Thursday, April 24, 2008

Family Farming

We have a lot of work to do on the farm. Building, planning, fencing, mowing, and so much more is what will be consuming our time as we press forward. But, in the midst of all of this work I have been thinking a lot about the importance of keeping our children excited and involved. Right now our 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter enjoy their time at the farm, but sometimes we have to do a little convincing to get them excited (especially our son) about going out there. Mostly I think that is because a bare piece of land that will become our farm and home is difficult to wrap a young child's mind around. But, once we are out there they enjoy running around, hitting balls, and jumping in the puddles!

When I did my Q&A Interview with Kelli of Sugar Creek Farm I was inspired by her thoughts in this post about the families role in farming. That is something that we envision for our family. With that in mind we have tried to do a couple of things to keep our children involved in the farming and building process.

One of the simplest things that we have done is talk about farming at the dinner table. Talk about the cows, farming decisions, or general plans. This has lead to some interest by our children in talking about farming. Often when we will ask our son what he would like to talk about at the dinner table we hear, "Dexters!" It is fun to hear a 4-year-olds thoughts on cows, calves, bulls, and steers...

Another thing that we do is take lots of pictures of the kids at the farm and play farm at home as often as they want. By taking pictures at the farm we can look at them whenever we want at home, it kind of brings the farm home with us so there isn't this large separation. And the farm play, well that is just plain fun for me also! Caleb has inherited a lot of my farm toys and is beginning to collect some of his own, so we try to spend some time playing farm whenever he wants (playing as a family).

When it comes to laying out the farm and the house we have also involved the kids. When we were working on our house layout we gave the kids their own copy of the house and let them put in their rooms and the furniture. Even though we did this a couple of months ago they still get our their pictures from time to time and talk about their design (the couch is here, my bed is here, here is the kitchen ... that kind of thing). Also, this past weekend we took the family out to stake out the house and then we measured out so we could find where the kid's bedroom is going to be ... then we explored the ant hills "in" the kid's room!

One last thing that I decided to do is get the kids a toy tractor replica of our new tractor. It just gives them a little connection to the tractor and to the farming. Keeping the family involved in the farm is going to be one of our main goals as we move forward.


Rich said...

Your post today (along with many of your other posts) got me to thinking about what has caused me to pursue farming as a vocation.

Most of my early exposure to farming on both my maternal and paternal grandparents' farms was just tagging along with Grandpa checking cattle, or something like going fishing in farm ponds with my parents, etc. As I got older I helped sporadically with minor jobs but I never really had an definite interest in farming. I was much more interested in things like deer hunting and bass fishing. But as my interest in subjects like deer hunting grew, I started to get much more interested in things like growing food plots, improving native browse, etc.

In a domino effect, an interest in deer hunting led to growing food plots led to improving native pastures led to raising cattle led to growing wheat.

If I hadn't been allowed to wander all over my grandparents' farms, having the freedom to pursue my varied interests, I doubt if I would have any interest in farming today.

Just because children don't show an early interest in farming doesn't mean they won't eventually be interested. Of course, now I wish I had been "forced" to help with more of the farm work so I would know more about how things used to be done by my grandparents and great grandparents.

Ethan Book said...

Rich - I kind of have the same feelings as you. I grew up around the farm (splitting time between my mom and dad), but wish I would have experienced and learned so much more! Oh well, I guess I'll learn it now ... very slowly ...

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