms, family farms endure and sometimes even thrive thanks to the work ethic and good old American chutzpah of their owners.
It behooves people like me, who buy their produce picked and their meat cellophaned, to understand our food source and to take a moment or two to thank the people who work so hard to protect it.
It’s harvest season in America. Let’s all thank a family farmer. Meanwhile, enjoy these pictures of the cutest farmers and cows you’ll ever see.