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Farm kids are just a little different

 Farm kids are just a little different

By Patricia Grotenhuis, Lifelong farmer and agricultural advocate

Even though a farm kid looks the same as their non-farming classmates and friends, inside is a completely different story.
I have a nephew who lives in town.  He’s just a few months older than my son. My nephew does spend a fair amount of time on the farm, but not enough to completely erase the differences.  When the boys were younger, my nephew had started talking while my son had just a few words in his vocabulary.  If you asked them what a cow said, my nephew would dutifully say “mooo”.  My son had his own way of answering that question.  He would tip his head back, push his lips out, and make a “mmmmmm” sound.  It was very cute to watch him try to mimic the cows.

Some people found this strange.  They would even try and correct him, and have him say moo instead.  Even now that he is talking, he still won’t say a cow “moos” or a pig “oinks”.  Making realistic sounds is much better in his mind.  It has led to us getting some funny looks, though!  I guess us farmers just see and hear things a little bit differently.

Being one of the only farm kids in my class at high school was similar.  Everyone else at the school would be getting ready for a dance, going to a pep rally, or looking forward to weekends and holidays of doing whatever they wanted.  My siblings and I would do chores.  Classmates tried to convince us they had chores too, but we knew our chores were different.  Helping take care of a house is a much smaller job than caring for a barn full of animals, or making sure the field work is finished while the weather is right.

When we said we had to miss something because of chores, we were often greeted with “that’s just an excuse…chores only take 15 minutes”.  No matter how often we tried to convince people that our chores took much longer than 15 minutes and were both important and time sensitive, they didn’t understand.

Our priorities were with our family’s animals and crops, not going to a movie or hanging out with friends.  Of course there were days we craved the freedom our friends had. We knew though that it would never give us the same satisfaction as delivering a calf, having the goats jump up to greet us, or seeing the “bottle baby” lambs come running as soon as we got near their pen.

I am already bracing myself for the explanations I will have to give to my sons, as they grow up, about why they cannot be at every after-hours school event, play every sport they want to, or why they have to help in the barn every day.  I know the questions will start coming once they start school, and will probably never stop.  I still get asked why my husband and I cannot take a weekend off, why I am taking a break from playing hockey, or why I claim we’re busy year round.  I know non-farmers may never completely understand, and I am okay with that.

For me, seeing an animal eating the feed I just gave them or helping care for a newborn calf will always give me more satisfaction than going to a spa or seeing a movie in the theatre.  All farmers do feel like they need a break from time to time…we’re human too.  But we also know that, whether people realize it or not, a lot depends on us working every day to provide Canadians with a safe, reliable food supply.  Even though we are not always recognized for our work, we know how important it is.

I hope I will always be that farm girl who is just a little different.  I never want to forget what living on a farm has taught me about the hard work that goes into every bite we eat.

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Posted by FFC on December 13th, 2011 :: Filed under Animal care,Consumers,Dairy cattle,Family vs factory farming,Farm life
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