Farm Kids

What is it like to be a farmer’s daughter, or son? To wear the label of “farm kid”? Being one myself, I can tell you it changes throughout your life time.

Your first memories will be of cows and tractors. You will know the sweet smell of the milk the calf eagerly drinks, the softness of their hair as you push your face into their necks and the roughness of their tongues as they mistake your fingers for nipples. You will know the smell of diesel fuel and soil, often as it’s owned combined fragrance and be able to recall the vibration of the tractor seat you share with your dad while he lets you steer. There will be memories of tires on plastic as you “help” cover the silage pile. Meals brought to fields. The first time you see a calf be born. You will wonder why everyone doesn’t have a cow in their yard or a tractor in their driveway. The early years will be full of all that is special about being a farm kid.

And then you will realize the sacrifice that comes from your family’s chosen profession. You will notice your dad (or mom) doesn’t always make it to dinner, games or Christmas morning. You will notice the hushed conversations of adults talking about things like weather, milk prices, fuel prices and other bills and feel the worry. Because you are a teenager the sacrifice will be a burden and may breed resentment, even in the most resilient of farm kids. Who wants to toss hay on a warm summer day when their friends are at the lake? Who wants to try to hide the smell of cow manure with perfume or cologne because they had to work before they went to the basketball game with their friends? Why can’t their parents just leave the barn and not worry about a sick cow, whether the rain is coming, the payment that is due?

But then something magical will happen. You will be able to see all the farm gave you, all the experiences that are unique only to farm kids. You will hear the compliments on your work ethic in school, in sports, in 4H. You will see the farm through the eyes of visitors, friends, teachers and hear their astonishment at what your family does, see the excitement for the cows and tractors. You will find other farm kids and compare stories, realizing that you are not alone. You will be able to listen to the tough conversations and know the stories of how your family business survived the hard times. You will work beside grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, siblings. You will share the laughter and the tears. And even if you don’t make the farm your full time occupation, even if the farm is no longer there, your heart will still be that of a farm kid. It will swell with a love and pride that only a farm kid knows when you talk of your days doing chores, of your time spent with family, of the precious lessons learned that shaped you into the person you are today. And you will realize the greatest gift is getting to be a farm kid. #farmkids #dairystrong