13 Most Important Life Lessons I Learned by Growing Up On A Farm
This post is for anyone contemplating moving to the country or a farm and wondering how it will shape their kid’s lives
I grew up on a large farm, and at the time in my life, took it for granted. I took for granted all the things I was learning and never realized, but little did I know the things I learned, were preparing me and would be useful for the rest of my life. This post is written with a lot of meaningful, great memories of my childhood, that I happen to think about a lot. As I look at my kids, I wish they could learn what I did, but since we live in that thing called a “subdivision” they are limited, but I still try my best. If anyone is contemplating a move to the country or to a farm, and wondering how it will shape your children’s lives, this post is for you. If you just want some insight on what all there is to do on a farm, this post is also for you. Below, are 13 most important life lessons I learned by growing up on a farm.
*I wished I’d been able to locate some pictures of me when I was little, but I wasn’t able to. They are somewhere, however! These are actual pictures on the farm.
13 Most Important Life lessons I learned by growing up on a farm
The very most important thing I learned by growing up on a farm is humbleness-It was a simple life, sometimes challenging, 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 have a lot of pride in what they do and how hard they work.
The second most important thing I learned was how raising animals taught me about nature, responsibility, & compassion for them- 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 and keep them safe). I watched my Dad pull countless calves from the mother, in order to keep them both alive(talk about nature up close in your face). I’m pretty sure my first time seeing this my eyes were giant and my mouth probably fell open. Spring was always so wonderful because it was when the lambs were born. Seeing them spring up in the air was always hilarious. In the spring we sheared them and sold the wool. There would also be calves that we would have to bottle feed because for whatever reason the mother wouldn’t accept them and allow them to nurse. I’ll always remember the calf that was born in the freezing winter and watching Dad use a hair dryer to warm it up and prepare a bottle for it(I thought I was an animal whisperer and would talk to it) or Taffy the calf that we raised from a bottle. I had the bright idea to name it Taffy because it was hard to pull on a lead……. -I thought it was witty, myself. We also raised ducks, a few pigs, dogs and cats as well. You realize how nurturing and protective a new mother (animal) is over her babies, just as we are.
The third most important thing was money, how to earn it and save it– By raising animals, that was my first introduction of being an entrepreneur. I’m pretty sure I was hooked, after that. We used to raise Basset Hound puppies and learned how Income-expenses=profit. Responsibility was learned through general care:feeding, watering, giving them needed shots at home, and selling the puppies. At the time, selling them this way was feasible, and it worked, but mom would go in a store and shop while I sat outside in front of the store with a chair and my puppies/rabbits/ducks in a cage and sell them for the amount I came up with on my own, to the public. Afterwards, I would take my earnings to the bank and deposit them in my savings account.
This was the start of sparking the passion for being a saleswoman and learning how to challenge my comfort zone and be outgoing. I always sold the animals, every time-because who can resist a little girl in pigtails or adorable baby animals! Now, before you gasp in terror at this, this was a safer time when there just wasn’t as much violence and horrible things happen like there is today, and this was in a small town, a VERY, VERY small town! It wasn’t like I was in downtown Chicago or NYC!
The fourth was independence-We had quite a large farm and I would go exploring, almost everyday, on my own. Most always 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(I never did btw), or find my Dad and ride with him in the tractor or combine. The endless rows of hay bales to jump and run on in the summer. I had the freedom to roam “the land” so to speak, I just needed to be home by dark to eat! This is how I also learned to be comfortable being by myself. This is something so important. If you cant learn to be content by yourself, how could you really ever learn about yourself and be independent. You have to be independent to live, pretty much. Its good to do things by yourself, thats how you grow and learn.
This is probably how I was able to move to Southern California by myself, in my 20’s and loved every bit of it! I had no qualms or fears about it. It was something I deep down wanted to experience and it was incredible. I think being an Aquarian makes me adventurous by nature, but I think it had a lot to do with learning independence as a child.
The fifth was contentment-This ties into humbleness a bit. 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 within a mile. It was quiet besides the sounds of nature and machinery working in a field. I was able to create whatever I wanted, out of my imagination, which was pretty cool. My basketball goal was on the side of a shed, and it was where I would spend most of my time, both day and night. I wouldn’t care if it had just rained, I still played basketball, by myself. My hands would be black because I’d worn out any grass that had been there. I played basketball in school and ran track, which being on the farm gave me plenty of places to sprint, triple jump or just run.
