Many of my friends are getting married and having babies, and it seems that whenever we get together, we always talk about the many life lessons farm and ranch kids learn that their urban peers might not be exposed to. These conversations often make me reflect on the things I learned as a kid growing up on a cattle operation. I've listed my top five below. Add yours in the comments section below.
Amanda's top five lessons learned on the ranch:
1. A little dirt, manure, calf snot, hay flecks or corn dust never hurt anybody.
2. Chores mean more than helping to wash the dishes or make the bed. Chores for a farm kid mean feeding calves, opening gates, fixing fence, chopping thistles, moving and working cows, picking up square bales, and the list goes on and on and on.
3. The needs of the cattle come before yours. That means the calves eat supper before you do. The calves get warm bedding in a blizzard before you get to go inside to a warm house. The barn is kept as clean as the house. A sick calf means taking the extra time to treat them before heading to the movies. Weaning day means skipping sleepovers the night before.
4. Ranches teach kids the circle of life. That means new babies are born in the spring, bulls are sold to customers, fat steers are harvested for food, and sometimes there is unexpected death loss. As Trent Loos always says, “Everything lives; everything dies. Death with a purpose gives meaning to life.”
5. Finally, ranch kids are taught to be strong, independent, self-reliant and responsible. They aren’t afraid to get dirty and work hard to get the job done. Most importantly, they are taught the importance of family. Because 97% of farms and ranches are family-owned and operated, there are many producers who work alongside multiple generations of family members. As my dad always says, “A family that works cows together, stays together.”
What are some of your favorite memories from the farm? What lessons did you learn growing up in agriculture? What experiences do you want to make sure your kids have? Add your lessons and experiences in the comments section below. Thanks in advance for sharing your stories!