Note: This guest blog comes from Hannah Pagel, an Iowa State University sophomore majoring in agriculture and society. This year, Hannah also brings her farm background, her talents, and her enthusiasm to an internship at CAST, where she is a student administrative assistant.
Cow Paintings Portray Stories of Agriculture
This past year I have done a lot of painting, and in particular cow paintings. I started these works of art after my mom asked me to paint her a picture of a cow for a theme she was going with in her new kitchen. Since that request, I have painted more than 10 cow paintings. I thought my paintings could be used to share my stories of agriculture. And so with that, enjoy my paintings and a story of my life to go along with it.
The first cow painting I accomplished was the one my mom requested. It now hangs in our kitchen and fills the room with a splash of color. I decided to name the painting “Dolly,” because this cow painting reminded me of the first cow I showed at the county fair.
Now I’m not saying that my first cow was rainbow colored, but she had some features that reminded me of one—like her colorful personality. When I first showed Dolly I was in the 7th grade, and she wasn’t a cow at this time either—she was a heifer, which is a female who has not given birth to a baby calf. After they have given birth to a calf they then become a cow.
You Can Learn a Lot from a Cow
Dolly was one of my favorite animals I ever showed; she was a black-bodied beauty with a white head, white tail, and four white socks from her ankles down. Every time I scratched behind her ears they would start to flap, kind of like Dumbo’s ears when he would fly. I learned a lot from Dolly that year—how to provide her with new fresh feed and clean water, how to wash her and keep that black coat of hers shiny, and how to keep her comfortable in the hot July weather. There were times when Dolly had three fans directly on her to keep her cool.
All of these lessons are a part of showing cattle at county fairs and learning how to properly take care of an animal. That summer I learned the true meaning of hard work and the dedication it takes to raise an animal. I mean who wouldn’t want to spend their summer in a smelly barn cleaning out dirty bedding and replacing it with fresh wood shavings on the daily? To me it was all part of the experience—catching my glimpse of what farmers and ranchers go through every day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Being able to take part in this experience, I have been able to grow as an individual and I have learned life lessons—hard work, dedication, and compassion—all from caring for a cow.
The lessons I learned in the 7th grade have stuck with me today and have helped me develop a strong work ethic. Even though I may be too old to show now, I still have the memories and experiences sticking with me of those hot summers working with my cattle. I may have moved on to painting cows instead of showing cows, but if you can find a way to paint your passion then nothing can stop you from working to achieve your goals in life.
by Hannah Pagel, Iowa State University sophomore and student administrative assistant at CAST (pictured above with her dad and brother)