I’ve referenced the joy of raising kids on a farm before, in my mind there is really nothing better and I’d love to share with you why it is I feel that way!
You have probably heard that old familiar saying “were you born in a barn?!”....it’s often in the context of someone being messy, dirty, leaving doors or windows open, etc. To me there are definitely worse things! Young or old, I think you can learn some of the most important lessons in life “in the barn”.
1. You learn about life and death in the barn. The kids have been able to experience the beginning of life from the birth of many animals right here on our farm, to end of life through miscarriages, premature deliveries, pneumonia, heart attacks in chickens, natural born predators, old age, etc. They also know, understand and appreciate that we raise animals to feed people and in order for that to happen we have to ship them and they end up at the butcher.
2. You learn that hard work builds strength and character, and kills no one. All the children have at one time or another complained about the chores or tasks they have been given. Never are they asked to do something that they can’t accomplish, and once they put their minds to it they are darn proud of themselves for completing it. While they may complain, they are definitely learning that hard work pays off. They take pride in their work, and the strength they realize that have.
3. You learn respect, love and compassion. When taking part in chores around the farm each of the kids have developed respect for what their father and grandfather have done and do each and every day. They learn quickly to respect the animals, to show love and compassion to each of them. I have seen all of them go to great lengths to rescue a lost kitten, help Steve pull a backwards calf, bottle feed calves and lambs, bed down pens to keep them warm, and various other tasks.
4. You learn to fail, and keep on keeping on until you succeed. Each of the kids have learned through doing. I think some of the best life lessons can’t be taught but have to be learned through experience. When tasked with a chore that didn’t go as expected, the kids have had to try again, and sometimes again after that to succeed. They have also had to leave a failure, learn from it and try again the next day. We learn by failing, the important thing is that we actually LEARN the lesson from the failure.
5. You gain confidence in yourself and your abilities. As each of the kids have been tasked with different responsibilities it is amazing to see the smiles and the confidence that they come away with after each chore. I have heard each of them say they “can’t”, and Steve tell them they “can”. Whether its learning to drive a piece of equipment, lifting a small bale of straw, cleaning out a pen, gathering eggs, problem solving or trouble shooting when things don’t go as expected, the confidence they exude afterwards is priceless.
6. You learn to love the outdoors. Spending time in the barn, on the farm, or in a tractor makes you appreciate the great outdoors, and the different seasons we get to experience. The kids have all spent a lot of time outside, and know pretty much every square inch of this farm. Between helping with chores, and exploring they have and continue to utilize the space and their imaginations.
7. You get to spend time with older relatives and family members. This one is priceless. The kids have memories and experiences that they will value forever that can only come from time spent with the older and wise people in their lives. Family Farms have the advantage of working intergenerationally. Our children have the blessing of seeing and spending time with their grandparents often on a daily basis. Not only do they have their grandparents pouring into their lives, but neighbors who are just like grandparents that have invested time and love into them. They get to learn valuable life lessons from those that have lived this life before them.
8. You learn to appreciate the value of a dollar. The little ones haven’t come to this realization yet, however the older ones can definitely appreciate it. They can understand the sweat and work that goes into each dollar earned.
9. You learn patience. The kids continue to learn that you don’t always get what you want when you want it. Often times you wait for dinner until chores are done, or you learn that we can do certain things in certain seasons when it comes to events and activities. When learning to operate equipment patience is a must, as becoming rambunctious can be costly. Waiting for animals to birth their babies can also teach patience, as they come when they are ready, and you better be prepared for anything.
10. You learn where food comes from. You see first hand where your food comes from, what it takes to raise it or grow it, and appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that goes into getting it to the table.
The list could go on and on, so many great things can come from being raised on a farm. As with anything there are pros and cons, but for us, for our family the pros far outweigh the cons. I love seeing the kids learning not only about the farm, but about themselves and what they are capable of. They surprise us everyday with their abilities and strengths!
I have said it before and will say it again, I wouldn’t trade this way of life for anything!