What it’s Really Like to be a Farm Kid

I’ve talked before about growing up on a farm. It wasn’t the glamorous “up every day at the crack of dawn” or “I have to feed my livestock every single day regardless of bad weather or holidays” lifestyle some farm kids experience.
I grew up on a corn and soybean farm, so my family was able to go on to occasional summer vacation and I got to sometimes sleep in on school holidays.

Previous blog posts about being a farm kid have talked about the highlights of the rural life (See 10 best things about being a farm kid), but what’s it really like to grow up on a farm?

  • You have chores. Even if you lived on a farm, you still had to take out the trash, mow the lawn, and feed your pets. The only differences were that our pet cats and rabbits lived out in the barn and we had to pick up sticks and thousands of walnuts before we could even think about mowing the lawn.
  • You live in what seems like the middle of nowhere. Your friends got to see each other all of the time because they lived within walking distance of each other. You were likely a few miles away from your nearest neighbor at best and had to wait until your parents could haul you into town for a couple of hours to see your friends.
  • No cable TV. You had what was called the “Farmer 5”, which were those basic channels that didn’t have anything on during the daytime. I spent a lot of time playing outside with my sisters as a kid, and we had a giant collection of movies for rainy days inside.
  • No phone reception. Remember that glorious day in middle school when you got your first cell phone? I got my first phone in high school, but never had decent reception until I moved into town to go to college. I can guarantee that farm families will almost always have a land line phone in the house.
  • Your first vehicle was a truck. Not so bad, especially since you were probably driving before you were old enough for your permit. The worst was when you had to drive to school in the old beat-up farm truck.
  • Family dinners. I can’t speak for all farm families, but we always ate as a family at the dinner table. Planting and harvest seasons were a different story, though. If you were old enough to drive, you could guarantee that you could expect a phone call from your dad asking you to bring him lunch or supper. Or those phone calls asking you to help him move equipment between fields.
  • Unlimited combine rides. Need I say more? My sister and I are 20 and 22, and we still jumped at the chance to ride in the combine for an afternoon.

    Combine rides are the best!
    That’s us in the combine. It was a lot easier to fit the two of us in the rider’s seat when we were toddlers.

Sure, I hated some parts of growing up on a farm (see: Chores),

This photo says it all.
This photo says it all.

but it was the overall experience that shaped me into the person I am today. Farm kids have a great understanding of agriculture and first-hand knowledge of where your food comes from. You also understand what it takes to raise an animal or raise this year’s crop, knowing that the weather can take an entire season away in an instant. Most importantly, farm kids grow up understanding what a hard day’s work really is, which generally translates to a great work ethic later in life. I’ve moved away from the farm to start my own career, but I’m still a farm kid at heart and wouldn’t trade it for anything.


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