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— Abe Voelker

Editor’s note:  I am taking the  liberty of reprinting Mr. Voelker’s tragic story, since it is being repeated, almost verbatim, here in the NYS North Country.

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This Christmas, like every other, I traveled to northern Wisconsin to stay with my parents on the dairy farm I grew up on.

As usual I took the opportunity to help my dad and younger brother with barn chores and milk cows. The cows need to be milked twice a day, every day, roughly around 4AM and 4PM. I didn’t help out every shift but I worked more than enough to once again be humbled about the life I left behind and recalibrate my nostalgia.

Speaking of which, I never had the work ethic to be a farmer. Ever since I was little and playing video games on our NES, I was enamored by electronics. By the time our family got a personal computer and dial-up internet for Christmas in 1997, when I was 11, I was completely and hopelessly sucked in. There followed many evenings where my dad would come flying in to the house to yell at me for being late for chores when I lost track of time on “that damn computer.”

Thankfully for all involved, my younger brother Noah inherited my dad’s insane work ethic and love of farming and took up the farm’s reins (he also picked up my slack when we were younger — thanks Brother). He loves the work and excels at it . . .

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