Enthusiasm Abounds!

Today was filled with enthusiastic, energetic, positive, inspiring and animated people. 

At 5am we hit the snooze button and were on the road by 5:30 or so to Oroville. Megan texted us back saying she was up and ready. 

We drove through the pre-dawn fog and then into the dawn fog. The soft light before the sun breaks the horizon is wonderful for cinematography, so we drove along, hoping to make it to the farm, but knowing we were to far to arrive at what is known by some as the magic hour. Perhaps if we hadn't hit the snooze button.

It was still pretty enough when we arrived, and Megan greeted us with an unusual amount of energy for so early in the morning, mixing slop for her hogs, singing, and even finding time to get Andy a cup of coffee. Her enthusiasm was such that initially Megan wanted to talk to the camera while doing chores, however, we explained, for the first part of filming, we need folks to pretend like we're not there. 

After feeding hogs, we jumped in the truck and drove out across thousands and thousands of acres. Thinking it was a short ride, I jumped in back, and learned the cold way just how freezing a 60 mile an hour wind is in the face when exposed in 30 degree weather. 

Andy filmed as Megan fed minerals, the cattle a bit spooked because of the two extra people, were very reluctant to approach. Megan told us stories about the history of the farm as we bounced over scary old bridges, and around massive puddles. Back at the main base, we shot the interview. Megan talked with inspiring pride about her family's farm, her respect for her parents, and her hope to continue her family's farm legacy with a brood of her own. 

We got some beef jerky and promises for honey and more beef jerky before saying goodbyes and thank yous. We headed back to Sacramento, and there, rested up for our upcoming screening at UC Davis. 

200 students and community members crammed into Hunt Hall, the first hundred getting burritos that Scott and Yvonne of Chipotle had been kind enough to provide. Amanda, the intrepid undergrad who coordinated many of the logistics for the screening, had command of the large crowd, relaying pertinent information when needed, and keeping us on schedule. We actually introduced the film early, and got started right on time at 6:30 following a couple moments of audio confusion. 

The panel following was filled with people, with Amanda moderating. First people gave brief intros, followed by longer, much more in depth life histories entwined with agriculture. Caleb and Curt, both followed in their fathers footsteps. Caleb grew up in the UC Davis meat lab, skateboarding through the slaughter facilities as a kid. Now he takes pride in showing UC Davis students how the process works of taking a live animal, and transforming it into food for people to eat. Curt talked about his father's hard-working life milking cows by hand in Nebraska, and hauling hay after that. He's inherited his father's love of hay and feed, and currently owns a company Fodder Solutions, that is worth checking out. 

A trio of female farmers joined the discussion, all from different farms and organizations. Sasha Klein, who is part of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, talked about her beginner farmer pursuits, as well as the vital role that FVC plays in getting our nation's veterans returning from abroad into bill-paying agricultural gigs in the Davis area, and on a national scale as well. 

One farmer, Trini Campbell, represented a farm that employs 100 people, Riverdog Farm, and she cordially invited the hundreds of undergrads in attendance to their hoe down later this year. 

Another farmer, Kristy Lynn Levings, of Riverdog Farm, talked at length about the differences between being a vegetable farmer and an animal farmer, her love of raising animals apparent with each word that she spoke. 

We closed the conversation with a round of applause from the energetic enthusiastic audience, and we had an unusual amount of people come up and talk about how much they enjoyed the film. After the panel ended we got to connect with Mary Campbell of Land Based Learning, a phenomenal organization sure to be a part of our next documentary about young farmers. There must be something in the air out here in Sacramento and Davis, people really support local agriculture, and there's a palpable excitement that we are honored and humbled to have been a part of for the past two days. 

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