15-year-old Mitchell Miner from Iowa and his lovingly cared for and trusty cow Audri were photographed napping together at the Iowa State Fair’s youth dairy cattle show. While there are countless stories like this one about the deep bonds that can form between humans and animals, this one, in particular, one of a boy and a cow, shows just how powerful those bonds can be when we really take the time to know an animal.
Mitchell and Audri didn’t win a blue ribbon, but soon after, won the hearts of folks around the globe via this beautiful photograph, that quickly went viral online even drawing the attention of large media outlets like CBS News and Fox News and giving all of us a peek into the lives of proud hard-working Mid-westerners.
Both Mitchell and Audri were exhausted from the weeks of preparation before the contest and the day of the event both woke at 3 am to get ready for the show. According to the Des Moines Register, Mitchell Miner and his bovine pal, Audri, had spent weeks preparing for the show and after several days in a row of these early-morning wake-up calls, both boy and cow were pretty worn out.
So after the contest, (with Audri taking 5th place out of 7 contestants!), both decided to take a well-needed nap and a lucky photographer (his Dad!) snapped a photo that regardless of whether you were raised as a city kid or as a country kid, immediately tugs at your heartstrings.
Even though Audri didn’t take the top prize as Mitchell had hoped, he was still proud of all of the hard work they both put into taking care of Audri.
This viral response to this engaging photograph though caused the Des Moines Register to question, “what is it about the photo that touched people?”
They had a few ideas:
“It conjured memories for people of growing up on a farm and the love and care for they had for their animals while raising them for county fairs and 4-H shows.”
“It conjured memories of the hard work and dedication it takes to wake up at 3 a.m. for your animal.”
“People mentioned the everyday care it takes to show an animal: bathing them, clipping them and walking them nonstop.”
“For others, it’s the unusual bond that human beings are able to make with animals that are nothing like them and weigh 10 times more than them.”
However, the photo also evoked a few negative responses from the online community who wondered what would happen to this photogenic heifer once she was headed back to the farm.
Mitchell’s father, Jeremy responded on social media by reminding everyone that raising farm animals takes love and enormous care:
“Livestock is raised with more blood, sweat, tears than you will ever understand unless you choose to make your living from it. Livestock are raised with their well-being, being of the utmost Importance. Their health, comfort & well-being take precedence over our own. … Whether it’s milk or meat, we know that someday, they will fill hungry bellies. It’s never been about farmers not caring about animals.”
And: “The problem today is that fewer & fewer people don’t know where their food comes from, nor are they willing to accept the way that food gets to their table because nobody is willing to teach them this reality,” he wrote in a Facebook comment on a Register article.”
Many of us are pet owners and some of us even grew up in 4-H Clubs raising farm animals for market or for show and know not only the joy they bring us, we also know that animals most certainly understand the connection and both feel our love and return it. Young Mitchell Miner certainly knows this, according to the Des Moines Register: “She likes to lay down quite a bit.”… “She just enjoys my company.”
How about you? Do you have a favorite animal that you have bonded with or that you have a special relationship with? Did you raise livestock or participate in 4-H Clubs and state fairs as a kid? What memories does this article evoke for you?
The Des Moines Register, A boy and his heifer: We reflect on the iconic photo from Iowa State Fair a year later, August 2018. Photo credit: (Photo: Jeremy Miner/Special to the Register)
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