Kansas State University student Greg Peterson and some friends were unwinding at a drive-in restaurant when LMFAO's song "Sexy and I Know It" came on the radio. He groaned.
But as the chorus droned on, the 21-year-old found inspiration. He switched "sexy" to "farming" as he began rapping. Then he started coming up with lyrics. It would be fun, he thought, to do a video parody with his brothers when he returned home to the family farm in central Kansas.
Peterson said the brothers aimed the video at their city friends on Facebook because they "hardly knew anything about the farm." They ended up educating the world. "I'm Farming and I Grow It" video has become an Internet sensation with more than 3.2 million views since it was posted June 25 on YouTube.
Its success has been hailed by farm groups, documented by newspapers and even won the brothers a whirlwind trip to New York City for a television appearance on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends."
Peterson said he and his family have been a little bit overwhelmed by all the attention and he's doing "some normal things" now to keep sane. On a recent morning, he was out swathing — or mowing — the prairie hay used to feed the family's cattle.
"I am just trying to rest my brain a little bit and get back to, you know, this is reality," he said by cellphone. "This is something I can understand, whereas when I was in New York, everything was just hitting my mind, and it was kind of like, 'I can't believe this, I can't believe this.'"
The 21-year-old Kansas State University senior isn't the first to parody LMFAO's club hit. Spoofs include "Elmo and I Know It," which features the popular "Sesame Street" character, "I'm Average and I Know It," and "Santa and I Know It." Most have only a few thousand hits, although the Elmo version has garnered roughly 12.7 million hits in about seven months.
Peterson's 3:32-minute video begins at the break of dawn with him and his brothers, Nathan, 18, and Kendal, 15, walking across a field of golden wheat that sways gently in the wind. The scenes then shift rapidly to the song's beat, showing the brothers doing chores, driving combines and tractors and jumping on hay bales. It ends with the three walking off into the sunset across a field where the wheat has been harvested.
One scene shows Peterson feeding cattle as he raps, "When I step to the bunk, yeah, this is what I see: All the hungry cattle are staring at me. I got passion for my plants, and I ain't afraid to show it, show it, show it. I'm farming, and I grow it."
Peterson, who's majoring in agriculture communication and journalism and minoring in music performance at Kansas State, said the video was produced with iMovie and GarageBand software. His 11-year-old sister, Laura, shot some of it on the family farm near Assaria.
Steve Baccus, the president of the Kansas Farm Bureau, said what the Peterson brothers did on their own is exactly what agriculture groups have been trying to get other farmers to do — use social media to show consumers the real faces of agriculture.
Individual farmers and industry groups have started using Twitter, YouTube and other social media in recent years to counter the messages put out by tech-savvy environmental and animal rights groups concerned about everything from water quality to the size of cages chickens are kept in.
"We think it is a great way to communicate with the consumer and give them an idea of what exactly goes on in agriculture on the farm," Baccus said. "We are being painted by some different groups in a pretty nasty vein, and that is not at all true. I think we need to get the message out there is another side of agriculture."
He said he loved the Peterson brothers' video: "I liked the way they incorporated humor into it, and I just thought they did a fantastic job."
The Peterson brothers have posted other videos about the family farm on YouTube, and Peterson said they'll make more. He keeps his iPod Touch with him as he farms, occasionally pulling it out and filming things.
"That doesn't take any extra time, or really any extra thought," he said. "It is just like, 'This is what I am doing. So I will continue to make those kinds of videos.'"
Peterson brothers' video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48H7zOQrX3U