Four people who know what the cow says.
This episode is all about cows- heifers, calves, bulls, Holsteins, Jerseys… I learned so much this week. We hear from Will Gilmer (dairy farmer in Alabama), Annie (ambulatory veterinarian in Wisconsin), Tim McNutt (organic and raw dairy farmer), and Maegan Clark (social media manager at Heifer International) who all have a special bond in common even though they work in very different settings, locations, and have never met. We’ll hear some awesome cow puns, how being weird may help more people than you think, and why Elmer needs a wingman.
Also, this episode does bring up some themes about life and death on the farm; see the bottom of this post for more information.
I found Will on social media, tweeting and posting about life on the farm, being chased by cows, and reminding everyone that there’s nothing quite like a well-placed pun. He works on the family farm- Gilmer Dairy Farm– not out of obligation, but by choice. Originally, he went to college for something entirely different than farming, and I think it made him re-appreciate that lifestyle. He’s another person who loves his career, even the 60 hour per week schedule.
Social media “helps make it fun” and adds to the voice Will can have within the field. “There’s value in communicating with more people. It clears up misconceptions about farming,” he told me. I learned everything from cow lingo to why the Holstein cow is the best for him.
Annie is an ambulatory veterinarian for large animals, namely cows. Basically, she gets to be an animal hospital on wheels and travel to different farms. Her journey here started with a nail-biting habit and that magical draw that cats seem to have. Really, my son is obsessed with cats right now so we can totally relate. Here is someone who spent years doing other things in the big city of Chicago before realizing she was part of a terrible system. Annie gave her two-week notice that very day and never looked back. Her stories has multiple displays of perseverance, and through it all, she showed me that it is never too late to reinvent yourself down the road.
Hear her talk about the joys of baby calves and the high and low realities of being a veterinarian. Annie says finding the perfect fit felt like finally coming home, and her story is sweet, inspiring, and raw in a way that will resonate with a lot of people.
Tim is an organic and raw dairy farmer in Molalla, Oregon- but don’t let that fool you. His past includes Baltimore, the bicycle industry, an entrepreneurial father, and the realization that you can step out of the bigger system and still be successful. He says the most influential people in his life have been his dad, who showed him that impactful realization… and his wife, who gave him humility. In high school, Tim had enough credits to graduate as a junior, but after a senior project incident and really unhelpful feedback from a teacher left him rather discouraged, his dad stepped up and helped Tim find a way to get his diploma, be successful, and grow. Since then, his wife has helped him refine his ability to listen and hear what others are truly saying, not just what he would like to hear. (Which is a good reminder for us all!)
There’s something about his voice and his tone that fits his story so well. From how he entered the land of farming in the Portland area to how he embraces “authentic, small scale farming” at The Abbey Farm, to the sad reality that Elmer the Steer has absolutely no game with the ladies, Tim’s story is dynamic, insightful, and one I won’t easily forget.
Maegan is the social media manager for Heifer International, a non-profit organization that my aunt supported consistently before she lost her battle with cancer. When I looked further into all that Heifer does both near and far around the world, I realized that all of today’s guests have a common understanding even though they are in social media at a non-profit, large or small scale farming, or a veterinary care.
Maegan learned all she knows about cows through Heifer. As a child, her dream was to find a career where she could “wear high heels and do something fun.” She was always the creative one, happiest when she was busy making something new. In high school, she loved math and English and decided that whatever she pursued must include a creative/writing component. She’s been with Heifer for over six years now, and yes, that journalism degree does come in handy while she works in high heels, doing something fun.
Episode note on mature content:
Today’s episode covers the reality of farm life, including discussion around the theme of birth and death of animals. A dog is put down, though there are no details. We hear a brief description of a young rooster being killed which includes placement of hands and fingers on the body, then pulling it apart. There is also a description of a reproductive health check on a cow.
Special thanks to Will Gilmer, Annie, Tim McNutt, and Maegan Clark for sharing their stories with the world.
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