The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ran an item on their blogs about how impressed the blogger, Laurie Fendrich, was with a young woman she met at a county fair. Never mind that it was an interesting read, as she made various comparisons between the animals and “factory farms.” She declares that the pigs were of only one breed, which was disappointing, but they were hormone- and antibiotic free. I wondered how she knew. She said the chickens were spectacular in their cages, “oblivious to their looming fate.” What looming fate? In our case, the chickens’ looming fate is to be released to free-range again. But it’s a city-person visiting the county fair, which is why I’m particularly careful to keep all the food bowls full during prime visiting hours, and clean the chicken cages just prior to Saturday’s rush at our county fair.
In any event, back to the topic. She meets a young woman at the Ulster County Fair in New York. This young woman named Katherine spends time talking to them about her farm experience, her responsibilities on the farm, and how she wants to go to Cornell to large animal veterinary medicine. The blogger quotes herself as thinking “I had a sudden thought. Colleges need to actively target and recruit farm kids. Their rigorous habits, their sense of discipline … would bring a rich and difference perspective on life than what most suburban and urban kids know.”
When I read this I thought this is so true. My own son, transplanted from New Jersey, has learned much from his step-father regarding hard work, and sticking with a task, and planning ahead. Last night, several cows belonging to my brother-in-law were out on the road, a neighbor came over to tell us. My husband was out of town, but called his brother, who wasn’t nearby, either. We went over and my son began expertly herding up the cattle. I was so impressed with how much he’s learned. Just as we were finishing up (and I’m using the “royal we” here, he did the work) one of the nephews drove up. He’d come out from the local town when his dad called, in order to put back in the miscreants. I thought that here’s an example of responsibility, the young man, who is a college student, didn’t say the heck with you and your cows, he just went out to fix the problem.
I’m not saying that farm life is a guarantee of a successful life. But it sure is a good start.