September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

A miraculous teaching experience

Visitors to the AgStar Miracle of Birth Center watch as a cow licks off her calf after she gave birth on July 28. (photo by Krista M. Sheehan)
Visitors to the AgStar Miracle of Birth Center watch as a cow licks off her calf after she gave birth on July 28. (photo by Krista M. Sheehan)

By Krista [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Speeches had been made, the ribbon had been cut and people were milling around. The AgStar Miracle of Birth Center had a successful grand opening on July 26. I had been nervously and excitedly waiting for that day and that week of the Olmsted County Fair to come for awhile. The planning committee had worked hard to put this together. It had finally arrived.
Volunteers were on hand and easy to spot in their blue AgStar Miracle of Birth Center shirts. Live TV spots were taking place inside the Birth Center. People were asking questions and were amazed with the animals.
Within the first hour after officially opening, the AgStar Miracle of Birth Center was a hotspot on the fairgrounds and everything was going smoothly. We even had a cow that would be calving soon, although she didn't look to be trying that hard as she stood in her pen. The visitors at the Birth Center gradually made their way into the Dr. Paul Zollman Dairy Birthing Center as Dr. Daniels expertly checked the cow. Then he made the announcement. The calf was upside down. Not exactly the type of first official birth we were hoping for.
But we couldn't help the way Mother Nature wanted to present this calf. We needed to help this calf out. As Dr. Daniels worked to flip the calf one-armed, he spoke on a hands-free microphone around his ear to explain the situation to the growing number of people that had gathered around the circular pen.
When the crowd started to realize the seriousness of the situation for the cow and calf, they became more curious and more quiet. Some people were even "shushing" others. Once Dr. Daniels had the calf in the right position, he and another vet along with some dairy producers worked quickly, yet carefully to deliver the calf. When the heifer was presented, the crowd clapped and cheered but watched again as Doc and his crew helped to quickly clear the calf's nose and throat to help her breath. The rhythm of her chest wasn't as normal as it should have been. But Dr. Daniels spent the next five hours continually checking on and caring for the calf as she progressed.
Although this wasn't the smooth delivery we were hoping for after the ribbon cutting, it was the perfect opportunity for a teaching moment. Farming isn't always easy or perfect. It's a lot of hard work. Adversity can happen, especially when Mother Nature is involved, and farming is not the same set of circumstances day after day. But through this experience people were able to see and learn about the true genuine nature of vets and farmers like the ones helping out the cow and calf that day - their dedication and love of caring for animals.
Beyond that difficult delivery, we had many other teaching moments during the rest of the week at the Birth Center. One guy asked if the piglets were soft. When he petted one that a volunteer held, he was amazed to find out that they weren't squishy or fluffy like a marshmallow. Another person was astonished to find out that the chicken he watched hatch could one day produce eggs that he ate for breakfast. Many people learned that cows can't produce milk without having a calf first.
The list goes on about what questions people had and what they were learning. They were engaging and eager to find out more information about what happens on a farm and where their food comes from. To me, that made the AgStar Miracle of Birth Center a success. I could see the gap between consumers and the ag industries getting smaller (if only slightly). Every little bit helps.
By the way, we named the heifer calf Miracle Maddie.[[In-content Ad]]


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