The children are upset when their father sells a newborn calf to another farmer who intends to slaughter it for beef.



(created by) (as Earl Hamner),

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Episode credited cast:
Olivia Walton (as Miss Michael Learned)
Erin Walton (as Mary Elizabeth McDonough)
Jim-Bob Walton (as David Harper)
The Narrator (voice) (as Earl Hamner)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
George Anderson


The children are upset when their father sells a newborn calf to another farmer who intends to slaughter it for beef.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

calf | theft | missing child | pet | cougar | See All (9) »


Drama | Family | Romance




Release Date:

28 September 1972 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The speech heard on the Radio is Franklin Roosevelt's second Inaugural address, made on January 20, 1937. (This is almost four years out of sync with the time line of the series, established by incidental information on recent episodes as the spring of 1933). See more »


As Olivia serves flapjack at the dinner table, it is simultaneously dark night time outside the side window, and bright daylight outside the front door windows. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: [narration as John 'John Boy' Walton, Jr. reading from his journal] Waltons Mountain was an everlasting presence in our lives. Whenever I could, when I was growing up there during the Depression years, I would climb its slopes. Up there I could get lost in dreams, dreams of becoming a writer, of becoming a man. I knew no writers, so I had no writer to model myself after; but as a boy aspiring to manhood, I had only to follow the footsteps of a remarkable father.
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User Reviews

A Lesson On Earning A Keep!!
24 March 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The opening part of "The Calf" started with John-Boy Walton's narration about responsibility and transition into manhood. He stated that prosperity was rare in the days during the depression. His family would have a calf at home. The birth of a baby bull brought joy and happiness for a little while. The reality: The Walton Family would be facing a crisis of their own. They would have to scrape money in order to pay their monthly bills at home. This adversity was just a prelude of what would eventually happen at home.

John Walton was driving to Rockfish. He endured some trouble; he hit a pothole and busted an axle off his truck. He would have to pay for a new axle on his truck. In the meantime, all the kids -- especially Jim-Bob and Elizabeth -- were enjoying the sight of the calf around the barn. John Walton had some bad new to tell the children: he was selling the calf to Mr. Anderson for nine dollars ... for which the money was needed to pay for the new axle. That dose of reality hit the children quite hard ... particularly Jim-Bob and Elizabeth. John-Boy told the children not to make this matter any harder than it needed to be for them in the family. At first light, John Walton took the calf to Mr. Anderson's farm and sold it for nine dollars ... for which he obtained the money from Mr. Anderson reluctantly.

John-Boy made an attempt to obtain the calf back from Mr. Anderson at the same price. The problem: Mr. Anderson wanted twelve dollars in order to return the calf back to the Waltons. John-Boy was three dollars short of completing the transaction. Olivia and Esther were the two people that came up with the idea of collecting Chance back from Mr. Anderson. Zeb Walton was upset over the deal.

Meanwhile, Chance was bawling quite loudly in the barn. Erin could not sleep because of that noise. Worse, Elizabeth was crying loudly since the calf was no longer at the Walton home. Olivia and John reassured Elizabeth and Jim-Bob about visiting the calf at the Anderson Farm the next day. The two of them took a cow bell and placed the item around the neck. Mr. Anderson told them the calf would be slaughtered for beef; therefore, Jim-Bob and Elizabeth would not see the calf again at their home.

Upon the end of the show, Jim-Bob and Elizabeth went directly to a cave. The Walton Family would eventually know that they never came home after the visit at the Anderson Farm. John-Boy, John, and Zeb found the children safe and sound. Jim-Bob and Elizabeth knew they were about to be spanked for their dishonesty. Olivia and John had a discussion about the calf; and they knew that talking about the situation would be the best way of wanting something special. John Walton had Sheriff Bridges acted as a witness to a proposition. The children would work at the Anderson Farm for twenty cents per day ... until the difference was made up in full in reference to the calf. A Noble Episode From The 1972-1973 Television Season!! A Solid 10!!

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