Meet Stella. For the next month, I get the privilege of bottle feeding this long-legged, oreo-esque slice of God’s creation. Groups of students in my animal science class at Dordt College this semester have been given the responsibility of caring for dairy calves or ewes (female sheep) that are currently lambing (giving birth).
While the daily trips out to Dordt’s Agricultural Stewardship Center demand time commitment, most ag students consider this class requirement to be more fun than work. Caring for newborn livestock seems to encapsulate the joy and hope found in the new life that comes in the spring.
Spring is a bustling time of year on the farm. For beef producers, it’s calving season. I get a chuckle out of the way I hear big, tough farm men describing their year’s worth of inventory as “cute.” For grain farmers, it’s planting season. Every year, I notice my brother’s renewed excitement as he starts tuning up the planter well in advance of the mid-April planting commencement.
Springtime signifies a time of rebirth, fresh starts, second chances, and the start of a new journey for farmers. Their entire livelihood depends on what happens in the spring. Temperature and precipitation during the months transitioning from winter to summer play a huge role in determining the progress of planting. For example, if low soil temperatures delay planting for too long, a corn or soybean crop could likely suffer a yield loss. Melting snow combined with spring rain showers often turn tidy farmsteads into sloppy messes. Just ask the farm wives who clean up the endless mud their men track into the house.
Most of the time, however, farm families view spring with optimistic anticipation for the year ahead. Here in the Midwest, farming communities seem to spring from dormancy to energized activity overnight when the warm rays of sunshine and the lengthening days foreshadow the changing of seasons. A contagious mood of hopeful, renewed spirits spreads like wildfire. Spring is in the air.