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Lead Summary

Life is always an adventure. That was evident last week at the Steele County Fair.
In an unusual twist, I found myself on the other side of the camera and part of a story – the Bella the Cow Milking Contest sponsored by the Steele County Dairy Association.
I certainly have lots of knowledge about dairy after covering agriculture for years and growing up on a farm. But I’ve never milked a cow.
Duking it out for the title of best milker were 23 contestants, including church leaders, media personalities, county commissioner, dairy farmers, businessmen and dairy princesses.
We each had 30 seconds to see how much milk, actually it was water, we could squeeze out of Bella the Cow, a fictional cow located outside the FFA Barnyard.
I seemed to get into a pretty good rhythm right off the bat. But I made one catastrophic mistake—I left my watch on. So every time I squeezed, it seemed like I was clanking it against the pail and slowing down my flow.
The 30 seconds flew by and before I knew it was time to quit. If only dairy milking could be that easy, right?
I measured in at 16.5 ounces, enough to place me 14th out of 23. Certainly not even close to the top.
Defending milking champion Chris Kruse of Garlick’s Water hailed victorious once again with 46 ounces. Brad Kubat of KOWZ Radio finished second with 33.5 ounces and Jay Klemmenson of Eagle Prairie Insurance in Blooming Prairie finished third at 32.5 ounces.
I was a little surprised that a couple of the dairy farmers didn’t make it into the Top 3, though I’m certain most cows are not hand-milked any longer. I’m not sure what it all means other than maybe a good chuckle.
My hands, which are accustomed to flying across the keyboard and snapping pictures with a camera, just don’t seem to measure up for milking. I’ve decided to stick with being a journalist instead of becoming a dairy farmer. After all, an udder reality check doesn’t hurt anyone every once in a while.
I’ll also stick with using my hands to scarf up those delicious strawberry malts that the ADA sells at the fair and other community events.
If anything, the milking experience has reaffirmed my understanding that dairy farmers are hard-working and passionate about providing a safe product. I truly appreciate what dairy farmers do for consumers. I just wish there were more of them left across our countryside.
I won’t be going in hot pursuit of milking any time soon. Some things are just left better for other people.

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