DES MOINES, Iowa - The story of a boy and his cow at the Iowa State Fair captures what a long day at the fair looks like after getting up a 3 a.m. for a busy day of showing.
Mitchell Miner, 15, is captured snuggling up and catching a few winks with his heifer, Audri, in a photo that has captured the hearts of the internet.
The photo, taken by his father, Jeremy, was posted to the wall of the Iowa State Fair with the caption, "Our son Mitchell and his heifer after showing yesterday."
"She likes to lay down quite a bit," Miner told the Des Moines Register. "I don't really understand the bond with my animal either. She just enjoys my company."
Miner, 15, of Williamsburg, Iowa and Audri entered the Iowa State Fair's youth dairy cattle show. They prepared for weeks with Miner leading, clipping, walking and bathing Audri nonstop up to the competition. On the day of the show, Miner woke up at 3 a.m. -- his third straight early-morning rise -- putting the final touches on Audri.
The heifer ended up placing fifth out of seven contestants, but after hard-fought competition, the two took a nap together. Miner's father, Jeremey snapped a few photos of the two and posted them on Facebook the next day.
Jeremy Miner says he and his wife both come from farming families and was surprised at the attention the photo received. "This scene plays out over and over at fairs across the nation," Miner told FOX 13. "So many people don't have the chance to experience the work and effort it takes to show livestock," he said.
Miner, who was raised on a farm, says it's not just an occupation, it's a livelihood that builds character and life skills, important values that he and his wife want to instill in their children. "We know how much those values meant to us and we wanted to make sure our kids had those values instilled as well," he said. "They need to know life isn't easy. That you have to work hard to get what you want. If it it doesn't work out, you work harder for next time."
Audri, the cow, will be heading back to a dairy farm in Blairstown later this fall -- after the family's final showing in September.