Y is for Yuck: Messy jobs at the WKU Farm

Owensboro junior Carri Crisp, an agriculture major, milks cows several times a week at Dairy Barn on the WKU Agricultural Center .

Kayla Boyd

College can feel pretty awful sometimes when you stop and think about all of the classes, projects, homework and deadlines that are crammed into a single semester. Physically, though, few would describe college as “yuck.”

Unless of course you consider WKU’s 800-acre farm with its 60 dairy animals and 100 beef cows.

The thing is, students and employees who work there don’t think it’s yucky.

Jeremy Waddell of Three Springs is the dairy herdsman who is in charge of all things yuck on the farm at WKU.

Waddell, who is a third-generation dairy farmer, has been working on the farm since 2008. Ask him what the messiest part of his job is, and he’ll have to think a while.

“It’s part of life,” he said. “It’s not gross to me. I’ll sit and eat a donut in the barn surrounded by cows.”

Even birthing calves is just another day at work for Waddell. He assists with 95 percent of the 20 to 25 births that the farm has every year.

“I’ll run my arm up in a cow real far,” he said. “My wife thinks I’m disgusting sometimes, but it’s just work to me.”

The farm employs eight to 12 agriculture students a semester to carry out daily duties such as milking cows, feeding calves, putting up hay and fencing.

Jasper, Ind., senior Patrick Durcholz and New Castle senior William “Brad” Taylor are two students who work on WKU’s farm and who also grew up around livestock.

Durcholz is an agriculture major with a concentration in animal science who grew up around cows in a rural area. He has worked on the farm for three years and recently got a full-time job with a poultry company in his hometown. He believes the experience he has gained while working on the farm will help him in his future career.

Taylor has worked on a farm since he was 9 years old. Even though other people find his job yucky, he doesn’t give it much thought anymore.

While Durcholz said he’s used to the distinct farm smell, he finds milking the cows to the be the yuckiest part of his job.

“They like to poo and pee while milking,” he said. “I’ve gotten pooed on too many times to count.”

With a job like this, a strong stomach is absolutely necessary. From 4:30 to 6:30 a.m., Waddell feeds and milks the cows. Common tasks include dehorning, vaccinating and having vets perform ultrasounds. At 3:30 p.m., it’s time to milk and feed again, and the day ends around 6 p.m. Waddell’s job takes him to the farm seven days a week, 365 days a year.

All that work is definitely worth it, Waddell said.

“It’s always rewarding,” he said. “Getting to take care of animals, seeing they’re healthy is very rewarding.”

Durcholz agreed and said his favorite part is working with the animals.

It’s definitely a messy environment, but there’s still a certain amount of cleanliness about the farm too.

“When you have product that’s sold to the public, you want everything to be as clean as possible,” Waddell said.

He said the whole barn is cleaned out once every two months, and the bay where the cows are milked is sprayed down daily. Which is a good thing, considering Taylor said he gets pooped on every time he milks.

“Cows don’t exactly have good manners.”