I grew up in a rural farming community. From my parents’ kitchen window, I could see the farmhouse my father was born and raised in. Living in the country was nice, but I never dreamed I’d actually live on a farm when I grew up. It’s not that I thought I was too good for farm life; I simply had dreams of a career in the city. That all changed when I met a farmer’s son.
Fifteen years of marriage and five children together on our farm have taught me a lot. Here’s my list of 10 things you learn on a farm:
1. Working 9 to 5 is a nice idea.
Dolly Parton’s catchy “9 to 5” may be one of my favorite tunes, but it’s certainly not how the farmer’s workday goes. A farmer’s day often resembles something more like this: Early to rise and keep going until everything’s done. Even the dark of night sometimes doesn’t stop the work — thank you, Thomas Edison and contributing inventors.
2. Sleeping in… That’s A Good One!
It seems most if not all farm folks are naturally early risers; it must be genetically ingrained in their DNA. Someone who’s in bed at 7:00 a.m. or *gasp* eight o’clock in the morning, will likely be asked, “You gonna sleep all day?” And the person asking is serious.
3. Put your barn clothes on!
Moms (and possibly a few Dads) set strict rules about good clothes and chore clothes. Bless their hearts; they certainly do try. Inevitably, most apparel eventually makes it to the barn and into the everyday clothes drawer.
4. Strong brand loyalty.
I had no idea saying “I do” to a farmer meant marrying a brand. Farm folks are serious about what equipment they use. And much like their genetic disposition to get up early, this brand loyalty is often passed on; whichever color tractor your dad prefers, will likely be your favorite.
5. Clear your calendars.
Seasonal work comes before all other activities. The end. And for good measure, Amen.
6. Come and get it! The question is: When and where?
Meals times and locations are variable. During plant and harvest season, it’s common to eat family meals outside — in a field. The important thing is you’re together making memories.
7. Hold your horses, Holidays!
Farm kids learn the virtue of patience early. No Christmas presents are opened, Easter eggs hunted, or Halloween candy tricked-or-treated until all of the chores are done.
8. Never, ever say these words: “I’m bored.”
Work really is never done on a farm so boredom is a rarity. But even if you are feeling the b-word, you don’t dare say so. That is, unless you’re interested in more chores.
9. Shh… the weather’s on!
When the weather comes on, you’d better hush. A farmer’s schedule, income, and at times sanity are dependent on the uncontrollable – and might I add adorable – Mother Nature.
10. More about animals than you ever thought possible.
With experience you learn to recognize signs of sickness, how to roundup animals, and the difference between cows and heifers, steers and bulls. Also, this head-scratcher: horns don’t always mean the critter has testicles.
Living and working on a farm is a special lifestyle. It’s not easy; it’s a labor of love.
Thank you for reading!
Did I leave off the favorite thing you learned on a farm? Please share your lesson with me in the comments!