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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 Dairyman.

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“Hey, man, have you tried climbing?”

I cringed. I was getting a second master’s degree in Iceland, and University Housing had placed me in a dorm.

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The world is smaller than it was several generations ago. It is often said: If a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, it could cause a tornado in Texas – suggesting just how globally connected our existence can be.

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My parents packed their bags and came to visit me on what they termed their “once-in-a-lifetime trip.” Being farmers, their opportunity to travel locally was limited, let alone to Europe.

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It was a busy road to Headford, and like all Irish country roads, it didn’t have a shoulder. I was going to the Saturday mart – the weekly livestock auction – the only way available to me: by bicycle, with my work shoes strapped on back.

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Novels set on farms are getting hard to find, and a good one is even rarer. To write about something well, one usually has to come from that experience, and few people both farm and write.

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I had started the milking early on Christmas morning so the family wouldn’t have to wait long to open presents. On the way to the parlour, I passed the sick pen. 1225 sat in the dim light, her eyes sunken and her chin in the straw.

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