My wife and I recently attended the Central Plains Dairy Expo, an event that involved – prepare to be astonished! – anything and everything related to dairy.
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Photography: Jennifer Carrico

Expo festivities kicked off with its Welcome Reception and Banquet. If there were any doubts that this was a dairy event, they were erased when my wife and I visited the buffet, which featured approximately 200 different kinds of cheese. It was cloud nine for curd connoisseurs.

While we ate, an emcee took the stage and introduced three guests of honor, Holley, Harriet, and Jolene. The intrepid trio are costumed mascots who are two Holstein cows and a Jersey cow, respectively. I’m glad that Jerseys are finally receiving the recognition they deserve. Jerseys are a diminutive breed that have long been looked down upon by their larger bovine sisters, like a small and timid college freshman who hopes to join a snooty sorority.

During the meal, an auctioneer took the stage and auctioned off donated items. They included such things as a truckload of straw and a ginormous tarp that could either be used to cover a silage pile or as starter kit for someone who wants to launch a circus. I was tempted to bid on a large cylindrical brush – it was the size of a 55-gallon barrel – that slowly rotates whenever something rubs against it.

Cows love such brushes. I was thinking that it would be nice to have one installed in our living room for those times when a guy gets an itch in a hard-to-reach area. I wanted to bid on it, but my wife said no.

As I returned from an important mission that involved fetching dessert – I was forced to choose between a dozen different flavors of locally-produced ice cream – a young guy who was dining with his family at a nearby table stopped me to say hi.

The young guy, whom I would guess was 14, said that he’s a big fan of my column and that it’s one of his favorite things to read.

His comments were deeply gratifying. They were also surprising, and not just because he’s a young person who actually reads instead of mindlessly watching TikTok videos. I was also shocked to learn that I have a reader of such tender years. I’d assumed that many of my readers are closer to the Social Security set than to the high school sophomore demographic.

I was perusing Expo exhibits the next day when an unmistakably English accent caught my ear. I find English accents to be both charming and imposing. Maybe it’s an echo from our nation’s colonial past.

I had stopped to chat with the English lady when an English friend of mine happened to stroll by. Catching him by the sleeve, I said, “You have to talk to this lady!”

For the next several minutes, I listened with immense pleasure as the two of them palavered about the people and places they had in common. I believe I heard such elegant-sounding words as “Totteringtonshire” and “Upper Piffledown,” but was hugely disadvantaged because I’m not versed in the Queen’s English. I wished I’d had an interpreter.

Hearing those two English persons conversing made me feel as though I was in an episode of Bridgerton. Except that the young lady was in a booth that featured a footbath. And not the type of footbath where you would soak your tender tootsies, but the kind that’s used to keep dairy cows from getting digital dermatitis. This put a slight damper on the elegance factor.

I looked forward to the second morning of the Expo because it offered free pancakes. Free works for me.

A middle-aged guy whose name is Tim Cook was cooking flapjacks on a humungous stainless-steel griddle. Tim’s pancake rig featured a trough-like device that dropped blobs of batter at precise intervals as it rolled down the griddle. Once the pancakes were cooked, Tim would flick them effortlessly onto paper plates.

Whenever a youngster got to the head of the line, Tim would hand them a paper plate and encourage them to catch their hotcakes. Tim’s throws were both very high and uncannily accurate. He’d obviously had a lot of practice.

I chatted with Tim after the pancake feed was over. Asked how many flapjacks he’d flipped that day, Tim replied, “All of them!”

I learned that Tim is a former farmer from Pocahontas, Iowa, and has been involved with the pancake business, which is called Chris Cakes, for many years.

Tim said that he has flipped literally millions of flapjacks. Pancakes that were made all the more delicious thanks to generous pats of real dairy butter.

The ACCC was due to present its final findings on the proposed acquisition on September 14, but eastAUSmilk said it had delayed the report indefinitely, pending receipt of further information from the parties involved (Coles and Saputo).

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