Snowfall covers Hess Farms in Maryville, Mo., in early February, just prior to calving season. The Hesses are hoping for better conditions this spring than last year, which was bitterly cold, muddy and snowy when their first claves arrived in early March.
Belinda Hess said she's known as "Trail Boss" on the farm, where she and her husband, Matt, raise 80 head of cattle and grow 3,000 acres of row crops. Belinda has background in show cattle, which even helped her pay for college at Northwest Missouri State University.
The Hesses live on the farm established by Matt's grandfather, Homer Hess. Starting out, Matt farmed with his grandfather and uncle, J.E. Hess. Belinda joined her husband full time nine years ago.
There were 84 calves born on Hess Farms last year, and nearly all of them were given MFA's Shield Plus, and oral drench that helps give the newborns a boost of energy to get up and nurse their mothers. The Hesses call Shield Plus their "security blanket" to help them get through the stressful spring calving season.
Belinda and her youngest son, Triston, 9, bottle feed one of the farm's calves. He and his older brother, Grayson, 12, and sister, Jerrica, 14, are actively involved on the farm, which their parents say helps teach responsibility and introduces them to the realities of life - good and bad.