7/24/2017 9:52:00 AM An ear tag proposal Schwartz asks for Bodley's hand in marriage with help from a calf
Sam Schwartz proposed to his fiancé Shelby Bodley by writing, “Will you marry me?” on ear tags he put into the ears of Bodley’s favorite calf on the dairy where he is a herdsman near Waukon, Iowa. PHOTO SUBMITTED
WAUKON, Iowa - When Sam Schwartz decided to propose to his girlfriend, Shelby Bodley, he knew it was only fitting to include something dairy-related since farming has been a part of their dating and will be a part of their future. On June 17, Schwartz proposed to Bodley by writing, "Will you marry me?" on two pink ear tags and put them in the ears of one of Bodley's favorite calves on the 275-cow dairy near Waukon, Iowa, where Schwartz is a herdsman. "The calf means so much to her so it made sense," Schwartz said. Two weeks after getting her ring, Schwartz then spent another two weeks planning the event with the help of one of Bodley's close friends. "We threw out a lot of ideas and it came together over time," Schwartz said. "It was a hard secret to keep." The day before the proposal, Schwartz told Bodley a fictional story about how he had purchased a new heifer calf at a sale. "He pretty much told me he bought another animal just to make sure it was OK with me and I just said, 'It's not my money. I can't tell you what to do,'" Bodley said. "I wasn't surprised when he called and told me he bought a heifer because he's done that before." Schwartz also had his sister and mom in on the secret. The two contacted Bodley about going to lunch the day of the proposal. "That Saturday I had to be out to his mom and dad's at noon. Since his parents live right past the farm, and you need to go past the farm to get to his parents' house, he said he would go with me and then help his dad outside while we went to lunch. On the way there, he asked if I wanted to go see the new heifer calf at the farm," Bodley said. But Schwartz had never purchased a calf. Instead, he tagged the ears of one of Bodley's favorite calves, one that had been 1-month premature. "She was born really small and is the sweetest little thing. I just love her," Bodley said about the calf. When Bodley saw the calf with the proposal in her ear tags, she answered the question with a yes. "Ironically on our way out to the farm, I had asked how this calf was doing and how she was growing, not even thinking she would be part of a proposal," Bodley said. To capture the moment, Schwartz had two of Bodley's friends hiding nearby to videotape and take pictures of the event. Bodley said she did not expect a proposal that day, but thought it all went well. "He loves his cattle, and I think that's another reason why the proposal is so special because dairy is such a big part of his life. It was really fitting for us as a couple and for our life together," she said. The two met in high school and were friends. "I always told my friends I would never date Sam because he's like my brother," Bodley said. But the two became a couple during Bodley's senior year and Schwartz's junior year of high school. "Everyone said we were going to get married," Bodley said. "... here we are five years later - engaged." Early on in their relationship they went to movies and out to eat; however, as they spent more time together, they also spent more time at the farm. Milking cows and tractor rides have each been considered date nights for Bodley and Schwartz. "Sometimes going to the farm is the only time I get to see him, especially during this time of year and into the fall," Bodley said. But that doesn't bother Bodley, who didn't grow up on a farm; rather, she embraces it. "I've grown to love it. I would love to be in the dairy industry when I'm done with school," said Bodley, who is a senior at the University of Northern Iowa studying business management. Although Schwartz did not grow up on a dairy farm, either, he has always considered the farm where he now works to be his home farm. Since he lived down the road from the farm while growing up, he spent a lot of time there, cultivating his love for the dairy industry and for farming. "I love his drive and passion for what he does. Once he gets an idea or finds a way to improve the farm he's working on, he goes for it," Bodley said. "He's very driven and I really admire that about him." Likewise, Schwartz said Bodley keeps him grounded. "I bring a lot of my work thoughts home, and she's very good about listening to them and being honest when I talk about them. If I'm worked up about something, she's good about handling it and working with me to settle me down," Schwartz said. Bodley and Schwartz are planning an October 2019 wedding and would like to include dairy in the theme of the day. "It's a huge part of our life so it would be fitting for it to be part of that day," Schwartz said. They will be having their wedding in a friend's barn and want to incorporate dairy in subtle ways throughout the day. Whatever the plans for the wedding, they know their future started on the right foot - with an ear tag proposal on the farm. "It was perfect," Bodley said about the proposal. "He captured our life, our interests and what we will base our lives and family on - farming and agriculture. It couldn't have been more fitting for us."