After a couple of licks, the baby calf got up, wobbled ever so slightly and then confidently turned its attention to nursing.
It could be any farm or ranch across the country on any given day, but it just so happens that this day, he had an audience.
More than 120 people were touring a Tennessee cattle farm where I was an observer of their observations. The general manager told the lead bus driver to stop as he explained, “In five or ten minutes, that baby will stand for the first time. Its mother will clean him off and instinct will send him straight back to his mama’s udder.”
As if on cue, the minutes-old baby did just that. I may have even felt the bus lean as the passengers craned to the driver’s side to get a good look and take pictures through the window. It was a magic moment. … one we often take for granted.
“It’s pretty special to get to watch and experience nature every day in your backyard,” the producer said.
It was obvious to those gathered, from Chicago to Charlotte, Nevada to New York and beyond.
He probably said it just to remind himself. As we headed to the farm’s sale facility for lunch, groups played a feedstuffs identification game, guessed how long a hay bale would feed a cow and tried to determine the age of a calf.
But that day’s newborn was the hot topic.
“Did you see that on your bus, too?” my lunch seatmate asked.
Taking in their excitement gave me a new perspective on the miracle. Perhaps in the midst of a Rocky Mountain blizzard or Midwestern mud, tagging calves feels like a chore more often than not. Perhaps the alfalfa stand that recovers after a mid-summer hailstorm seems more like science than a surprise.
And maybe the artificial insemination breeding percentage is more a number to track and improve than a chance marvel at what the bovine female can do.
I get it. I’m as much about the science and technology and improving profit as the next person.
I love diving into the numbers and charts, figuring out how this management practice or that decision can help producers. That’s all vital to thriving in an ever-evolving business.
Take your time
Don’t quit studying, making plans and looking for innovation. But don’t miss the miracles.
Beef consumers aren’t likely to connect with your thoughts on a weaning schedule or pre-breeding vaccinations, but those things you may consider mundane?
They’re like magic to them. When you’re busy with the day-to-day stewardship of your part in this circle of life, leave room for some awe at all things bright and beautiful.
Maybe you can share that. Consider opening your farm or ranch to a consumer or beef marketer group, or invite your kid’s soccer team out for visit.
Show them the sunset from your favorite point, let them feed calves out of their hands or inhale the scent of freshly cut alfalfa.
Sometimes it just takes a little time in a pasture with fresh and wondering eyes to help us all fully appreciate the everyday.
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