This article is dedicated to all the past, present and future farm kids out there. There may not be many of us remaining, but we all know how very special that time in our life was. No better way to grow up.
Yes, we worked hard and had some long days. Yes, we have stories to tell about our experiences, both good and bad. Most importantly, we are proud to be born and raised as a farm kid.
For me, it was a small "hobby-type" farm. My dad worked from 8-5 as a research and development director for cultured foods (yogurt and cottage cheese, etc.) at a dairy production plant. And my mom worked full-time as a legal secretary. Then they would come home to start chores. Taking care of pigs, feeder cattle and horses, along with a couple hundred acres of crops.
With this in mind, I have come up with truths that most farm kids can relate to. Don't be afraid to smile, laugh and take a trip down memory lane.
•With Christmas just around the corner...toys. We had the Barbie and Ken dolls but nothing compared to our farm toys. Blue Ford tractors, red Allis Chalmer wagons and green John Deere balers. Plastic hay bales, plastic holstein cows, horses and pigs. They were our favorites to play with all the time.
•No Christmas list was complete without those farm sets, more toy tractors, more pigs and horses...you needed them to make your farm "bigger!" I still have some of these toys.
•My brother and I had our chore clothes. Before going outside you needed to change.
•You learned some great things out on the farm. You learned that if you get stuck in the mud with your boots on, well, you better just stay put and wait for help. You learned that when mom or dad said that the fence was "hot" they weren't kidding. You learned how to climb through barb-wired fences without getting your clothes tore or scratched. My favorite, you learned how to hold the bottle while feeding a baby calf.
•We had rules to follow when playing outside. Don't go near the bull. If you open a gate-you better shut it!
•In forms of punishment, it wasn't the spanking that hurt, it was the fact that you were sent to the house and you couldn't be outside to play.
•What seemed like work to some kids was fun for me. I remember good times picking up rocks in the fields with a stoneboat. We called it a Rock Party.
•You haven't lived on a farm until you've been chased by a chicken, bucked off a horse, fell out of a tree or fallen off a tractor/truck/trailer. Funny thing is, it didn't slow us down one bit.
•You didn't eat dinner or what we called it in Wisconsin was "supper", until the chores were done. And you didn't complain.
•The best bonding time was when dad was out in the field and you got to sit on his lap as you went around and around the field planting corn or baling hay. You seriously felt like the luckiest kid alive.
•Best meals ever! Mom was the greatest cook. Everything was homemade. She was also the best nurse, making those bumps, scrapes and bruises go away. She could get manure and mud stains out of our "good" clothes that we were suppose to change out of before going outside. She would then go outside run a tractor, haul the pigs or beef cattle to market, tend to the sick animals, stay up all night long in the farrowing house delivering baby pigs and back a trailer just as good (sometimes better) than dad.
•Baling hay, planting corn or harvesting crops were like a mini-Christmas. You got to ride on the tractor and your meals were brought to you.
•Yes, we had swings and sand boxes but those were nothing compared to playing in the hay mow, in the oats bin or throwing rocks in a puddle. Now that was fun!
•Way before you could legally drive a car, we were driving! Tractors, farm trucks and motor scooters.
•Farm kids are able to see more live animal births than any kid in your class.
•We had manners and learned to respect our elders. You learned to listen and follow instructions.
•For schoolwork, a lot of our assignments or projects somehow incorporated farming into them. I know for me, my biology project was dissecting a pig and identifying parts.
•You had that one animal, dog, cat, horse that was your buddy, your go-to friend, your best friend that you would tell all to. That special animal is one you will never forget.
•You were proud to be a member of 4-H and/or FFA.
•The older you got, the more responsibilities and chores you were given. No, we were not slaves. We weren't overworked. Our parents were teaching us one of the most important lessons-responsibility.
One thing for sure is that I am proud to be considered one of these kids. Being raised on a farm is a gift and something I definitely treasure. I learned things that will be with me for the rest of my life. Thanks mom and dad!