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Lessons learned from a life on the farmPosted Wednesday, January 5, 2011, at 9:35 AM
As my children enter adulthood -- and I say goodbye to their childhood -- I find myself realizing some of the things they've learned because they were fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on your perspective) enough to grow up on a farm.
Some of the life lessons include:
--God is real. Everytime spring comes, a seed grows or a newborn calf instinctively knows where to find its' first meal, there is no doubt. Or stated another way: There is a higher power -- even higher than Dad.
--Money doesn't grow on trees and sometimes it doesn't grow in the field either. But if it does grow in the field (or a tree) you won't make any of it, unless you are willing to do the work necessary to cultivate, harvest and sell. (Not to mention you need find a willing buyer.)
--The first priority is to take care of the animals, because if you do, they will take care of you. Or stated another way: It doesn't matter if it you're tired, sick, it's a holiday, a Sunday, your birthday or a blizzard. The animals still have to be fed. The sooner the better.
--How babies are made and born (in graphic details) -- but it's best not to share that information with everybody at school, especially your kindergarten class.
--Nature can be cruel. Things are born and things die every day. Or put another way: There is a circle of life. In order for something to live, something else must die, but life marches on.
--Life is not instant. The wait of watching a plant or animal grow to maturity is worth it. Or put another way: Delayed gratification is a good thing.
--A good neighbor is more important than money or "things."
--Money saved is money earned.
--Hard work feels good, especially at night when you lay down in your bed.
--There are no guarantees in life. We aren't entitled to anything. Or put another way: Sometimes you can do everything right, but an animal can still die, a crop can still be a failure or the prices still won't rise.
--It's a nice feeling to help something else get its start in life.
--You and you alone are responsible for your happiness, your safety and your success.
--You may make some of your own rules, but you also make your own mistakes and face the consequences of both.
--Wasps tend to make their nests in August. Be careful when opening hollow gates.
--Hard work can bring success and with success comes more hard work.
--More often than not, using your mind in a sticky situation is better than using your brawn.
--If you cover soybeans or corn with dirt to hide the fact you've spilled a bag of seed or overfilled a grain truck, they will come up as plants and give away your secret. Or simply put: It's best always to just tell the truth, before your secret gets out.
--There is a difference between a pet, such as a boy's dog, and a cow or a pig. Or put another way: Real farm animals don't act like Disney characters.
--Being a real "cowboy" isn't all the fun it's cracked up to be.
--Never complain about being bored, someone can always find you a job on the farm, no matter your age.
--Sometimes life gives us more questions than answers.
--Weather is never the same. Nor is it predictable, even for the weatherman.
--Wet dirt turns to mud. Mud is fun, at least when you're not an adult. Or put another way: Even if you enjoy getting a tractor stuck in the mud, your father doesn't, so don't act so excited when it happens.
--There are rewards for hard work, but they aren't always monetary.
--A man is as good as his word.
--Farming is much harder to do in real life than it may look to the the casual observer.
--What goes around usually always comes around or put another way: The rich get their ice in the summer, but the poor get theirs in the winter.
--The more hands make lighter work.
But one of the most important things my children learned by living on the farm is simple and I hope will serve them well down the road:
--Since there are no "neighborhood kids" to play with, having a brother isn't all that bad! Or put another way: Working with family can be fun!
Well, at least I hope they learned that last one.
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