Women in AG: I love being a ‘farm’ mom

The lists, blogs, and photos about how great it is to be or have been a kid raised on a farm are always a ton of fun to read. I openly admit that while my childhood was a lot of fun, filled with responsibility out in the country, I wasn’t one of those lucky kids. I missed out on a lot of the great opportunities most farm kids get. There are days I feel like I am trying to make up for it while farming with my Hubby and his family, but I’ve started to realize that I’m probably luckier than those farm kids! I am the mother of a little girl being raised on the farm!

This morning is a prime example of how excited I am by her being a part of what we do. We had two calves born that needed to be fed colostrum. In the midst of morning milking and getting Munchkin (age 7) ready for school, I had to wait for their mothers to be milked. So I came in and got our daughter going. When I told her about the new babies and my need to go back outside, she double-timed her morning routine. She was so excited to see the new babies and help feed them that being perfectly groomed and dressed was not important. She was able to help feed both calves, visit with a few others, and still hop on the bus with a big smile on her face. So with a big mama smile, I’d like to offer up my list of why it is great to be the mom of a farm kid!

Enthusiasm and Passion

This morning watching my daughter’s eyes light up when I told her about new calves just made my day. She gets it — she knows that we love our animals, that they need care, and that every new life is one we celebrate on this farm. She gets just as excited about a new crop being harvested, planted, or checked as we do and practically begs to go check hay or ride in the tractor during corn silage harvest. The cutest thing every early summer is when she grabs a handful of fresh haylage and smells it with that deep, appreciative breath.

Perhaps the biggest thing about her enthusiasm on our farm is her willingness to share what she does with anyone who will talk to her. We go to the local Fleet Farm to pick up farm supplies and she can’t wait to tell the cashier why we need dehorning paste, new buckets, or ear tags.

Yesterday she asked if I would help her put together some small items that she could take for show-and-tell about her summer working with Daisy her show calf. Seriously — she went round and round about what to bring and settled on pictures of her working with the calf, her show halter, and a couple brushes. How cool is that?

Watching that excitement for what we do develop and seeing her dive into what we do feet first is something that makes me feel good about her future. I know that by helping her develop a love for something like this she will without a doubt put forth that same effort and enthusiasm in other areas of her life.

Responsibility

We all want to raise children who are incredibly responsible and reliable. That is part of a parent’s job, right? Well I get to be the witness to seeing that develop in my daughter every single day. She watches what her parents do, day in and day out. She knows that we always work to do our best and that shortcuts are not always the right way to do things. We get the joy of being that example — we are teaching her that we accepted the responsibility to care for these animals, and that means that they count on us to provide for them.

She now has her own dog and claims ownership of several calves whose early care she played a big part in. She constantly checks up on those calves, follows their progress, and often reminds us when they are due for certain management practices that we do on the farm. She also stays on top of taking care of her dog — she feeds and cleans up after her, trains her with me, and makes plans for her future. She has realized that when you take on a responsibility you have to follow through with it.

Sure, because she is 7, we do have to remind her of some of her chores and work through some whining at times, but ultimately she gets her jobs done. As she gets older, it requires less pushing from Mom and Daddy. It’s always a great feeling when she asks for just a little bit more, and we know that she can handle it.

Pride

There is nothing that makes me smile more than watching my daughter take pride in what she does. It’s the little things that give her a feeling of a job well done. One evening she went to lock the cows into the free stall barn — a job she insists on doing. She came back to tell me that a cow had stuck her head somewhere it didn’t belong. She came in confidently, “Mom, we have a situation with a cow” was how she informed me with her hands on her hips. I couldn’t help but giggle as we walked to get 179 where she belonged. My little girl was so proud that she told me about it and helped free the stuck cow that she is still talking about it. On another occasion, she had gone to lock the cows out only to come back informing us that a heifer was calving and needed help. Honestly, we didn’t take her seriously, but she was right. She recalled seeing a heifer in a similar position and knew that it wasn’t good. We ended up providing a fair bit of assistance to the heifer. Thanks to our daughter, we have a great young cow and a healthy little heifer calf. When we go look at the calf who is several months old now, Miss Munchkin puffs up with pride and reminds me that she did a good thing.

Pride and confidence are really things she’ll need out in the world. No matter what she does as an adult, I have no doubt that she will take pride in what she does and be confident that she does good work. I hope that whether she continues farming or moves onto a different career path, people will recognize that she has the confidence to go far.

Compassion

One thing that seems to be lacking in our troubled world is compassion for those around us. Raising a kid on a dairy farm gives me faith that our little girl will have a good handle on what it is to care for someone or something outside of yourself. This morning as she helped me feed the two new calves, she was quiet and slow, gentle, and loving. One of the calves is slower moving and still gaining control of her legs — it didn’t even phase this kiddo. She immediately recognized that the calf would need more help and provided it. She spoke quietly and offered more assistance to the calf who was trying to stand. The other calf who is more aggressive and lively brought out a different method from her. While she was still quiet and loving, she knew that she could move more efficiently and spend time petting her.

As she walked through all the other calves, I overheard her talking to them, noting who was who and how they were doing. She cares, as she should, that they are all happy and healthy. As she gets older, we take that same compassion and understanding to the people around us. She is learning to apply it to her daily life, not just her baby calves.

At the end of the day, as we all know, farm kids grow up to be incredibly responsible, reliable, compassionate, and proud of what they do. What makes it even more special is being able to watch those key traits develop over time. So to all my fellow farm moms — smile big, pat yourself on the back, and enjoy every moment as you watch your kids grow up sharing in what we do!