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Farming is definitely no walk in the park. Most farmers work hard all of their lives and still barely eke out a living. Still, farming has its perks—especially if you like animals. Farmers who work with animals can specialize in many different disciplines. For example, livestock and cattle farmers raise cows for milk and meat. They feed the cattle with corn and hay, care for them when they get sick, and provide shelter for them when the weather is bad. If the cows are dairy cows, they must be milked twice a day—once early in the morning and once at night. The milk must be cleaned and purified and then shipped to a bottling company so it can be sold to consumers. After the cows are milked, the farmer spends time “mucking” the milking stalls, washing away the cow paddies and sweeping out dust and dirt. The milking equipment must also be cleaned and prepared for the next run.

Poultry farmers work with chickens. They raise chicks until they grow into adults. The hens are then ready to lay eggs and the roosters can be sold for meat. On “free range” farms, farmers let them run and move about in spacious fenced-off areas. When the hens lay their eggs, the farmer collects them and sells them. Other animal farmers work with sheep. They raise the sheep and shear their wool for use in making sweaters, blankets, and other items. Still others work as beekeepers. They sell honey collected from the beehives and lend bees to other farmers who use them to pollinate crops.

Whatever animals the farmer works with, the job often involves the same basic tasks. Animals must be fed and given water. Stalls and pens must be cleaned and fences and equipment must be maintained. Animals must be loaded onto trucks, unloaded into pastures, and herded into barns or cages. They must be watched closely for injuries and diseases, and helped when it's time to give birth. If an animal becomes sick, the farmer is the first to know and must do what he can to help it. He might treat it himself, or, if it's serious, he might call a veterinarian to come in and do the work.

These days, the farmer's workday rarely ends when the sun goes down. Most farmers now use computers to help manage their businesses and spend time every day (or night) updating their records and checking on sales and expenses. Farm machinery—like tractors and hay balers—must be serviced and repaired. Buildings require upkeep. If a farmer has just a few employees or no employees at all, it's easy to imagine how hard all of this work must be. Still, most farmers wouldn't trade their jobs for anything in the world. For them, making an honest living off the land while working with animals is worth the effort.

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