One of the things I still love to do when I visit the farm is ride in the combine with my Dad. Growing up, I always would sit on his lunch box and fall asleep, and sometimes curiosity would get the best of me and I would start flipping switches. (I’m pretty sure this only happened once, after the switch I flipped began dumping corn out onto the field and not in the grain truck) YIKES!!!! Sorry Dad…….. Riding with him was and still is a place of peace, focus and perseverance. You persevere through the many rows of corn, beans or wheat, through endless days and late nights.
The 6th was being frugal-My mom cut our own 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, and in case you’re wondering, my hair has finally healed and is quite healthy, years later after all of them). 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. At the time, we only had well water, so I would ride with Dad into town to fill up the water tank so we could have water. We definitely learned not to waste it! We had a well out back that I would pump water into a bucket for some of the animals.
The 7th was you reap what you sew-My Dad grows corn, beans & wheat and raises cattle. I used to ask countless questions about the farming business and how it worked. Thankfully Dad was always patient enough to answer them all. I loved riding in the grain truck and hauling the grain to the elevators where they would weigh it and whatever price the market was paying that day is what that load was worth. Again, countless questions on this. You dont realize all the behind the scenes hard work that it takes to grow what we eat on a daily basis. There’s a lot of respect needed for farmers, and a lot of hours and sweat that goes into being one. You learn early on, that mother nature can be your best friend or worst friend. Talk about anguish that a farmer goes through, when it rains so much, only to look out onto his flooded field that he just finished planting! I always think of Paul Harvey and the “So God made a farmer” speech. It brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.
The 8th was imagination-To running races(aka by myself) on the dirt roads, or creating my own obstacle bike course in the yard, having a bunny hop race, or the oh so many mud pies I made, the slip n slide water park, the turtle races and baby duck swimming pool. Oh my, there’s nothing cuter than a baby animal!
The 9th was not being afraid to get dirty-whether that was making mud pies, scooping up manure, or learning to bait a fish hook, a little natures minerals never hurt anyone. I remember there being so much rain once the ponds flooded, so I put on my brothers (too big) hand me down, rain boots and waded through the water and threw fish in a bucket. Talk about fishing!
The 10th was learning simple sewing techniques– Again being a tomboy, I didn’t realize that one day when my husband would asked me to fix a button on his shirt or fix a hem on this or a hole on that would I then appreciate actually knowing how to do that, and take pride in the fact that I didn’t have to pay someone else to do it for me. Thanks mom!
The 11th was learning to cook-or rather refused to cook(at the time) because I was too busy being a tomboy. What I did learn at the time was licking off the beaters every time mom made something(which was quite often). You’ll never meet anyone else with a bigger passion for cooking & baking more than my mom, which makes her cooking the absolute best you’ll ever eat, as well(Paula and Martha have nothing on her) When I reluctantly was forced to watch or help cook, I somehow retained the tips she taught me, and now I love to cook & bake. Its a great feeling, eating 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. Now its pretty easy to access any recipe you want, just look online and millions will come up, and you can write a comment of what you tweaked.
The 12th was to take care of what you had- If you take care of it, it’ll take care of you. I still remember looking up at Dad and him 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. You tend to take care of the things better, that you worked hard to get!
The 13th was learning about death- 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, the harsh winters would be too cold for your cat, your favorite rabbit become ill and pass away, or just witness your elderly dog die. Excited to learn that a cow had twins, only to lose one, if not both of them. There were a lot of pet funerals and a lot of tears, but, came with that was love for them. We made countless burial boxes throughout the years, so we had quite a pet cemetery. Its not something fun to experience, but it is something that taught me a lot about the cycle of life. “Its better to have loved and lost than not loved at all”
It just goes to show, you may not realize when you’re in the moment of something in life of what you can take away from it and are actually learning, when you least expect it. This is in many facets of life. So if you are wondering how moving to the country or a farm would impact the lives of your children, I hope you read this to them. It shaped my life, it prepared me for adulthood, and it helped me see the world in the most appreciating way possible. I have tons of great memories of my childhood. Next time you see a farmer, shake his hand and let him know how much you appreciate what he does for our country. You dont realize all of the hard work that went into something thats on your plate at night. Kids dont need fancy toys or the latest gadget, they just need to learn contentment and to explore their imagination, for their imagination is what designs the future.