As a calf is born, a next-generation cattleman gains some confidence

It has been a rather adventurous fall for me here on the farm. I have had a combination of various tasks to accomplish every week and for me that is a usual occurrence.

Wyatt Lawrence looks to the future as a next-generation cattleman. (Marytina Lawrence/Special to Agweek)

It has been a rather adventurous fall for me here on the farm. I have had a combination of various tasks to accomplish every week and for me that is a usual occurrence.

As our cattle business has grown and progressed, my sons have become more and more involved in the daily workings of the farm. As a result, my husband has the confidence to spend more time at the sod farm. Somewhere in between, as this transformation has taken place, gradually, I might add, I have taken on more responsibility.

At 17 and 18, my sons are grown and an invaluable help to the day-in and day-out functionality of the farm and cattle management. However, there are a couple of things that can happen that still make them slightly insecure and in need of guidance - that's where I seem to fit these days. Calving problems are considered "Dad's" area of expertise. The challenge lies in timing, and, in most cases when a problem arises, dad is unavailable.

I was on my way home from an appointment last week when I received a distress call from my oldest son, Wyatt, concerning a cow due to calve that had begun her process. The concern stems from the fact that she has not always been successful in delivering a calf on her own and that makes us apprehensive.

Of course the farmer husband was not available and had already been called, and discussion concerning this cow had taken place between he and my son. The overall discussion included a call in to the vet to put them on notice in case their services would be required.


Upon arriving home I was briefed by my oldest son that he had taken the initiative to check on her and determined that the calf was positioned correctly to be born, but it didn't appear that the labor was progressing as it should. At this moment I shifted gears from business woman and mom to full on farmer's wife.

I changed clothes, grabbed the gloves, visited with my husband and headed for the barn to help my son. Upon close inspection it was very clear that for some reason, the calf was not progressing up into the birth canal and was going to require more assistance. Trading off, my son and I worked tirelessly to ease the calf out of that warm spot of mama's womb and into the light.

There is a time when you must decide if you will need help, as time becomes of the essence for the health of mother and calf, and we made the decision to have the vet sent. However, as we waited for the vet to arrive, my son continued to work through delivery of this calf. I watched him step into a new role in his life as a future cattleman.

With great peace and calm, he spoke gently to the cow and helped that young life progress toward birth. As the vet arrived and I began giving him the needed details, my son came to the realization there in the barn that he could do this.

As the story goes, our vet entered the barn and assisted in the very last tug that brought the calf into the light and all was good. But the most significant piece of the story is the growth of my son in his confidence and grace for what is destined to be his lifelong career.

As that healthy bull calf lay there adjusting to his new environment, I was touched by the sense of accomplishment my son developed before my very eyes. My husband and I are blessed to have raised a cattleman for the next generation. That is something I will always cherish.


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Mikkel Pates set the standard for agricultural journalism during his 44-year career in the region, working for Agweek, The Forum and the Worthington Globe.
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