With one glance at Christine Leonard’s Instagram profile you’d see she is a cow loving, cattle dog training, cheese board crafting, dairy enthusiast. Today, Leonard, a herdsman at her family’s 45-cow tie-stall operation in Waconia, Minn., can also add budding dairy industry advocate to her growing résumé.
Just a few short months ago, however, Leonard was just like you and I. Sharing a few cow photos and dairy facts here and there, but never really diving all-in to becoming a dairy advocate on social media. It wasn’t until she participated in a Faces of Agriculture (@Facesof_ag) Instagram takeover when Leonard truly discovered her knack for engaging with consumers online.
“I follow a lot of farmers on Instagram and I was inspired by some of their creativity,” Leonard says. “I had recently heard some consumers say that cows don’t like going into barns, but actually, they do! So, I decided to film a video of our cows coming into the barn on their own.”
Using the hyperlapse video feature on her phone’s camera, Leonard discovered a unique way to showcase how her animals were cared for.
“I took my phone and set it on top of our feed cart and thought, ‘Let’s just see how this goes.’ I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but the cows came in the barn and a few of them sniffed my phone which was pretty funny,” she says. “I shared the video on social media, and it showed that the girls know which stalls are theirs and that they wantto come in the barn.”
After posting her initial hyperlapse video to social media, Leonard was inspired to create more unique social media content. To date, she has filmed several videos covering topics such as assisted calving, milking procedures and even how to prepare a cheese board on an airplane!
“Every time I think I’m so sick of posting, I share a new video of the farm and people think it’s really cool,” Leonard says. “Dairy farmers, and farmers in general, are going through some rough times. It’s okay to complain about the times on social media some, but consumers don’t really want to see all of the negative. Hopefully, these videos can give them a good laugh and help them understand what we do.”
When it comes down to it, Leonard, also known as @ChristineWithTheCows on Instagram, is proud of the lighthearted, yet informational videos she has crafted for consumers to enjoy. Within every video, however, Leonard works hard to incorporate one true principle.
“Education is always the goal,” she says. “If you’re not telling your story, somebody else is. We need to show what we are doing and explain how and why we are doing it. By doing that, I think we are giving consumers something to see for themselves, which in the end, makes them feel more comfortable about knowing where their food is coming from.”
Ok so I actually took this video on Friday because cows are funny and I thought I'd get some cool video of them while they're out during their recess in the cow yard. What you can see is that they roamed around eating and socializing for a little bit. What you can't see (I couldnt get the right angle unfortunaly) is them all crowded around the door waiting to get back in the barn. Our dairy barn is tunnel ventilated. This means one end is as open as we can get it, and on the other end we have 6 HUGE fans that pull air through the barn. Milking cows are basically just heaters (a benefit during the other half of the year 😂😅) but keeping them cool can be a struggle. The fact that they are wanting to come back in the barn reassures me that we must be doing something right. #beattheheat #keepingcool #ijustreallylikecowsok