Every once in a while, a package arrives on my desk at work — one of those big, yellow manilla envelopes that gets me excited about what I might find inside.
Several months ago, I opened a rather large package to find a 344-page paperback book titled, “Woman-Powered Farm.” It was touted as a “Manual for a Self-Sufficent (Yes, a typo on the cover of the book!) Lifestyle from Homestead to Field.”
Reporters are never supposed to accept free stuff (some might see it as bribery — a gift in exchange for some positive press), but hey, this package was unsolicited, so it was fine.
I paged through it quickly and found the book to be an essential how-to for someone who perhaps grew up in the city and knows nothing about agriculture. There are tips on how to purchase a tractor, pros and cons of electric fencing, options for animals to raise (they referred to goats as being wily as a coyote!) and ideas for mapping out a garden. There are even a few pages dedicated to instructions on how to start any engine or fix a flat tire.
I haven’t looked closely enough at the book to see if there is an explanation on the difference between a cow, a bull and a steer.
Last week, while the Minnesota Holstein Association’s dairy show was in Worthington, a cutline in our paper mistakenly included the word “utter” instead of “udder” in reference to a cow’s mammary system.
I was shocked to learn a couple of people in our own newsroom didn’t realize there were differing spellings for the very different meanings of the word.
Equally as shocking was the discovery that another one of my newsroom cohorts refers to all cattle as cows — and didn’t know what a steer was. I still think he was joking — at least I want to think he was joking.
The simple ag education lesson to my citified co-workers — all cows are cattle but not not all cattle are cows.
Keeping it simple is exactly what author Holly Dufek did in her latest children’s book, “Big Tractors,” which arrived on my desk earlier this week. The 32-page hardcover is part of the CaseIH for Kids library. As a fan of the red tractors, all I have to say is thank goodness CaseIH is finally featured in children’s books! The other side (aka John Deere) has long had the monopoly on children’s books, kids’ clothing and toys. The big green machines quickly claimed the admiration of my nephew, Reece, and now, sadly, my great-nephew Brody seems to think green is better than red — even though his grandpa Randy proudly displays a sign that reads, “If it ain’t red, leave it in the shed.” (This family controversy is really all in fun, though, so please don’t send me hate mail!)
“Big Tractors” was a delightful read, filled with interesting facts about CaseIH tractors “Big Red the Magnum” and “Sammy Steiger”. I’m hoping to share the book with my nephew when he comes to visit the farm next week. Who knows, maybe I’ll win him over to the right side … er, I mean red side!
The books, by the way, will be donated to the Nobles County Library in a few weeks, along with other agriculture-related books I received longer ago, “Hatching and Brooding Your Own Chicks” and “The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen.”