Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we’re thankful for. For me, it’s my farm roots. But, while there are countless reasons I’m grateful for growing up on a farm, I’ve narrowed the list down to my top ten.
10. Dirt doesn’t scare me.
Growing up on a farm, I was no stranger to mud (or poop) on my face, in my mouth or on my clothes. I like to think all the bacteria I grew up with strengthened my immune system. But, in reality, I just lost my fear of germs. Growing up with farm roots means I’m not afraid to jump into a situation, even if it’s a bit messy. It turns out a little dirt never killed anyone – in fact, I know it made me stronger.
9. Hard work won’t kill me.
I grew up watching my parents care for our animals, and it’s through them that I learned the value of hard work. On the farm, problems happen. I learned to be a problem solver and critical thinker early on in life— something I never could’ve learned in a classroom. Many cold winter nights were spent in our barn, together, working hard to make sure our animals were cared for and comfortable. Most of the time, it didn’t feel like work at all. Caring for the animals I love with the people I love will never get old.
8. Disappointment isn’t a stranger.
When I was younger, success came very naturally to me. I found success in showing calves and dairy judging in the summers. I remember my mom telling me it wouldn’t always be that way (spoiler alert: she was right). For every success I had growing up, I also had disappointments. I learned to be a graceful winner and found a lesson in every defeat. Success taught me to be grateful for everything I had and fueled my ambition to continue working hard.
7. Longer hours means more memories.
On the farm, eating schedules are more unpredictable than Wisconsin’s weather pattern. Dinner didn’t happen until 9 or 10 pm some nights, but those were some of my favorites. Spending time outside with my family created more memories than a book could ever contain. While most kids were hanging out with their friends or playing video games, I was working hand-in-hand with my family and learning from my parents.
6. There’s nothing more beautiful than a sunset after chores.
Is there anything more fulfilling than finishing chores and standing in the driveway to watch the sun go down before dinner? The answer is no. I cherish every sunset. The fulfillment of a day of hard work and the incredible beauty of a sunset over our farm creates something more perfect than what others’ travel the world to find.
5. My first love was a pony.
My grandma gave me the first animal I ever owned when I was six years old. His name is Bingo, and he stole my heart the second he stepped out of the trailer. My sister also gained her first horse that day, Ben. I’m so thankful for the countless hours we spent on the farm with our ponies growing up. Chores never felt like work when I was taking care of Bingo, especially with my sister by my side. Since my pony already had my heart, I didn’t have time for a boy to break it.
4. True friends got it.
My summers were filled with county fairs, state fair, state shows and endless hours of preparation in between. If I was home, I could be found washing and leading my calves or riding my pony between chores. I didn’t have time to hang out at bonfires late into the night when my days started four hours earlier than my friends’. As a teenager, I remember feeling disappointed that I worked all summer while my friends had “fun,” but looking back I wouldn’t want to spend my summers any other way. And the friends who understood why I could rarely hang out? They’re still around.
3. It’s a business.
My mom told me “it’s a business” when we sold my first show calf. I was devastated. When my favorites leave it’s never easy, but I’ve learned that it’s not only a business but a way of life. Some decisions are matters of the heart while others are dollars and cents. I’m thankful that while farming is a business, it’s our business and we call the shots.
2. The people are second to none.
I got my first Brown Swiss show calf at 11 years old. I was brand new to registered dairy cattle and could’ve easily been blown off by other people I encountered. The truth is I was mentored, encouraged and shown kindness by everyone I met. This is my why. Why I am still in the agriculture industry. The people in this industry genuinely care about those around them. They’ve become a family to me over the years—something I am so thankful for.
1. Family is at the heart of everything I love.
Chores may go late at night. The work may never be complete. I may end the day covered in mud. One thing I can always count on? My family will be right there with me, sharing a laugh and making memories together. I can’t think of any other industry that is truly a family business. I am so lucky I grew up working side by side with my parents every day.
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