Raising Country Kids in a Modern Society

I come from the mindset of “you either lived on a farm or wished you did” – growing up I was on the “wished I did” side. I was raised in a new suburban neighborhood surrounded by farms and ranches, and in my heart I knew I was supposed to be farm kid, no doubt about it. I was supposed to be in 4-H clubs showing my prized calf or perfectly shaped pumpkin, and oh how I envied the FFA members and their blue corduroy jackets, but alas I was stuck in suburbia. Instead of big oak trees to swing from, I had a perfectly mowed yard with plain pitiful excuses for trees that wouldn’t see a tire swing for at least 15 years. I knew back then that when I grew up I was gonna be a rural kid – or at least my kids would be. And that’s exactly what happened.

We have managed to raise three totally countrified daughters in a day and age of the Internet, video games and electronics of all sorts. For 18 years our days have consisted of feeding the stock, mucking stalls, gathering eggs, growing gardens, working on 4-H projects, hauling horses to shows, driving old pick up trucks and playing in the dirt. When most kids spend their summers at the movies, the mall or vacationing, country kids are making big plans for the local Elk’s Club Carnival that is setting up at the park on the edge of town – but only if the ranch chores are done. Money earned at a homemade lemonade stand goes towards the cost of ride tickets, corn dogs and cotton candy. And that’s the way its always been in the country.

One summer our girls had some cousins from the city come for a visit. The city cousins were hesitant about the visit and had been heard telling Grandma, “Them are rural kids!” They were afraid they would be bored with no satellite TV (gasp!) or video games. At first, upon the city cousins arrival, it was a little quiet and awkward. I thought, “this is gonna be a long weekend,” and I could tell my girls were thinking the same thing with their eyes big as saucers looking at me. “Why don’t you show them the horses?” I say, because as you know not everyone owns a horse! Who needs satellite? From then on I barely saw the kids all weekend. Horses, chickens, rabbits, ducks, oh my! Forts to build, dry creekbeds to explore, bugs to catch and redneck rollercoaster rides (our version of 4-wheelin’ in big ol trucks) – who could resist the rural life? Not to mention topping off each night with a trip down to the General Store (and yes it literally is still called a general store) for ice cream and candy.When it came time for the city cousins to leave, they were a little sad, but to this day they still talk about how much fun they had. I know they will look back on that summer and remember how cool it was to be a “rural kid” for a short while.

My girls are all teenagers now but still spend the majority of their time on the ranch working with the horses, wrenching on pickups, and sitting around the firepit at night with the family gazing at the stars. Going “into town” is still a pretty big deal even though the town seems to be getting a little closer to us. But no matter, “us” rural kids will still be found roaming the town in our muddy boots and jeans shopping for chicken scratch, halters, lead ropes and the newest line of Cruel Girl clothes. Ain’t country life grand?

  • Published on Jun 26, 2009
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