I am discovering as I get older that I need to write things down. I need a list of groceries and notes on which store has the sales. I need to write a list of projects to get done, phone calls to make and cards to send out. It seems we are even developing lists to check off for the farm, reminders of steps that must be completed before we can move forward.  
It is a good start to the day when you can check off all of the boxes for a new arrival. We look forward to the arrival of every calf, but this one is very special. It is a legacy calf. Ever since her mother went over her heat date, we have been waiting through heartbreak for this anticipated joy as we start to check off the boxes.
As a 4-H dairy family, each of the kids claimed a cow family as their own. Jonathon had Baxter Flute, whose offspring funded his college education. Michael showed Crystal to three state fair championships, igniting a passion for developing amazing type and production cows. Katie babied all the Sugar Cookie calves as her own, which made them impossible to chase. Austin has developed a family line from his first show heifer, Fluff, which still stand in the barn today. It only seemed appropriate that our daughters-in-law would each adopt a cow as their very own.
Libby claimed Cola, who is also a Baxter daughter. Cola stood in the corner stall of the cross walk and would always try to lick Libby as she walked by in search of sweet treats. For Christmas one year, Libby made an ornament out of a selfie she took of herself and Cola in the barn, which we hang on the tree every year. Jonathan and Libby’s children giggle as they try to find the ornament of their mom on our tree.
Sara fell in love with Twix, who would become only the second Ralma cow to score 94 points. Crystal was the first. When Michael and Sara took their engagement photos at the farm, she had a picture taken of Twix in the dry lot. She printed an 8-by-10 laminated photo that hung above Twix’s stall when she came back in the barn. Twix had a heifer calf after her photo shoot, which Sara named Tic Tac. Every time they were back at the farm, Sara made a beeline to see her favorite cow and heifer.  
When it came time to breed Tic Tac, Michael and Sara decided to use a hot bull named Tropic. We scrambled to find a unit to breed her on time for a spring show calf. We finally found a unit of sexed semen next door in Stearns County. Now we crossed our fingers and started counting days. As we walked Tic Tac through the show ring at the Stearns County Fair and District Holstein Show, we knew she had gone over on her heat days. She was pregnant, and Sara already had a name picked out for the calf. Five days later, Sara died.
We have kept a close and special eye out for Tic Tac during her pregnancy. When the temperatures dropped in early March, we moved her into the maternity pen in the back of the barn as her time for calving closed in. As if on cue, just as Austin and Mark finished the evening milking and a couple of days past Michael’s birthday, Tic Tac delivered her calf.
Mark came into the house with a huge smile on his face that night. He was able to check off all the boxes on his list. A live calf, check. A heifer calf, check. Cleaned, check. Milk in all four quarters, check. Calf drank, check. Named Tic Tok, check. Another step forward, check.
    As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.