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Big changes come in small packages

Jacob Geis for Progressive Cattle Published on 25 October 2021

Normally, something that is 6 pounds 11 ounces doesn’t slow me down much. Throw it in my backpack while hunting, I hardly notice it, or add that to a calf’s weight, it doesn’t change the difficulty of the cesarean section much. But when it has big blue-gray eyes and thinks sleeping at night is for the weak, then it has my attention.

Yes, my wife and I have finally joined the ranks of parenthood. With the birth of our lovely daughter, Mitzi Elizabeth, this summer, our lives underwent a major, positive adjustment. She looks just like her dad, so much so that Carolyn says no one could ever question her honor. However, her expressions and attitude are 100% her mother, which I never tire of reminding my wife about.

With that being said, the cattle look at the massive shift in our lives with an expression of, “What gives; we do this every year, dude.” The chores, the work and the fall run are still upon us, but now we must meet these annual challenges with a tiny person in tow. And right, wrong or otherwise, we’re taking them on with her literally in tow.

For example, when we did pre-weaning shots for the calves last month, my little “supervisor” came along to make sure we did things OK. As I ran the chute and worked the calves, Mitzi sat in the Gator with her mother, commenting to me and her grandfather about every detail of the event in a language only she understands. Later, she helped me build fence from the comfort of her car seat, though I did get her to hold the fencing pliers while I put in a steel post.

But I have to admit, I’m not getting work done as quickly with her along. Something about popping the pacifier back in, changing a diaper and administering a bottle on a consistent basis keeps me from being as efficient. In the process, she might get a little good, clean dirt, but that’s OK.

And the long-term effect of this tag-along time is OK too. Carolyn and I don’t want our daughter to grow up just like any other kid; we want her to grow up on a farm. It isn’t enough that we live 15 to 20 miles from town, she has to get out of the house in order to have the real farm experience. Sure, it’s not as convenient to manage a baby while moving steers, but in 10 years when she knows how to guide the cows, it will be worth it. You don’t raise a farm kid in four walls, you raise one sitting on the arm rest of the tractor while making hay.

So, between the cows and the corn rows, we’ll keep bringing this little girl along. I’m sure this adventure will become more and more delightful every step of the way. And I’ve got two years to figure out what to say when she starts asking “why?” to everything around bull turnout time. It’ll probably take that long to come up with a good answer.  end mark

PHOTO: Jake Geis' daughter, the ranch foreman, making sure the crew and her dad are working the cattle right. Also pictured, her mother who makes sure the diaper is dry. Photo by Jake Geis.

Jacob Geis is a veterinarian and blogger in Freeman, South Dakota.

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