The wait was finally over. Our cow was in labor. My husband was quite tense as it was the first calf to be born on our franch. And, it was early in the evening, so the children were going to witness their first birth. It had to go well. We were hurrying about the barn trying to follow the orders of my husband as we gathered all the birthing supplies. “And get the pitchfork, son!” my husband orders, and then abruptly turns and starts to head out to the back pasture. “A pitchfork?” queries my son. “Why a pitchfork?” I yell after my husband. I mean, thinking back, I don’t remember seeing one on the labor and delivery floor when I gave birth. He gives both of us a sharp look. Trained to run codes in the emergency department, he strictly instructs, “We may need to help our cow give birth. You need to just listen for my voice, and do what I say, and do it right away.” My son quietly mumbles, “I have no idea what is going to happen, but I have a feeling there is going to be a lot of yelling.” I laugh heartily and then so does my husband. It lightens the mood. All of us lose our tempers on the franch from time to time. On our land, there are a lot of opportunities for repentance and forgiveness. Anyway, after the laughter subsides, my husband still doesn’t offer an explanation for the request. So, the pitchfork is carried along with the rest as I shrug my shoulders. I guess it just seems like a farmer thing to have. I think of the famous painting by Grant Wood, The American Gothic. It is one of the most parodied images ever. If it was re-painted to tell the story on our franch that day, it’d be of my son holding a pitchfork looking quizzically at me, and me at him, with a laboring cow in the background. Come to find out, veterinary guides indeed mention how a pitchfork can be used as a lever, along with rope, if you need to pull a calf that isn’t coming on its own. My husband knew that. But, you learned it here. So next time you see a cow in labor, you’ll know to grab the nearest pitchfork and you won’t get yelled at for asking why.