family

Raising Kids on the Farm

I recently saw a Facebook Post written by one of the popular Agvocates (I’m sorry, I can’t remember who it was that wrote it) talking about raising kids on the farm, chores, responsibilities, and allowances.

One of the questions asked was, “Should farm kids get paid to do chores?”. The comments section was exploding with opinions on this topic, answers were landing all over the board. Whether you think they should get paid monetarily or not doesn’t matter to me and each family is different. What I think we can all agree on however, is the lessons learned on the farm will take those kids further in life than some chore money ever will.

I make it no secret that I did not grow up on a farming operation. My father was a police officer, my mother was a paramedic and now a rural route mail carrier. Both were farm kids growing up, we lived on an acreage and I was raised in a manner similar to their own upbringing. We had rocks to pick and weeds to pull, buildings to maintain and construct, groves to clean up, trees to trim, the list goes on for miles and I was expected to pull my own weight. In addition to that some of my closest friends were farm kids were I was always willing to help out when visiting and I spent a considerable amount of time with my Grandparents in the summer on the farm. I learned a lot over the years about what it means to put in a hard days work, taking pride in a job well done, and always finishing a project that gets started.
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I am of the opinion that there is no better up bringing for a kid than on a farm. Children learn early on that everyone has responsibilities and a job to do before fun time begins, how to troubleshoot and fix a problem, working on a budget,how to help each other, and so much more. These traits are not only learned but become engrained in them, traits that shape who they are as a person. Life on the farm teaches so many life skills that it would be impossible to list them all.

These skills and traits stay with a person their whole lives, whether they stay on the farm or not. I spoke to an employer once about the perfect type of employee, he told me that when he is looking over resumes if he spots a candidate that was a member of 4-H or FFA or mentioned growing up on a farm, the resume goes towards the top of the stack. He said in his experiences employees that were raised on a farm have a better work ethic, better problem solving skills, more eager to do a job and do it well, and were almost always great team players.

I think we can all agree we want what is best for our kids and it is this sort of upbringing that can fix part of the troubles in society today. If you are raising a family on the farm I give you a pat on the back. It may not be easy, but in the long haul it will all be worth it in the end.

This Old Barn

There is something about America’s old barns that keep me captivated. I don’t know if it is the old architecture, the real dimension lumber, the history, or the smells but I can’t resist exploring these old landmarks dotting the landscape.

It is amazing to me to think that 100+ years ago family and friends came together to build these important buildings, some times before the farm home was even built. Hand sawn, hand nailed, and without the advantage of cranes, telehandlers, and other modern equipment.

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One of my favorite barns is the old “horse barn” at the farm where my mother was raised. Not only did countless animals take shelter in that big barn but it was an intergal part of the lives of 5 generations with the 6th generation just getting old enough to show interest. It has been in the family since it was first built so many years ago. A walk through that barn is like a step into the past, built by Irish immigrants with repairs and changes made throughout the course of time to suite the needs of the current generation of farmers. Today it stands tall, with new tin on the front and sides and mostly used for storage, and as a tribute to those who worked the ground before us.

Preseverving these old barns is as important to me as teaching our kids history in school. They all have their own unique story to tell. Some of those stories are of heartbreak and tragedy and some of pure joy. Not only do I urge you to go explore an old barn if given the chance but go talk to the oldest member of the family about it. You may learn more than you ever dreamt you would.

The Importance of Carpet Farming

If you grew up on a farm or around a farm or in a rural area you likely have fond memories of farming several thousand acres on the floors of your bedroom, kitchen, living room, hall ways, and even some custom work for a neighbor over in the bathroom. You likely had some of the newest equipment of your favorite color. There were probably times you had to beg your sister for some pasture space in her room for your newest heifers.

At times I see kids tearing across the floor combining corn or baling hay and I’d give nearly anything to be able to go back to those days when a trip with Mom or Dad to the local farm store or implement dealer meant a chance to hopefully bring home another piece of equipment for MY farm. My birthday, Christmas, and sometimes Easter usually meant I’d get at least one new addition for the farm.
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Carpet farming taught me as well as other kids some very important lessons over the years. A large part of that state of the art machinery I had was purchased with my own money and I learned early the importance of saving for what I wanted and budgeting expenses accordingly. I also learned what it felt like to beg the banker (Mom and Dad) to spot me the money that I PROMISED to pay back (I wonder how many of those promises I actually made good on). I still remember the first time I learned about sales tax. I was at the Clay County Fair and though my farm was primarily green, a toy booth had a New Holland tractor and implement, I think a ripper, and for some reason I thought I needed that for an upgrade. I happily went to the check out counter and bought my newest equipment, after walking back to where I was meeting my parents I realized the change I received wasn’t correct, or so I thought. I failed to realize we had to pay sales tax, boy that was a shock.
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I’m sure you all have similar memories and lessons learned from those days. We also shouldn’t forget how much fun a kid has when his/her parents, grandparents, or any adult really, gets down on the floor and plays along. Kiddos love that, especially if you let them be farm manager. You may be amazed at how much fun your having yourself, that is until you try to get up and those old knees are stiffened up.

To all my Carpet Farmers out there; Farm ON!

Harvest 2014

It is that time of year again, and personally my favorite time of the year. Harvest season! However, each harvest season comes with its unique set of challenges. I mean, I personally know some young brothers that farm together who have had more “luck” than I can count.. Last year alone they had a combine get stuck, they had a semi get backed into their pickup, their cows ventured out onto the highway, and they had multiple breakdowns all within a week!  You may have to battle wet or cold weather and some years even snow. You may have a very temperamental piece of equipment that makes you want to pull your hair out nearly everyday.

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Harvest, however, is the time that you get to see the benefits of all that hard work you put in throughout the the growing season. After meeting with various salesmen, agronomists, land owners, and bankers to prepare for the upcoming crop; then of course planting season, chemical application, and the seemingly never-ending equipment maintenance and repair, harvest is the time to reap what you sow. It is an exciting time as you get to see how each seed variety preformed, what fertilizer regimen gave you the best bang for your buck, what needs changed for next year, and what needs to be done again. While sitting in the combine or tractor for the 13th straight 16 hour day you may feel tired, ragged, and ready for a break but you know that it is all worth it. There is something about seeing the corn stalks being devoured by the mighty combine and the grain being augured into wagons or trucks that makes you remember why you put in all the blood, sweat, and sometimes even tears into your crop.

harvestHarvest tends to even bring family and friends together, (again not without some hardship). Whenever working with family there will always be a fair amount of disagreements, especially when you haven’t slept more than 4 hrs a night in 2 weeks, but everyone has a job to do during harvest. Farmwives bring meals and supplies to the field, and they also are not exempt from running equipment or hauling grain to town. From the time the kids can see over the steering wheel they are recruited to run a grain cart, pull wagons, or do fall tillage. Everyone does what is needed to get the job done. There can easily be 3 or 4 generations of farmers all working in the same field at any given time. I think of the times I spent with my grandfather and uncles during harvest. Grandpa, one of my uncles, and his son were hauling corn or beans to town while my other uncle ran the combine; three generations of farmers doing what they love together, sharing every moment and loving every minute of it.

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I hope you all have a successful and safe harvest this year. Remember that even in the most stressful of situations you always have family and friends by your side to help you out. Enjoy the harvest season as your hard work pays off.