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Eight maids-a-milking

If you ever need eight maids-a-milking, don't panic. Just remember, you live near Moo U. North Dakota State University's dairy program has several young women who could take on the job. In fact, if you scoured the area, a smitten suitor could eas...

Mary milkmaids

If you ever need eight maids-a-milking, don't panic. Just remember, you live near Moo U.

North Dakota State University's dairy program has several young women who could take on the job.

In fact, if you scoured the area, a smitten suitor could easily gather enough maids to present the Day 8 gift to make the ancient carol "The 12 Days of Christmas" come alive.

The only problem? Getting enough cows to keep them busy.

"One milkmaid alone can handle 45 to 50 cows an hour," guesses Kendra Hinnenkamp, a 20-year-old agriculture major from Brooten, Minn.

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All eight maids together "would be overkill," said Joey Myers. "We'd be bumping into each other."

Dan Schimek, the herd manager for NDSU, said he hasn't had requests for maids-a-milking, though if somebody wants to do it as a fundraiser, "we're all over it."

That comes with a caution, though: "I don't think we want to scare the cows."

At NDSU's Dairy Barn, the young women earn just more than $8 an hour, so Schimek says you could probably get a crew for $65 an hour.

Plus, modern milking makes them productive.

"One can do what eight did before and probably quicker," Schimek said.

The industry average wage is $9 to $12 an hour. But, Hinnenkamp, with the wily sense of a salesperson, senses an opportunity to drive prices up.

"We're all very talented young ladies, so it's hard to put a price on us," she said.

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Megan Malone, a 19-year-old from Wadena, Minn., is Hinnenkamp's roommate. The former dairy princess wants to be a physician's assistant, while still being involved in dairy farming.

She says her talent will help insure a milking profit for the carol's Day 8, even after you subtract the cost of earplugs.

She says she sings to the cows - though not necessarily carols and not necessarily in tune.

"It's not pretty at all. You probably want to be far away," she said.

Still, the cows like it.

"They keep up in production when I sing to them," she said.

Walking out of the barn recently, several students pondered the question. "What if someone gave you the 12 Days of Christmas?"

"It all depends on what you get," said one of the women.

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"Hey, we get five golden rings," another chimed in.

"What about the 10 hot dancing men?" pipes in a third.

"I don't know what version of the song you've been listening to," Schimek says over the laughing.

Later, Hinnenkamp confides that getting the gift of the 12 Days of Christmas would be nice.

"That would be kind of cute. It would be kind of romantic," she said.

Hinnenkamp and Malone add that their crew would be the best of the bunch in the carol, easily beating out the drummers, pipers, leaping lords and dancing ladies.

"We're beautiful girls milking cows. What more can you ask?" Hinnenkamp said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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