Life lessons from the farm

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The saddest day I have spent on my parents’ farm was April 16 — the day the last of the milking cattle left the farm after 101 years. Knowing it would be a long day getting the cattle to the sales barn, I took the day off from work to help.

I might not have done much with the cattle within the past year, but it was comforting to hear them and even chase that one calf who never wanted to stay in the hut. As I sat in the auction ring and watched the cattle sell, I watched the only life I knew disappear.

However, I did not let this change the way I feel about the dairy community as a whole. If anything, it showed me how lucky I was to grow up immersed in farming. People who do not grow up on a farm do not truly understand all the hard work that is put in every day.

The life lessons that come with farming are endless, and I have seen many of them take root in my siblings and I. I never thought much about how the farm changed the course of our lives. I knew it had, just not all the different ways.

I started to think about it when I heard a teacher at my high school tell my parents that they wished Mom and Dad would have had more kids because it was a joy to work with us. I knew this was also true about my cousin’s family who is dairy farming.

My cousin and I were the only kids in our grade who were active on a dairy farm, and it showed not just by the work ethic we had, but also the amount of effort we put into subjects we were passionate about — like farmers and their cattle.

Another way we realized the shrinking number of dairy farms in the district was by the time of events. When my brother, who is six years older than me, was in school, the start time of activities that only included our school was later than it was when I reached the same age.

My dad made it to my brother’s band concerts but never mine, because he had to finish chores so my mom could attend. It didn’t affect many other parents by that point.

Being able to raise or say you raised a family on a farm is something to take pride in. Not only are you raising kids in a way that will allow them to prosper in life later on, you are supporting and supplying the basic necessities of life.

I thoroughly enjoy talking to my neighbors who are milking cows. Seeing that there are smaller farms or family farms who are not willing to give up, even when the markets are bad, is something that encourages me to do more. That is one reason I love to tell stories about family farms who are carrying on, though they are not doing anything special that would catch someone else’s eye. But, they are doing the work that means the world to them.

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