It’s fun to walk the dog around my Des Moines neighborhood these days because there are signs of new life everywhere you look. Daffodils and tulips are blooming. Parents are taking their bundled-up newborn babies out for the first stroll of the season. And the older neighborhood kids are breaking in their new bikes, skateboards and softball mitts.

There’s also plenty of new life on Iowa farms this season. Soon, as the weather warms a bit, farmers will plant their corn, soybeans and other crops. (Watch out for the slow-moving red and green equipment when you are driving on rural roads.) But even more exciting are the spring-born animals on the farms.

baby calvesBaby lambs and goats usually come first. Then there’s the new calves. It’s always fun to see the wobbly-legged newborns following their mothers through the pasture.

Spring is also the season for baby chicks, which means it’s a very busy time for Hoover’s Hatchery in the north central Iowa town of Rudd. For more than 70 years Hoover’s has sold baby chicks to farmers and backyard chicken raisers all over Iowa, and actually all over the United States. The hatchery still delivers most of its chicks the old-fashioned way—direct to the customer through the mail. (Which is why you might be hearing a little peeping at your post office.) You can read more about Hoover’s here.

baby chickThrough the rest of the spring, and into summer and fall, farm families will be feeding and caring for this spring’s newborn animals. Often that privilege goes to the youngest members of the family. Parents know that caring for lambs, calves or chicks is great way to teach kids strong lessons in responsibility, discipline and compassion.

Those lessons have been repeated from generation to generation each spring on Iowa farms, and they are still going strong today.

By Dirck Steimel. Dirck is News Services manager and Spokesman editor for the Iowa Farm Bureau.