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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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Sometimes I am struck by how fields keep their past. No matter how thoroughly a dead furrow seems to be disked before new seeding, you can still find it after every cutting.

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As I write, the last of the snow is melting away. Area farmers are looking at futures and weather predictions, deciding what to put in the ground. The same thing is repeated often: “It’s a gamble.” The same sentiment is also used to express feelings about agriculture in general.

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We rubbed our hands between our knees, waiting for the present batch of cows to milk out. I sat on an overturned bucket; my father was on the steps that led out of the pit.

It was the middle of February, where the cold still crept through the edges of the window panes to frost the glass and froze the manure at the end of stalls. It was still the type of weather where your toes got cold through the boots and might not warm until much later in the day.

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Several years ago, my friend brought me to her house in the suburbs. I can’t recall the rows of houses we passed to reach hers, only that it seemed indefinite because I couldn’t tell them apart.

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top25

This article was #5 of the Top 25 most well-read articles on www.progressivedairy.com in 2013. It was published in the Feb. 11, 2013 print issue.

Click here for the full list of the Top 25.

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There are various theories on how they came about, depending on what coffee machine in Canaseraga you were leaning on and what old-timer you were talking to. Some would say they’re hippies who had moved into the woods and gone native. Others think they’re offspring of Bigfoot.

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