You have seen it before … a sunburnt, smile-plastered kid riding around with Daddy in the tractor. You may think it’s cute and probably that the dad got stuck with babysitting for the day, but in reality the little kid looks forward to the days he or she gets to work with Dad. When kids are raised around hard work and determination, it’s not a parenting style, it is a way of life.
I was lucky enough to be one of those kids growing up, whose eyes got huge and heart got excited when Dad would ask if I wanted to go out to the barns to help him with something. Back then, I thought it was all fun and games. Now with the vantage point of years past, I look back and realized the countless lessons I learned from being raised on the farm:
Patience is a necessity
“Good things come to those who wait” must have first been said by a farmer. In other professions there are deadlines, goal-setting, and board meetings. In farming only hard work, time, and patience can better your crop. There are times when a piece of equipment or a cow just won’t cooperate. We cannot force everything, sometimes it just takes time and love to figure out the problem. When I was a little kid I always had so much respect for my dad when something went wrong. He remained calm and handled the problem at hand. I try to follow his example by not stressing and by remaining calm.
Family comes first
All kids learn by example, and little farmers are no different. Rodney Atkins says it best in his song, “Watching You”: “I’ve been watching you, Dad. Ain’t that cool? I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you. … So I’ve been watching you.” The bond within a farm family is a strong one. They are more than just family — they are co-workers, mentors, and sometimes the source of our frustration. Working with family can be tough and aggravating at times, but in the end we learn more from them than we ever thought possible. For example, even when I busted an irrigation bag after a hard day’s work, Dad turned it into a lesson. Instead of getting mad that I had just ruined what we worked on all day, he told me tips to avoid making the same mistake and told me to keep trying and not to give up.
Work ethic is unmatched
I cannot reiterate this enough. The amount of hard work and determination I see in farmers and ranchers across the country always blows my mind. The effort they put in everyday is outstanding. Many farmers and ranchers start their day before sun comes up and don’t finish until the sun goes back down. A great example is during harvest season. Between running the combine, having trucks taking the loads off, and someone running the grain cart, everyone is working.
Respect will be second nature
When children are raised on a farm, they will learn to have respect for Mother Nature, family, and God. Mother Nature cannot be tamed or coaxed into a sunny day. If she wants to let it rain and flood a newly planted soybean field, she will. The only thing you can pray for is a break in the weather so you can fix what is broken and hope for a better season. The weather is one of the biggest factors for the end result for farmers and ranchers. Respect for others becomes a cornerstone into who we are. Moms teach their children to not only respect others, but to walk a mile in their boots, and not to judge those who grew up differently than you.
Unconditional love makes a difference
One thing about growing up around the farm, I learned the meaning of love. It takes a certain love to wake up every morning to go feed livestock in freezing weather. The same type of love that pulls you out of bed at 2 a.m. to go repair a fence when a cow broke through. This love grows even more every time a farmer makes a sacrifice to go out and work on behalf of his family. A farmer knows that every action has a consequence and product. Without choosing to do things that aren’t always easy or comfortable, farmers show a great gift of love and opportunity to provide for their family. Work, work, work, all day long.
A job is never done
Everyone has chores, but a farm kid’s chores may differ a little bit. For example, most kids have to clean their room. Farm kids have to clean their room and the horse stall and gather the eggs from the chicken coop each morning. Every farm kid knows not to ask Mom or Dad if you can go hang out until the chores are done for the day. Probably my least favorite rule growing up was that we had to have all tasks taken care of before we left. I also knew that I had to be home in plenty of time to get a good night’s sleep to start all over again in the morning.
Perseverance pays off
One of the best things living on a farm taught me was perseverance. At times, it can be frustrating when the equipment isn’t working correctly or when you have to miss out on social times to help on the farm, but it is usually worth it. Hard work goes a long way and we get to see the reward once our goals are achieved.
Although it’s not the lifestyle for everyone, I wouldn’t change my childhood for the world. Growing up on the farm instills qualities that cannot be learned in a different setting. Through hard work, determination, and patience, we grow up and continue on our life path. One day I look forward to raising a youngster who loves to get their hands dirty and open their heart to a one-of-a-kind profession.