It almost seems like an odd similarity how the color of the green screen at the large shop where Derek Klingenberg works in rural Peabody matches the green color of the heavy John Deer machinery in the same building.
But it?s really not. That color flows through two parts of Klingenberg?s life ? his work and his hobby, which the 35-year-old brings together in videos. His work is farming, and his hobby is making videos, some of which have gone quite viral on the Web. Klingenberg works with his brother and father at Klingenberg Farms Inc. in rural Peabody.
His first video that went viral, ?What Does the Farmer Say?,? is a parody of the song ?What Does the Fox Say?? Although the fox video has almost 500 million views, Klingenberg?s video has a respectable 6 million. Klingenberg has a YouTube channel called Farmer Derek Klingenberg.
Klingenberg said he utilized the green screen in ?What Does the Farmer Say?? However, there is something he can?t film in front of the green screen.
?I can?t do any John Deere in front of it because it makes it invisible,? Klingenberg said, sitting comfortably behind his work desk. ?I ordered (the green screen) online in LA, and it works great.? He?s had the screen for two years.
Klingenberg said he can film anytime he wants to in front of it. At least one of the scenes in the ?Farmer? video utilizes the green screen ? it?s when he?s singing in front of the night sky.
Other videos he?s done include ?Serenading the Cattle with My Trombone,? which has more than 8 million hits; ?Do You Want to Drive My Tractor?? (parody of ?Frozen?) with 861,199 views as of March 18; ?Ranching Awesome? (?Thrift Shop? parody) with more than 1 million views; and his cow art.
The cattle/trombone video, which is an original, shows Klingenberg walking in front of the camera. He looks into the camera while holding his trombone and puts a finger to his lips in a ?sshhh? motion. He sits on the chair and begins to play ?Royals? by Lorde. In the distance is a hill, and gradually cows slowly start walking over it in his direction. Toward the end of the video, the cows are just a few feet away from him, mooing and staring.
Klingenberg said he trained the cows to come to the sound of the trombone playing by rewarding them with food.
?It got 4 million (views) in four days,? Klingenberg said of that video. ?It was insane.?
Viewers have left many comments on YouTube about the cattle/trombone video. One wrote, ?OK, (cows) are good for three things ? beef, milk and listening to the trombone.?
Another viewer wrote, ?Actually, many farmers play music in barns all day because it keeps them calm. It also helps stimulate milk flow. My entire family has for generations.?
?This is weird and wonderful,? another viewer wrote. ?Just?the miracle of the Internet, the fast pace and connectivity of the world has allowed us to find out that practicing your trombone in a field can turn you into a cow whisperer.?
Music is where all of this started for Klingenberg. For about three to four years, Klingenberg was in a bluegrass band called The Possum Boys. The group disbanded, and Klingenberg had written some original songs, like ?Bumble Bees in the Hay.? From there, he decided to make music videos, such as for the bumble bees song.
Throughout much of his schooling, Klingenberg played the trombone, although for The Possum Boys, he was on the banjo.
He also had been doing video work for Prairie Harvest in Newton and the Mid Kansas Co-op; he quit that and started to strictly focus on YouTube.
?And then I started doing farm parodies,? Klingenberg said.
His first one that went viral was ?What Does the Farmer Say?,? which was posted on YouTube about a year ago.
In January, he started doing cow art videos. Cow art is a concept Klingenberg created. To do the art form, Klingenberg spread out feed for the cows to eat in the shape of something ? he?s done a pi symbol, a smiley face and a heart ? and the cows gather to eat, which forms the shape.
?People kept telling me to get a drone,? he said. ?Then (I) came up with that idea and got one immediately.?
He uses the drone, a DJ1 Phantom 2 with a Go Pro camera attached to it, to hover over the cows and film the cow art. He?s at #CowArt on Twitter, and did the pi shape because of the recent Pi Day.
?The original cow art one took off with the smiley face,? Klingenberg said.
His videos have taken off so much, in fact, that he?s been featured in a variety of media, including NBC Nightly News. Journalist Harry Smith from NBC did a story on him, which aired a few days after Valentine?s Day. The 3.5-hour shoot was edited to a 2-minute segment at the end of the news, which is when the news does a ?fun thing,? Klingenberg said.
?That was fun,? the farmer said. ?(Smith?s) cool as heck. Yeah, we had fun.?
In addition, comedian, actress and talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted his trombone video. He also has been featured on the People magazine website and in ?some email thing they have.?
He?s been interviewed on Skype by overseas journalists and has sold his trombone video to animal-themed TV stations, Klingenberg said.
?It?s weird,? Klingenberg said about all the attention and popularity. ?Who woulda thought??
Klingenberg, who has an agriculture business degree from Kansas State Univer?sity, enjoys making the videos.
?It?s all for fun,? he said. ?At the same time, it?s a good PR thing for agriculture. So the ag industry really appreciates it. It?s just a hobby. Sometimes, I might take it a little too seriously.?
Klingenberg likes the whole creation side of the videos.
?I come up with things and try to make a video about it,? he said, adding he gets stressed when filming but really likes editing. ?It?s fun to make things come to life.?
Some of the ?actors? in his videos are the farm?s cows. He doesn?t know if any of the cows have appeared in more videos than other cows.
?They all look the same except the brown one,? Klingenberg said. The ?brown one? is a lone brown cow in a sea of black cows in the pi video. He didn?t notice it until someone pointed out to him. Also featured in some videos are his children.
The farm operation buys stocker cows, which go into the Flint Hills to graze, and they?re raised as beef cows. They also grow soybeans, wheat and corn. Klingenberg also has at least one other job.
?I do a lot of welding,? he said.
That he does ? welding farming with singing and parodies, as well as preparing a large planter for corn planting April 1.
Klingenberg mostly does the films by himself, he said, although Bethel College student Kyle Riesen has assisted in filming some drone projects.
?I have one video where the drone?s flying around me,? Klingenberg said.
Klingenberg was motivated by work of the Peterson Farm Bros, who live near Lindsborg, after he noticed their videos were taking off. Their parody of ?Gangnam Style,? called ?Farmer Style,? has more than 15 million views on YouTube.
?I was already doing videos, but they inspired me to try parodies,? he said.
The Peabody farmer isn?t really sure where his ideas come from.
?I?ve no idea,? he said. ?They?re just there. I?m just finally putting them to good use. I enjoy it, that?s for sure.?
by Wendy Nugent