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Ryan Dennis

Ryan Dennis is the son of a New York dairy farmer and a literary writer whose early essays were originally published in Progressive Dairyman.

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The history of agriculture in most Western nations follows the same pattern. Humans on the European continent domesticated the aurochs early on in their evolution and eventually produced the dairy cow.

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Back in my mid-20s, I dated a German girl from a rich family. Her father was appalled she was with someone not wealthy. I eventually learned that he often said, in German, I looked like a homeless person. I told that to a friend over the phone, and the line went silent as he thought of a way to be kind.

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What was the first thing the farmer did with his lottery winnings?
Farm until it was gone.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard that joke, I could buy a pocketful of lottery tickets myself.

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When I was in seventh grade, I picked up a book laying in the corner of a classroom called A River Runs Through It. The first paragraph was short and about a boy growing up with religion and fly fishing, and how in his family there was little distinction between the two.

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I have no doubt that, like every generation before us, we will judge the next generation to be spoiled or clueless. Nonetheless, whatever does become of them, I hope that the next generation holds us accountable and thinks for themselves.

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It was the usual rite of a rural upbringing, and the time had come for my father and me to take part in it ourselves. When I was 11, he took me to the end of the cornfield, set up a hubcap and had me shoot at it.

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