That’s just not natural.

2 May

It’s the age-old question: “Tell me, Dairy Man, where do cows come from?”

To find the answer, the Dairy Man forced encouraged me to watch the “Dairy Cow Midwife” episode of Dirty Jobs. Needless to say, my delicate sensibilities will never be the same.

I may be a farm wife, but there are certain aspects to my husband’s job that I don’t want to know anything about. Before that fateful episode of Dirty Jobs, I had some vague ideas about artificial insemination but had always managed to push those disturbing thoughts out of mind. The less I knew the better. I wouldn’t be forced to ask questions I didn’t want the answer to, such as “WHERE does the breeder stick his arm?!?”

The process of birds and bees on a dairy farm is not quite like it used to be. Dairy farms of old had a bull or two running around the farm to turn on the charm and make cow babies.

But in modern dairy farming, this method of reproduction is highly inefficient. Or so the Dairy Man tells me. You can’t control genes, desirable traits, success rates, milk production. Because, of course, we want super-awesome high-producing wonder cows. Bulls are dangerous and modern farming can do better. We don’t want just any Joe Bovine impregnating our ladies.

So, what’s a farmer to do? Buy high-quality sperm for use in artificial insemination of course. Yes. There are entire companies dedicated to the sale of baby-making liquid for cattle. And the Dairy Man wears their hats.

This knowledge is an example of a fact I wish I didn’t know. But alas, one cannot be a dairy farmer’s wife without losing some innocence. I also know where hamburgers come from. Traumatizing, eh? Welcome to my life.


17 Responses to “That’s just not natural.”

  1. Shari Konkel 05/03/2011 at 11:33 am #

    Jessica, you truly have a gift for writing. I have a collection of short stories I’ve written over the years about farm life and family (published in The Farmers’ Advance) but have taken a long break from it. Your style is humorous, very relatable–my husband (also a dairy man) found the stories highly entertaining. I think your blogs would appeal to a wide audience–great job, and keep up the good work! We know Kent and have heard that you/Kyle took over the former buffalo ranch, just a few miles away from us–best wishes!

  2. Shelley Hale 05/03/2011 at 12:08 pm #

    Saw Vonnie’s link on facebook and checked out your blog. I loved it, and promptly shared it with my dairy-farming sister and her husband, whom she said snorted with laughter as she read it to him. We are fans! Keep it coming!

  3. Mandy 05/04/2011 at 5:41 pm #


  4. Val Dooyema 05/19/2011 at 6:24 pm #

    Hey Jess,
    Remember your Iowa relatives??? I’m Dustin’s mom, your mom’s cousin, if you’ll recall, and can sense our kinship by your writing style alone. Shelby, Dustin’s (btw how ironic, farm boy is now an architect) sister, just showed me your blog for the first time. Read all the posts straight through, took me back thirty years-yikes-when we got married and I had NO idea what being a dairy farmer’s wife meant. Sweet aunt Clarice(farmer’S wife) felt compelled to have me read an article on being married to the farm and the farmer after she met Eric one Iowa City Thanksgiving long ago. I didn’t pay attention,could barely read it,too lovestruck I guess. FF 30 years,we live in Sioux Center & Eric commutes about 10 minutes to chicken city, as it has become. It still is a all-consuming life, we just have many more animals but they produce smaller amounts of manure per creature. What does it say about us that our spouses’ jobs have been on Mike Rowe’s dirty jobs to do list? Hang in there young lady!!

  5. suzannie 08/16/2011 at 5:33 pm #

    Did SS give you any shirts? I’d like to trade, barter or buy one from you.

  6. thedairymaid 10/06/2011 at 10:37 pm #

    I remember the first time I saw my husband artificially inseminate. I’m so glad I’m not a cow.

    • the modern farm wife 10/26/2011 at 5:53 pm #

      I’m still avoiding that first time. 🙂 It’s traumatizing enough just to THINK about!

    • the modern farm wife 11/04/2011 at 9:08 am #

      I still haven’t SEEN the actual act. And I’m going to keep it that way for as loooooong as I can. 🙂


  1. What it’s really like to be married to a farmer « Modern Farm Wife - 11/03/2011

    […] new things from my dairy man. It’s impossible not to. And even though I sometimes learn things I never wanted to know, it’s great to expand my knowledge […]

  2. When it reeks to high heaven… « Modern Farm Wife - 04/11/2012

    […] I regale mildly interested coworkers with tales of mischievous cattle. I utter words like “artificial insemination,” “TMR,” and “manure” without skipping a beat. It’s shocking. Half the time I don’t […]

  3. Conference Season in Dairyland « Modern Farm Wife - 11/20/2012

    […] comes back home from each meeting bursting with new ideas, innovative solutions, and a whole lot of swag from …ahem… semen […]

  4. 30 Things To Do Before I’m 30. « Modern Farm Wife - 01/18/2013

    […] I was inspired to write this post by Sarah of Project Soiree and Mackenzie of Design Darling. But while these ladies chose to list 101 goals for 1001 days, I decided to take a slightly different approach. My non-mathematical brain couldn’t wrap around the idea of 1001 days (approximately 2.7424657 years), and 101 was too tall an order for a post that Dairy Man claimed “deviated from important things like manure and artificial insemination.” […]

  5. DM, Get Your Gun. « Modern Farm Wife - 01/24/2013

    […] and plug my fingers in my ears and sing “Lalalalalalalala” whenever Dairy Man talks about artificial insemination. I blubbered like a melodramatic baby who just watched The Notebook when I ran over a squirrel.  […]

  6. Dairy Man, Get Your Gun. « Modern Farm Wife - 01/24/2013

    […] and plug my fingers in my ears and sing “Lalalalalalalala” whenever Dairy Man talks about artificial insemination. I blubbered like a melodramatic baby who just watched The Notebook when I ran over a squirrel.  […]

  7. There’s More Than One Way to Milk a Cow | Modern Farm Wife - 03/06/2013

    […] I’m slowly developing proficiency with dairy lingo. My vernacular has been stretched, twisted, and traumatized more times than I can count. Thankfully, one area that doesn’t cause too much emotional distress is milking parlors. Especially when you compare them to companies that sell bull juice. […]

  8. Smells like money. | Modern Farm Wife - 03/18/2013

    […] spirited discussion about artificial insemination at the dinner table? Why not? An impassioned debate about the best kind of teat dip in the church […]

  9. When A City Slicker Writes a Dairy Blog. | Modern Farm Wife - 05/15/2013

    […] I know about farming comes from the DM. Some parts are interesting. Some parts are traumatizing. And other parts are downright […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: