Newborn calves fill the Ag Barn

FFA welcomes new calf to their barn

Photos by Jackson Bednarczyk

FLOWER MOUND, 11:05 a.m.— senior Raylee Crawford receives a text from her dad during English class — “I think it’s time.”

Ten minutes into her Advanced Animal Science class, Crawford was on her way to the Agriculture Barn, 20 miles away from campus. When Crawford arrived, Jamily, the heifer she’s had for two years, anxiously walked around the barn. Crawford removed the harness off the silky white charolais cow, hoping she would lay down—and she did.

Crawford stood back and watched to see if anything bad would happen, but the birth ran through with no complications.

“At first I was like ‘oh my gosh that actually happened,’ then I was like ‘wait, is it okay?’” Crawford said.

Cameras in the Ag Barn allowed her friends in Future Farmers of America, FFA, to watch the birth along with her. As soon as Agriculture teacher Melissa Barnett found out, she rushed into Agriculture teacher Ellen Baker’s room exclaiming, “the cow’s having a baby!” It’s normal for FFA to have a couple of newborn calves every year, but they’re usually born before or after school.

“It brings a different atmosphere to the barn also because there’s cute little calves running around,” Baker said. Within the first 15 minutes, the calf was already trying to stand up, something normally not attempted until the first hour. Each time he stood up on wobbly legs he fell down, but he soon got the hang of walking.

It wasn’t until the next day that Crawford decided on a name for the new baby calf. Her friends texted her ideas— Gavin, Kevin, Dave, George—until she finally narrowed down the list and decided on the name Gavin Lane.

Gavin Lane is one of two calves recently born, with another on the way, from FFA students’ heifer projects.

“He is just like his mom—stubborn. He’s going to try and headbutt. He likes to buck around like a little bucking bull. He’s going to have somewhat of a personality like her,” Crawford said. “He’s just got this active personality. He wants to be an active animal.”

Crawford joined FFA as a sophomore, following in the footsteps of her mom. For her, FFA is almost like a job—she spends anywhere from seven to 21 hours a week taking care of her cow, most days staying at the barn until 6 p.m. She plans on becoming an Agriculture teacher.

“[Cows are] a lot of fun. They have a lot of personalities, so you might get one that’s kinda boring. But then you’ll get another one that’s crazy, and it’s like ‘what the heck, where’d that personality come from?’” Crawford said.

Jamily became pregnant while spending time at Crawford’s grandpa’s ranch in Wills Point.

“It was pretty exciting when we figured it out,” Crawford said.

Crawford says in the months leading up to the birth, Jamily was moodier than usual and ate a lot more. When Jamily stopped eating as much, Crawford’s dad thought that must be a sign. And it was—Jamily gave birth just three days later, earlier than her due date.

In May, Gavin Lane will move from the Ag Barn to Crawford’s grandfather’s farm. From there, Crawford will be able to watch Gavin Lane grow up.

“It’s really neat to see their 2-year project come full circle,” Barnett said. “To see them work with that calf is a really rewarding experience.”