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RYAN DENNIS

Ryan Dennis is the son of a New York dairy farmer and a literary writer whose early essays were originally published in Progressive Dairy.

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There, at Arnarstaðir, I hoped the robot couldn’t find the teats and eventually had to give up and let the cow go. I wanted to see it fail, maybe crash with smoke rising from it, but first attain language just to admit its defeat. I know it was rude.

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Given the nature of farming, it doesn’t typically lead to a life of notoriety. Between milking, feeding and fieldwork, there isn’t much time to become a household name or stay in the public’s eye.

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Whenever my father needed to motivate himself while working on the farm, he would say, “Come on, man, rock ’n’ roll.”

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At one point, the FBI monitored his movements and kept a file on him. Since then, he has been awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom, inducted into the California Hall of Fame, had a holiday declared in his honour in three states and, finally, an asteroid named after him.

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When rust first appeared on the tailgate, my father put a Superman decal over it ... After the bumper rotted away, he dragged out a beam of reinforced steel he had laying around the shop and welded it in place.

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One of the cruel aspects of getting old, for those lucky enough to have made it that far, is requiring care from someone else. Nursing homes, in addition to being expensive, are the biggest fear of the elderly heading toward dependence.

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