Fitz Elder (St. Anselm’s Abbey School) and Matthew Nalls (Summit Christian Academy)
Today was a change of pace for the HSLP. Our day began bright and early with a bus ride to the Cub Run Dairy farm in the Shenandoah Valley. Our delve into dairy culture kicked off with the ultrasound of a pregnant heifer. As we witnessed the veterinarian perform the ultrasound, we saw the future of the dairy industry in the form of an unborn cow calf.
Gerald’s wife, Anita, then brought us to a shed to see where the Heatwoles kept newly born calves. The highlight of the day came when, purely by chance, we saw a young calf – Anita said it couldn’t have been more than thirty minutes old – stand and eat for the first time in its life.
As we reluctantly left the newborn behind, we arrived at the building where the “middle aged” cows (no longer calves but not yet old enough to produce valuable milk) were kept. Finally, we saw the adult cows. These amazingly efficient heifers were capable of producing dozens of gallons of milk per day and eating 80 lbs. of feed each day!
Next, Gerald and Anita’s son Monty led us to see their new state-of-the-art milking parlor. Whatever pre-conceived notions we might have harbored about dairy farms were put to rest when we saw the stainless steel ducts, valves, and precision machinery that have, over the course of the last few decades, transformed the field from a sleepy family affair into an industry that Henry Ford would have been proud of.
After leaving the dairy farm, we proceeded to Harrisonburg ,where we ate a delectable lunch at Capital Ale House and listened to Kai Degner, previous mayor of Harrisonburg and one-time candidate for Congress, teachus how to be better listeners and how to have constructive and productive conversations in the face of political disagreement. We then continued on to James Madison University. We went on an informative tour with Joshua Humphries, an alumnus of JMU and current lobbyist for the university. After an enjoyable stroll through the campus, we returned to Bice, bringing an end to a long but fulfilling day.