It’s that time of year again. It’s springtime, and life is being reborn, literally, out at the Dordt College Agricultural Stewardship Center.
Every spring the Agriculture 101 class, made up mostly of ag freshmen, gets an “animal experience” project. Pregnant ewes and calves are delivered out to the school farm, then divided among groups of students. The students are responsible for the animals’ daily care for nearly two months, lasting until almost the end of the spring semester.
The purpose of this project is to give students experience in multiple, hands-on, facets of animal agriculture. Students who have sheep experience must work with calves, and those who have worked with cattle have responsibility for the sheep.
No matter what project the students end up with, a good time seems to be had by all. At nearly all hours of the day, students can be found at the farm feeding, cleaning, or just playing with their animals.
Even non-ag majors seem to anticipate this time of year. Students from every grade and major tag along with their friends, hoping to get a chance to hold and maybe even take pictures with the baby animals.
Not everything is so rosy at the farm, however. Part of the lesson to be learned through this experience is to deal with the realities of an agricultural lifestyle, which can be disappointing at times.
Not every lamb is born alive, and not all make it through their first week. It can be heartbreaking, but comfort can be taken in the promise of new life contained in every lamb that does make it and lives to jump, run, and play with his brothers and sisters.
The lambs and calves do seem to have something in common with their freshmen caretakers, however. They seem to be constantly reminded that never before has Iowa seen such a beautiful spring.