Spring is the season for baby animals. And nothing says that more than a business that's all about birthing.
Caring for cows is all in a day's work at one Henderson County farm.
It might look like a typical pasture at first glance. But inside a barn near Stronghurst, Illinois, these babies tell a different story.
"Just like a maternity ward," said Steve Jack, who operates Jack's Custom Calving with his son Brice.
Farmers bring pregnant heifers here to give birth. The Jacks take care of the rest.
"I just truly enjoy being around cattle," said Brice, 25. "It's a passion."
During an average day during the season, the father-son duo will deliver six to eight baby cows.
"We have a really good relationship," said Brice. "We really get along."
"It's never a dull moment," added Steve, 48.
Those babies can arrive at any time during the day or night.
"When we're calving hot and heavy, we're both here all day, every day," Brice said.
Steve and Brice must be ready to respond 24-7.
"Every other night, we alternated staying here," Brice said. "We walk through every two hours."
Their custom "waiting room" next door is a pretty comfortable place to pass the time. It includes a big screen TV and lots of snacks and refreshments.
"You get a little bit of sleep every now and then," Steve added.
The maternity ward is where the circle of life begins for the cows. Cows that get a warm welcome to the world by the Jack family.
"It's pretty exciting," Brice said.
Newborns will stand up and start moving around within an hour or so. But these babies will hang close to their moms for some six months.
This is a family business that's all about bovines.
"It just gives you a thrill if everything is doing good," Steve said.
On a recent day, the cows are ready to romp. It's their first journey out of the barn. Each has its own personality. They're all pretty friendly, and that makes working with them even more rewarding.
"We enjoy the cattle," said Brice, a fourth-generation farmer. "So we don't mind helping others out with their cattle if they need the help."
It costs $60 to deliver each baby plus three bucks a day for food.
The birthing season runs from January through March. The Jacks will then plant corn and soybeans on their 1800 acres in coming weeks.
"If it gets bigger, that would be fine," Steve concluded.
It's the best for baby cows in this family business.