LE MARS, IOWA - Nearly two years ago, Le Mars, Iowa farmer Fred Schiefen faced his biggest fear. His hip started giving him problems and it turned out, he needed a hip replacement.
Unable to do any sort of heavy lifting, he turned to his then 14-year-old son, Travis. Although he's very young, this teen agreed to be the man in charge on the farm.
"Before he had his hip replacement, I was like his second man. Just always with him. Once in a while I would do stuff like tag a calf my first time, milk it and if it had problems," said Travis Schiefen.
Now, they have reversed roles. Travis is nearly 16-year- old and running the show while Fred watches over him; a hefty job for only a sophomore in high school.
"Sometimes I get up early to help him before I go to school, but I mostly like to sleep in so it's kind of hard. But when I get home from school, the second I do is grab a meal, quick snack then get on outside then feed the cows and stuff like that."
When Fred found out he'd have to be on the sidelines, he knew he'd have to rely on his family.
"I said you know, it's your responsibility and do you want to carry on the family tradition? And he jumped right in, took knowledge," said Fred Schiefen referring to Travis.
"One day we had a cow that had a calf got under the fence and I had to bring it when I was outside looking at stuff and I noticed the calf got out and I just got on the side of him and easily got him right back in," explained Travis.
"He knows more about cattle at 15 than I did probably when I was 30 just because he picks up on it real fast," said Fred.
Travis has four cows of his own and he even created his own brand for his cows.
Sketch after sketch, Travis spent a few days on his own drawing out him and his dad's branding. Each letter means something different according to their family history.
This family turned what could have been a tough transition into an easy one.
"I love the outdoors and I love to work with my hands so it's a great deal to do and I just love farm work and enjoy it a lot and it's really fun," said Travis.
"He was my right hand man and couldn't have done it without him," said Fred.
Travis hopes to study agriculture in college. Meanwhile, his brother is a junior at Iowa State. Fred would like to have his two boys take over the farm one day.
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