I hit snooze on the alarm and rolled over. The sun was nowhere near beginning to rise. There was no way this could be my wake up call.
The beeping returned. I think I heard my wife groan in protest. I turned off the alarm and buried my head under my pillow.
A third alarm screeched and I heard my wife starting the coffeepot. I could wait until coffee was done to crawl out of bed. Coffee might even coax me out from under the covers.
My boss texts me that she's on her way over, but I'm too asleep to hear it.
I see headlights shine through the window of the RV and read a text from my boss saying, "I'm outside". I, however, am not dressed, have no coffee in my blood, and am expected to work an eight-hour shift on a dairy farm. I rush around the RV throwing on jeans and boots (good thing I'm from Texas) and jumped into the waiting truck.
For the next eight hours, I did every dirty job you can imagine. I helped feed some pigs, each the size of a couch. I herded cattle into stalls. I mixed and distributed cow feed. Dairy cows eat about 100 pounds of feed a day, by the way. I pitched hay. I cleaned stalls. I stepped knee high into pure, fresh cow manure. I helped milk 100 cows, and all before the sun started rising over the endless cornfields.
In between milking the cows, I asked the owner of the farm, Tina, the question on my mind with every yawn.
"Why so early?"
I knew most farms started early, but 3:30 a.m. seemed a little much. We were even making the roosters mad by being up so early.
Waking up this early is the only way they would have a chance at getting everything done. The cows must be milked every 12 hours. It doesn't matter what time they are milked, but no matter what, you're in the barn milking them again 12 hours later. Plus, there are so many chores to complete throughout the day, that waking up long before the crack of dawn is the only way to finish everything on your plate.
During my long day at Hinchley's Dairy Farm in Madison, WI, I trained and worked alongside Kurt. He's been raised with agriculture, so he knows the ropes. Even on his off days, Kurt couldn't recall a time he slept in past 5:00 a.m. Kurt knew the cows by name, their tendencies, their personalities, and even memorized their food regimen. Like people, each cow is different.
Kurt is 19 years old. He's a sophomore in college and he works for $11.00 an hour doing what will forever be the hardest, smelliest, most challenging job I've ever done. He gets up early, works all day and doesn't even complain.
For every job here on out, 35 more to go, I hope to be more like Kurt. Relentlessly hard working. Never complaining. Unafraid to do the dirty work. Willing to wake up at 3:00 a.m. and work through day--even if it smells like cow manure.