Growing up on a farm is an experience unlike any other. Any person who has been lucky enough to grow up on a farm or work on one understands that agriculture is not easy business. It will knock you down quicker than you can imagine but will raise you back up onto your feet with the promise of a new season with all new possibilities.
As a farmer's daughter, I saw first hand how challenging life can be at times but, the importance of never giving up and doing something that you are passionate about. Because I witnessed the struggles of farming at an early age, it became pretty obvious to me that I was different from other kids. I may not have had the chance to go on vacation every summer, had any video games, or had the opportunity to hang out with friends whenever I was bored but I still had a lot of other things. I had an abundance of pets, tractors and four wheelers to ride whenever and wherever and family that was always close by. The things I had made me feel fortunate. I was fortunate to have unique experience and learn unique lessons that only a farm kid will understand. Here are some of the lessons I've learned from growing up on a farm.
1. You learn to be an early morning riser and morning person.
Two choices were offered to you each morning. One, you could get out of bed peacefully without hearing your parents tell you that it was time to wake up. Or, two, you waited silently hoping that they would forget to wake you up so you could sleep in a little bit. But, as the years went on, you realized that it was easier to simply wake up when the sun began shinning through the window because you had work to get done. And now, waking up early is simply a habit and mornings are a time of peace and quiet that you cherish.
2. You learn that free-time and weekends are nonexistent.
Farming is not a 9-5 job. It is a from dawn until after dusk kind of job that is done 365 days a year. However, when there is some free-time (which is mostly on Sundays) naps were the most common activity in my family.
3. You learn to love the outdoors.
There's nothing better than fresh air and the view of a corn field as it grows.
4. You learn that there are two kinds of people: International Harvester or John Deere and Ford or Chevy.
In the country, trucks and tractors are so much more than a means of transportation. These two machines are a means of expressing oneself and a way to create friendships or rivalry whichever the case may be. But, in all honesty, there is no competition because International Harvester tractors are simply the best.
5. You learn responsibility and teamwork.
Farming isn't a one person job; therefore, the more people helping to get a job done, the better it is. Plus, the weather will only cooperate for so long which makes it crucial to work together with other people and get the work done within a timely manner.
6. You learn how to help other people without expecting anything in return.
As previously mentioned, farming isn't a one person job so helping others when they are in need is key to not only their success but also your own. Also, you never know when you might be the one who needs help.
7. You learn where your food comes from and believe that the food that you produced will always be better than anything store bought.
On a farm, the cattle are raised by you and your family from the time the animal is born until it is fully matured. You know exactly how much grain it was fed verses grass, how frequently it went outside and if the animal had been treated with any antibiotic. Or, you plowed the ground and planted that field of sweet corn and watched it grow daily. Nothing tastes better than something you worked hard to produce and watched mature.
8. You learn how to care for animals and after awhile see them as a part of the family.
9. You learn that no matter how hard you work, something will always go wrong and it will usually be during harvest or planting season.
There are many times I watched my dad leave early in the morning to go milk cows then jump in the combine to get the crop off before the weather changed. It never failed though, no matter how hard he pushed to get the crop off before the rain or snow set in, the weather drastically changed or the combine would break down not only once, but twice, and maybe even three times. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly something can go from good to bad to worse in agriculture.
10. You learn to think that the strangest things smell good.
Two words: corn silage.
11. You learned to drive at an early age and can now drive anything.
Learning to drive a tractor was probably the first thing most farm kids learn how to drive and gradually move up the ranks from a small utility to a large articulating tractor and eventually cars and large trucks. In other words, whether the machine has two, three, four or six wheels you can and will drive it. Also, standard or automatic transmissions don't matter, you can drive either confidently.
12. You learn to appreciate agriculture and have the utmost respect for farmers.
Agriculture is not for the weak or for those who can't overcome hard-work and challenges. A farmer is someone who works 16 hours a day because they love the work that they do. Let's be honest, without the crops that farmer's produce, there would be no food to support the increasing population. For that reason alone, farmer's need the respect of all people. Not the treatment that they typically receive which is looked down upon.
There are many lessons that I learned growing up on my family's dairy farm which shaped me into person I am today. I will always be thankful for the way I was raised because in the midst of having fun, I was creating lasting memories and learning life lessons. I am proud to say that I am a farmer's daughter because as Luke Bryan once said, "You either lived on a farm or you wished you did." Well, I was one of the lucky ones to have experienced a childhood unlike any other. Even now as I sit in my dorm room many miles from home, I often find myself wondering what I could be doing at home right now and counting down the days until I am back on the farm again with a shovel in my hand.