Being a Farm Kid is Tough
The truth is, I didn’t grow up on a farm. I, like most other people, can only imagine what being a farm kid is really like. So here I am, an adult co-owner of a farm, living the farm kid life through my own kids. I have to say it is everything I could have imagined and then some. Being a farm kid is tough, but what I couldn’t have imagined was how rewarding and wonderful it is.
Just like I imagined, my kids have chores. They have chores outside, they have chores in the barn, and they have chores in the house. They have to keep the yard clean by keeping their bikes and toys put away because no place is off limits to tractors, skid steers, or any other vehicle. They help with chores by milking, feeding calves, cleaning pens, moving cows, you name it. They have to help keep the house clean because the less cleaning mommy has to do, the more time she has to spend with them. Holidays, birthdays, and especially family outings are all dictated by our milking schedule and easily interrupted by cows getting out, a sales person showing up, or any other factor of Murphy’s law, because let’s face it, the cows come first. Honestly, how many birthday parties have you gone to at someone’s house where you have been instructed not to block one side of an entire driveway with any vehicle so the milkman can come? I’m going to guess none, unless you hang out with a bunch of dairy farmers.
However, unlike I would have imagined, my kids are completely oblivious to any of this being anything but normal. In fact, they love it! Every aspect! Having to put their bikes away means they get to ride them one more time, and while on the tractor with daddy or mommy, they know it is safe, and they understand why it is so important. While doing chores they are learning important life lessons. They laugh wholeheartedly with joy as they work with calves or a favorite cow, and also cry giant tears alongside us when that calf or cow they have helped us care for over the last few days just doesn’t make it. They call manure mud, and in reality it is possibly a mixture of the two – manure and mud – and they absolutely love being covered in it as much as I love the washing machine in the barn where I can take the first layer off their clothes and spare my washer and “good clothes” in the house. The chores the kids do in the house give them a huge sense of pride. They want to learn more, they want to help each other out. They are thankful when we do things for them because they know the hard work that went into getting it done.
Last, but definitely not least, is the relationships our children have with all those sales men, delivery drivers, and all other industry professionals that are in constant contact with our children. From the bottom of my heart and theirs, we are so thankful for each and every member of our extended family that comes along with being a dairy farmer. You see, when they pull in the driveway, even if we have something important going on, or an appointment to get to, they are welcome. They are an extension of our family. My kids don’t know what it’s like to not have a milkman, feed guy, nutritionist, or even United Dairy Industry of Michigan showing up at our house. Every single person who comes here has left a piece of themselves with our children and has helped them grow. Our kids look forward to visitors. When I see vehicles pull in the driveway and hear my kids start yelling with excitement the names of the people who are in those vehicles and running for the door, my heart is full. These farm kids are very socialized, and they know they have many adults looking after them, teaching them, and being their friends.
While being a farm kid is tough, for my kids it’s a way of life they wouldn’t trade for the world. Today, like most days, it is paying off. Our oldest son loves to get his hands on the Farm Trader before daddy, and today, because of his diligent page-turning, he, his brother, dad, uncles, boy cousins and Papa are at a toy tractor show in the thumb that he wanted to go to the second he found it and tore out the page. My youngest girl got to spend the day with Grammy while the boys are gone, and as I write, I can hear my oldest smacking piece after piece of Double Bubble in her mouth so she can try every flavor in the bucket that Donald, the feed guy, just dropped off before it’s time for us to go do afternoon chores.
Farm kid: the toughest job my kids will never know they had.