Jackson Gerdes and one of his bucket calves.
Jackson Gerdes and one of his bucket calves.


By Rita Brhel

Growing up on a farm, Jackson Gerdes is no stranger to hard work.

He’s often seen helping his dad and grandpa in the field or the cow lot, and the Fairfield 10-year-old carries a lot of pride in that.

“I like farming,” Gerdes said, “because you can learn about crops and cattle, help out with Dad and Mom, ride on tractors and in combines. It’s lots of fun.”

For the past three years, he has taken on the responsibility of raising the farm’s bucket calves. 

“I want to be a farmer when I grow up,” Gerdes said. “I want to farm with my dad and have beef cattle.”

This year’s charges are a chocolate brown heifer named Brownie and a white, Charolais-cross heifer named Snowball born at the end of March.

Every morning through the end of the school year earlier this week, Gerdes woke up a little earlier than usual to make up bottles of calf milk replacer to feed his calves in time to ready for another day in the classroom and board the bus.

And he did it again every day after school.

“Sometimes its hard work with cows,” Gerdes said. “It’s important to take care of them.”

Often his brothers, 7-year-old Barrett and 3-year-old Easton, will help out feeding the calves. But Gerdes is who’s held accountable for the calves’ well-being, and that’s OK with him.

“It’s a good experience,” Gerdes said. “I get to learn about things. I get to see how life on the farm happens.”