I grew up on a large farm, and though I didn’t realize it then, the useful things I learned were preparing me for the rest of my life. Here are 12 lessons learned on the farm that I hope to pass on to my own kids.
It was a simple, sometimes challenging, life but it taught me so much about working hard, appreciating what you have, and loving your family. I would do anything for my family and I have a lot of pride in what they do and how hard they work.
Responsibility and compassion for animals
I get to describe to my children what a mother rabbit does to get ready for her babies (by pulling her own fur out to make a warm bed for them). I watched my dad pull countless calves from the mother, in order to keep them both alive. I’ll always remember the calf that was born in the dead of winter and watching my dad use a hair dryer to warm him. Spring was wonderful because lambs were born and we would shear them and sell the wool. You realize how nurturing and protective a new mother animal is over her babies, just as we human mothers are.
How to earn and save money
Raising animals was my first introduction to being an entrepreneur. We raised Basset Hound puppies and learned how income minus expenses equals profit. We learned responsibility through providing general care like feeding, watering, medicating, and selling the puppies. Then, we would take our earnings to the bank and deposit them in a savings account. This was the start a lifelong passion for sales and learning how to challenge my comfort zone and be outgoing.
We had quite a large farm and I would go exploring, almost every day, on my own. Often I would take a couple of Basset Hounds with me (which were terrible exercise buddies because they would trip on their ears constantly). I would walk through the creeks in the summer time, explore old abandoned houses on our land in hopes of finding a treasure worth something, or find my dad and ride with him in the tractor or combine. I had the freedom to roam the land as long as I was home by dark to eat. This is how I also learned to be comfortable being by myself.
There were no places to shop where I grew up, even the local gas station went out of business. There were no street signs or even neighbors nearby. It was quiet besides the sounds of nature and machinery working in a field, and I was able to create whatever I wanted, out of my imagination. I played basketball in school and ran track, so being on the farm gave me plenty of places to sprint, triple jump, or just run.
How to be frugal
My mom cut our hair, and now I cut my children’s hair, saving us quite a bit each year. (Mom also gave us Ogilvy perms, but THANKFULLY thats a thing of the past!) I learned that money didn’t grow on trees, so I took care of what I had and was proud of it. Rarely did we ever contract out for fixing anything or completing a job. Dad somehow always knew how to fix the washer, car, air conditioner, whatever it was.
You reap what you sow
My dad grows corn, beans, and wheat and raises cattle. Many people don’t realize all the behind-the-scenes hard work it takes to grow what we eat on a daily basis. There are a lot of hours and sweat that go into being a farmer. You learn early on, that Mother Nature can be your best friend or worst enemy. I always helped with the garden, and I had chores when I became a certain age. If I wanted something, I had to earn the money to pay for it. I will never forget wanting bright colored spokes and a walky talky thing for my bike, so I came up with a system of getting paid for my chores until I earned enough to buy those things.
Don’t be afraid to get dirty
Whether it was making mud pies, scooping up manure, or learning to bait a fish hook, a little “nature’s minerals” never hurt anyone. I remember there being so much rain once the ponds flooded that I put on my brother’s hand-me-down rain boots and waded through the water and threw fish in a bucket. Talk about fishing!
Simple sewing techniques
Being a tomboy, I didn’t realize that one day my husband would asked me to fix a button on his shirt or fix a hem on this or a hole in that. I appreciate knowing how to do those things, and take pride in the fact that I didn’t have to pay someone else to do it for me. Thanks, Mom!
How to cook
When I reluctantly was forced to watch or help my mom cook, I somehow retained the tips she gave me, and now I love to cook and bake. It’s a great feeling to eat something you have created. Mom taught me all of the measurements, techniques and if something needed tweaking in a recipe to write it down in the cookbook.
Take care of what you have
If you take care of it, it’ll take care of you. I still remember my dad telling me this after wrecking my bike for the hundredth time. He taught me how to put the chain back on my bike, oil it and air up the tires and tighten the bolts, and keep it clean from dirt. My parents were great at teaching us to take care of our things, and we tended to take care of the things better that we worked hard to get.
This last one really filled my heart, not with happiness but it forced me to truly feel and experience loss and mourning. There was a lot of heartbreak on the farm. When coyotes had killed a sweet baby lamb, or the harsh winters were too cold for your cat, or your favorite rabbit become sick and died. There were a lot of pet funerals and a lot of tears, but with that was a lot of love for them. It’s not something fun to experience, but it is something that taught me a lot about the cycle of life.
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