Here’s 10 things that you’ve definitely experienced if you’re a farm kid:
10. The Stars. You won’t appreciate how big the sky is or how many stars there are until you move to a city full of streetlights. The quiet of the night and the pressing dark are something you’ll only feel outside city limits. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a feeling of actually being alone; being able to clear your mind and look at the great-big, dark expanse above you, full of twinkling lights, is something that you don’t forget.
9. The Weather. On the farm, weather plays a big part in how crops are looking, and it seems like farmers are always wishing for that next soaking rain. Almost like an inborn sense of knowing what’s coming, you find that your senses are heightened at the slightest change in the air. You can feel that summer thunderstorm coming in, and it’s impressive to see the dark clouds rolling towards you along the horizon.
There’s also a fair share of tornado warnings, so it’s not unusual to be sent down to the basement at some point over the summer. The wind is something else, too. It ALWAYS seems to be windy, and wind speeds can definitely pick up with that first cool breeze before the storm hits. Since I’ve been on my own, I’ve found myself compulsively checking the radar when I can sense rain coming. When I know we’re under some sort of summer weather warning, I have to go outside to look at the sky and have be able to see “what the weather’s doing” (also known as watching the storm come across the fields). I guess that’s the farm kid in me.
8. The Scenery. During the spring and summer, you expect your world to be green. The air is fresh from the oxygen given off of the crops and you are surrounded by nature. Few cars pass by the house (if the house is anywhere close to the road), and your neighbors’ houses are hidden behind cornfields for half the year.
7. Knowing Every Neighbor….In A 10 Mile Radius. “Neighbor” is every family in your rural community. The kids all go to school together and you all attend the same church. These are the people that you’ll associate your childhood with. The older neighbor kids are your babysitters and your first “real” job will probably be babysitting the younger ones- just as soon as you’re allowed to stay home by yourself. Your closest neighbor is also at least a mile away.
6. Riding in the Combine. I haven’t met a farm kid that hasn’t gone for a combine ride every fall for their entire existence. You were probably driving it, with your dad on sitting on the armrest, by age 12 anyway. The real question here is “Red or Green?”
5. Kittens Growing up on a farm, you spend half of your free time thinking up names for the new kittens in the barn and know that you can’t use the same name twice. You can also identify the cat sitting outside the barn or lurking just outside of the fence watching the dog from across the yard. By age 8, you’re an expert at catching and taming every kitten born each spring and fall in your barn.
4. The County Fair. Joining 4-H and FFA are a farm kid’s rite of passage. 4-H projects are where you’ll find your true passions and learn all of the skills you don’t in school. (Check out my 4-H post here). Everyone does it, and I remember counting down the days until I was finally old enough to join 4-H. The county fair is the culmination of summer- all of those projects that you spent the entire summer working on are finally judged and the best week of summer begins. An entire week of hanging out with other farm kids and spending every waking minute with these friends.
3. Work Ethic. Farm kids tend to be stereotyped as the hard workers, which is a totally fair assumption. We all grew up with regular chores and were expected to help out on the farm. I can’t say that I particularly loved picking up sticks, mowing the lawn, feeding the cats, weeding the garden, or picking berries, but I can say that I have more of a work ethic than others in my generation. It’s easier to do something once you’re used to it, so getting tasks and other chores done in a timely manner is a normal thing to do. Bonus points if it’s done right the first time.
2. Helping Your Neighbors. Helping someone in need of assistance isn’t even questioned, you just do it. Pulled over on the side of the road? Chances are that we recognized your car a half mile back anyway. Lose a family member just before the busy harvest season? A dozen combines are headed over just as soon as the services are over. Tornado tear apart your community? Just tell us when to go. It’s neighbors helping neighbors. We all need a little help at some point, and it’s the sense of community that compels us to help out.
1. Being the Next Generation.
Being a farm kid doesn’t imply that you love agriculture. But you do know your stuff and have an appreciation for the industry. The best part about being a farm kid is being a part of something bigger than yourself, YOU are the next generation to care for your family’s farm. You are learning to be stewards of your land and learning to be more efficient on the farm. You’re going to be there when grandpa finally admits it’s time to retire. You are part of the 2% that live and work on a farm in the United States. Being a farm kid isn’t a common thing anymore, and you give thanks every day that you were given this opportunity to grow up on the farm.
Living in town may be convenient, but I really miss my roots. I miss having my space and being able to see a sea of green for miles. I miss the sky and, most of all, I miss the stars. There is no doubt that I’ll be back on a rural route, just as soon as I graduate and launch my career in agriculture. Agriculture is a part of who I am, and I couldn’t imagine my life otherwise.