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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 Steuben County Fair marked both the end of summer and a chance for farm kids in our area to hang out together under the guise of showing cattle.

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A radio sits in the crux of two pipelines at the top of the parlor. It’s mostly tipped to its side and tentatively secured by a piece of baling twine. Dust clogs the speakers and the quality of the reception changes every time a cow walks past it on her way to the freestalls.

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The Aran Islands lay off the west coast of Ireland as three small shadows in the haze of Galway Bay. Inis Oírr (pronounced “inish ear”) is not much more than a square mile.Like the other two islands, it is one of the few remaining gaeltachts where Irish (mistakenly called Gaelic by Americans) is still the primary language.

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I don’t know how old I was when I realized that Santa Claus wasn’t real. A story about a fat man slipping through chimneys with toys has a lot of holes in it. If it was true, we would be dealing with a very capable man in being able to do all that he was reported to – and surely, this same man could have done our morning chores for us so we could have stayed in the house and opened presents.

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When I was little, I sat on the armrest of the tractor while my father ran the TMR mixer. I asked him many things throughout the course of my childhood, but one of the questions I returned to the most was, “Why don’t farmers protest low milk prices?”

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Her name was not Connie, but I’ll call her that. The company she worked for was not Cargill, but I’ll say it was. The first time I saw her was at our kitchen table, a red folder of pamphlets and fact sheets in front of her.

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