Hey there friends!
On Tuesday I posted a few pictures to my Facebook page and asked for your opinions. The first was a picture of a very well-known sculpture in Chicago, and the second was a picture of a bull. (To clarify, neither of these images are my own. All credit goes to the original photographers. Both photos were found using a Google Image search.)
I simply asked what everyone calls these two things.
On the first picture I got answers like, “the Bean,”Cloud Gate,” and “a sculpture in Chicago.”
The second picture brought out answers like, “a cow,” “a real cow,” “a dairy cow,” “a bull”, and “a Holstein bull.”
So which answer was correct?
If you ask me, all of them were.
I am a member of a Women in Agriculture group on Facebook. The group is a place for women of all ages to share experiences, questions, and accomplishments from their farm. Women are a minority in the agriculture industry, and it’s not unusual for us to feel like we are not being taken seriously. (Don’t worry- this is changing. Women and young adults are taking the Ag industry by storm right now!)
Every day there is a different post asking other women to relate. Posts like “Who else wears leggings and rubber boots to do chores,” are pretty common and give us all a little giggle. I mean, come on, we all do it.
However, last weekend I saw a post that irked me a little. I can’t remember exactly how it was worded, but someone asked if anyone else got really angry when people called a bull a cow, or mixed up any other animals’ names.
Comments flooded in with ladies agreeing and sharing other examples. It wasn’t long before the word ignorant started popping up everywhere.
I really dislike that word. Especially when we are trying to advocate for agriculture. We are not going to get anywhere by calling people ignorant.
Ignorance implies stupidity.
Are people stupid simply because they don’t know the difference between a cow and a bull?
Let’s go back to the two pictures at the top of the page. When I posted them, exactly what I expected to happen, happened. My art friends (who kept their answers to themselves, despite it driving them crazy) knew right away that the correct name for the sculpture is Cloud Gate, though it is commonly known by many others as The Bean. Likewise, friends more closely related to agriculture knew the picture was of a bull (an intact male), not a cow (a female who has already had a calf).
Where we live, what we do, and who we know all shape our knowledge. While one person understands that 2600 North Avenue runs East/West exactly 2 miles North of 2400 North Avenue in Bureau County, someone else knows that Wabash Avenue runs North/South one block East of State Street in Chicago.
See where I’m going with this?
Instead of bashing others’ lack of knowledge about something we consider to be common sense, we should be more open to conversation.
My grandpa actually just told Malena and I a story yesterday that fits so perfectly with this topic. When Grandpa was an Engineering student at the University of Illinois, he befriended many students from Chicago who had no relation to the farm. When he mentioned having cows, goats, and other animals, one of the guys asked him, “Cows… Those are the big ones, right?”
In this case, it didn’t matter if he was talking about steers, heifers, bulls, or cows. What mattered was that someone understood what this animal was. I consider the word cow to be a good, general word for this conversation. The man was not an expert in agriculture, but he learned something new that day.
That’s what “Agvocating” is all about.
If we want to make any sort of a difference, we must be willing to share our knowledge in a positive way.
I encourage everyone hoping to break into the world of agvocating to be more considerate of those seeking knowledge. Let’s stop using words like city people and ignorant. Let’s start getting excited when people ask us questions and genuinely want answers. That way, instead of people thinking of farmers as bad guys, we can start to build relationships and spread accurate information.
I truly believe we can make a good name for agriculture again. We just need to be very careful and considerate in the process.