Schaller to Carroll

Not sure of the roads we drove North from Audubon to Schaller. The roads had some ice, but it was a clear day, and people were driving in awareness. We turned left past the mailbox with Miller on it, and soon met up with Daren, who was wearing a pair of beat up Carhartt coveralls. He had been up since 4am loading hogs, at a place where he works in addition to chores at the home farm, in addition to going to school full time at Iowa Lakes Community College. 

Snow blanketed the landscape as Daren filled up 5 gallon buckets with corn, then put them on a trough in the mid of the cattle. They converged on the feed, their breath a slow mist rising. He unhooked the gate, grabbed some more buckets and filled them up at the water pump. Back through the gate, he walked past the cattle into a small old barn, where he dumped the water into a big black plastic tub. Soon the animals left the feed and went in for a drink. There weren't much chores today, so we walked around until we found the right light for the interview. 

Daren talked about his initial desire to be an artist, something he found difficult career-wise, although he plans to set up a studio for the off-season to work on pointalism. Friends have him draw some of their tattoos. He farms because when he's outside, tending animals or planting, or harvesting, it doesn't feel like work. 

He showed us a busted-up snow mobile he'd been driving on a football field the night before, with friends, in the swirling snow. Don't buy one, they're deathtraps. We said goodbyes, and thankyous and headed South to Carroll for the afternoon screening. 

After some technical challenges, we got the screening underway for about 40 or 50 folks, most of them students, many farmers in the mix. We split up into groups and asked questions. There was a lot of spirited discussion, with some of the adults in the audience very strongly speaking out on behalf of conventional agriculture. More so than at any of our previous discussions. We found some common ground, talking about the raising of broiler pens as a good FFA SAE project, and about the economic advantages of local distribution. 

We stayed talking long after the screening, and were energized by students and farmers coming up to say thanks, which we returned in kind. 

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published this page in Ruminations 2012-07-18 11:44:40 -0400