I've written before about our children and their bottle calves. At this point in the game, Jenna has had two calves - Buttercup and Dorothy - and Nathan has had two calves - Don and Buddy.
Jenna was 7 when she got her first calf, and Nathan was 6. We have been reasonably adamant in our household that they would not have a calf until they were old enough to go out and care for it themselves. All the calves have come from our cows, and were either twins the cow couldn't care for, or was a calf the cow wouldn't claim, or we lost the cow at calving.
In general, this means the calf has joined the family on or around February. From February until about June, Jenna or Nathan gets up every morning before school and gives it a bottle, fills its water and offers up a little hay. They do the same thing in the evening. On the weekends, they spend a little time cleaning out their pen. With a pitchfork and a wheelbarrow. They do good work.
And by the time June rolls around, it's time for show season and bottle calf classes. I take a fair degree of pride in knowing that the calves my kids show really are their calves - they have fed and named and cared for them, as opposed to us grabbing a calf from the pasture and letting the kids show it for a day. And there's little that warms your heart like watching your child develop into an animal lover; when I can't find Nathan, there's a sure bet he's hanging out with his calf.
The upshot of all this? The start of a showing fund, sure, but also the chance to manage their money. To learn to work. To learn animal husbandry. To learn to feed their animals before they eat their own breakfast.
This is the stuff little farm kids are made of, and bottle calves help them get there.
The archives: 30 Days on a Prairie Farm
Kickoff: 30 Days on a Prairie Farm
Day 1: Working Kids
Day 2: Biotechnology
Day 3: Harvest Eats
Day 4: Church
Day 5: Biotechnology, Again
Day 6: Long Haul
Day 7: Hormones
Day 8: Weather
Day 9: Milk
Day 10: County Fairs
Day 11: Harvest
Day 12: Technology
Day 13: Show Ring
Day 14: Leave the Farm
Day 15: Dialogue
Day 16: Store Grain
Day 17: Love
Day 18: Kid Love
Day 19: Straight Rows
Day 20: Antibiotics
More "30 Days" farm blogs
Looking for more 30 Days goodness? My Generation has friends and we're all blogging a "30 Days" series in November. Check out what these farm bloggers are talking about this month.
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Black Ink: Beef's a Trip - 30 Days from Gate to Plate
Confessions of a Farm Wife: 30 Days of Life on our Farm
Le Jardin da ma Vie: 30 Reasons Why I Love Being a Farmer's Wife
Go Go Bookworm: 30 Days of Farm Kid Stories
Kelly McCormick Photography: 30 Days of Thankfulness
Pinke Post: 30 Days of a North Dakota November
Go Beyond the Barn: 30 Days of Farm Life Blessings
Rural Route 2: 30 Days of the Not-So-Glamorous Life of This Farm Wife
Touching Families: 30 Days of a Town Girl Touched by the Farming Life
This Land, This Life, This Farmer's Wife: 30 Days of Thankfulness on a Family Farm
Farmgirldays: 30 Days of Farm Kids Trapped in the City
My Cows and Pigs: 30 Days of "What's that?"
Dennis Olmstead: 30 Days in a Row
White House on the Prairie: 30 Days, 30 Posts
A Colorful Adventure: 30 Days of JP