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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 Dairy.

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We have tractors that can connect to GPS and drive on autopilot. An offsite mechanic can use telematics to access the onboard diagnostic system of a machine. Cows can wear sensing collars that send messages to a farmer’s smartphone if they’re sick or in heat. Let it be said farming has seen its share of advancements.

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I tend to be a quantity-over-quality type of guy. Instead of a nice pair of jeans, I’d rather have three cheap pairs of Levis to take the pressure off washing.

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Let us take a moment to appreciate just how versatile the cow is. We drink her milk and eat her meat. We can judge her, show her and tip her over. With a bit of spray paint we can play Cow Chip Bingo for a laugh at the county fair.

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In case you missed it, recently there was the Tibooburra Butchering and Golf Day in New South Wales, Australia. Over 150 people gathered to tee off at the state’s only desert golf course, followed by watching a live demonstration on cutting up beef.

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One of the consequences of living in a city is inevitably picking up a few friends who are vegetarians. They see me order a burger and ask how I can eat beef, knowing that cattle contribute to greenhouse gases.

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I started drinking coffee and milking cows at the age of 12. They probably came hand in hand, if not from the early mornings then as markers of entering an adulthood of sorts. Following the example of my father, I would have the first cup in the house and then bring the second one to the parlor.

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