Thursday, October 04, 2018

Thursday at the World Dairy Expo

The World Dairy Expo, held annually in Madison, is a huge deal. It draws crowds from 100 countries. Every aspect of the dairy industry is on display. And there are the cows: more than 2300 heads of cattle, from 40 states and from the Canadian provinces. It is a place to learn, to exchange information, to showcase your best, to connect and make inquiries.

No place for a small child, right?

Wrong. This year, not for the first time, I took Snowdrop to the "cow show" (though this year, since she is older, I explained to her that it's more than just a cow show. A Wisconsin child should learn the meaning of dairy early in life!).

First, of course, there is a farmette morning. It's a cold day -- so odd to follow a hot day! -- but the sunshine is brilliant and inviting. Well, just mildly inviting. We eat breakfast, of course, indoors. Ed tells me that an open window and a furnace pumping in warm air are not compatible (I disagree, but quietly, when he's in the other room) and so we have no real connection from our indoor perch to the vast and beautiful world outside.

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That world:

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And after breakfast, I'm lost to chores and Ed's lost somewhere in the crawlspace of the attic, searching for a roof leak that he cannot find.

Ah, but soon enough it is the afternoon. I pick up an excited Snowdrop and we walk to the World Dairy Expo (which happens to be at the Expo Center -- a short stroll from her school).

It is a terrific set of hours! (Snowdrop is keen on bringing both her brother and her cousin next year!)

A few photos from our afternoon with cows. And dairy. Just a few, I promise!

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(There are junior tents as well, where young cow boys and girls compete. Snowdrop tells me that she intends to look after a cow too someday.)

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(Hold that tail!)

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(I learn later that you're not really supposed to ride these cows. Hurry up, just do it! -- the nearby guard tells us.)

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A hit: the purple cow gift shop. All those cows!

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Another hit: the ice cream parlor. I tell Snowdrop -- I only have cash for yours. The portions are huge. I figure I'll finish all that she cannot possibly consume herself. A guy before me overhears. Oh please, I insist on buying you yours.

We eat a lot of ice cream.

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We pass a John Deere stand. Toys, souvenirs, you name it. Snowdrop insists that it is her dream to own one of the many models. I want to say -- forget it. You got a cow. Then comes the guilt -- oh, so you're okay about buying her a girlie stuffie but not a plastic tractor? And you wonder why she has no interest in heavy machinery? (I'll let you guess how that back and forth ended.)

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Finally, at the big arena. She wants to get down really close. We do that.

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Then she wants to climb up to the highest places, to look on from afar. We do that as well.

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She loves it all.

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While the cow show moves on.

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And others prepare for their turn. (If you've never seen grown men (or women)  fuss over over every hair on their cow's tail, you should at some point in your life visit a cow show. Or at least a county fair.)

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This year (as opposed to previous years where she was really taken aback by the sheer size of these animals) Snowdrop is completely comfortable moving among the stalls of the "barns."

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Indeed, it's hard to pull her away. But, the lure of play is a good one. In the late late afternoon, we're back at the farmhouse.

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... where Snowdrop immediately dives into one of her many ongoing imaginative games.

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I retreat to the sidelines. I feel confident that dairy expos, along with hoof trimming tools and milking machines are part of her vocabulary going forward.