Aug. 10 2023 10:06 AM

The innocence of our youngest animals reminds us of the simple things in life.

Even on the worst day, a baby calf can make you smile. They only really want one thing, and that’s food. Unlike the cows, our youngest calves can’t graze, nor do they quite understand that milk isn’t the only food available to them. Now, I’m not talking about calves that are a month old or older. I’m talking about the babies that are new and ready to take on the world. To them, the world revolves around the milk bucket or bottle. If they see you, they think you have food, so they instantly get excited and start bobbing their heads awaiting your arrival. It’s quite comedic to watch them go crazy over a bottle of milk, but the pure innocence is what makes you smile.

Calf noses come in all different shapes and colors. Some are pink, some are white, and some are speckled. Most calves have rounded noses, but every now and then you’ll have a calf with a pointed nose. Just like us, each one is unique and different. Each one is fearless yet timid. How many times I’ve seen a calf nose poke out from a board or hutch and a calf’s neck be fully stretched because it’s afraid to get too close is uncanny. They are adorable and cute and totally pure in their own little world.

As farmers, we spend countless hours worrying about their health, growth, and happiness; they only care about the food. That pure innocence and naivety is refreshing for us as we go about day-to-day life. Unlike us, calves don’t have bills to pay, crops to plant and harvest, or any other care in the world. They just have to look cute, eat, sleep and stay healthy. Even their health isn’t a concern to them as we are the ones to care for them.

We get caught up in the day-to-day life, and calves are a great way to relax for a minute and enjoy the pure innocence in front of us. Working next to a calf hutch or stall and suddenly seeing an adorable little nose sticking out smelling your arm will instantly turn the worst of days around. Their unique noses bring out their unique characters on a daily basis. If our lives were as simple as a calf’s life, we’d have it made. At the end of the day, those little noses hold promise to a fortuitous future, and their little innocence makes our jobs well worth it. Stay safe y’all.

Courtney Henderson

The author is a sixth-generation farmer and fifth-generation dairy producer in southwest Virginia, where she and her family own and operate a 145-head Holstein dairy. Courtney is involved in agriculture organizations throughout her community and is a graduate of Virginia Tech.