Lifestyle & Human Interest

Farmer Takes Aerial Photo of Cows Feeding, Documents Perfect Christmas Cross


Farmers are a special breed. They have developed strengths and have access to certain resources that most city-dwellers just do not.

Aside from growing food for the rest of the country, some farmers also use their land and equipment to make messages that can only be seen from the sky. Gene Hanson from North Dakota is one of those (retired) farmers, and he has plowed political and other statements into his fields and then taken photos of them from the air.

A farmer with patience, land and a tractor can use their empty fields as a billboard, but when you throw animals in the mix, things can get much more difficult.

Animals are unpredictable. Controlling one by itself is trying enough, but getting entire herds of critters to stand right where you want them or need them to is much more complicated.

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There are really two options you have in these sorts of situations: You can use herding dogs or you can bribe the critters with food.

There’s a very well-known video out there of some shepherds who put a lot of time and effort into getting their sheep outfitted with light “jackets” and then coming together and using their dogs to herd the sheep into just the right configurations.

It’s impressive to watch, and the amount of training and finesse necessary to pull off such a stunt is mind-boggling.

Have you ever seen a message written in a field?

Livestock are also very responsive to food, as most animals are. Want your dog to behave? Offer him a treat. (This works for some people, too.

But when it comes to forming creative patterns and shapes that are visible from an aerial view, all a farmer has to do is set out the food in the shape he or she wants, and then let the animals do their thing.

Of course, to capture the setup, you also have to have a drone, a plane, or some other means of launching yourself and/or a camera high above the herd. That’s where Gene Hanson comes in.

Hanson has both a plane and a drone, and that’s how he has taken and distributed photos of his cornfield messages. His neighbor on Richard Mooch Ranch must’ve known this, so he asked for Hanson’s help capturing a unique cow-feeding setup.

Hanson took photos using his drone, and the “cow cross” result has left viewers amused and impressed.

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“It’s hard to think of a time when the phrase ‘Holy cow!’ is more appropriate,” FOX59 News wrote on their Facebook page, along with a photo of the cross-shaped herd of cows.

Of course, while this did not happen spontaneously, it’s still a wonderful example of the creativity and resourcefulness of farmers and the benefits of having friends with technology.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking