As fourth-generation farmers, my husband and I are navigating the world while raising crops at the same time as a toddler. In the short time we’ve been doing both, I’ve come to realize that raising crops and kids has a few things in common.
1. Faith – A trust in something bigger than yourself.
Until I became a parent, the thoughts “Why are we here?” rarely crossed my mind. Now, it’s a daily question I ask myself, and I’m sure my toddler will too, once she hits the “But why, Mama?” stage. The same question can be asked in farming. Why are we here when the milk price is so low? Why are we here when there’s no guarantee that we’ll make a return on the corn? Why are we putting our blood, sweat and tears (oh, and money – so much money) into a hopeful harvest that can be wiped out by a summer drought?
The answer is simple – we’re here to feed the world. We have a small part in growing food that will nourish bodies and minds. As for parenting, I’m focused on raising a human that will be thankful for where her food comes from and help educate others about the world she grew up in.
2. Patience – oodles, oodles and more oodles of it!
“We need to buy a [insert expensive piece of farm equipment here],” says my husband. If you’re a farmer’s spouse, you’ve also heard these words and felt the flurry of emotions that come with them. If you’re not a farmer’s spouse, envision the same reaction you have when your partner wants to buy something for their expensive hobby (e.g., boat, hunting land, vacation, etc.) In the moment I hear those words, when I want to panic, I dig deep and remind myself to be patient. In a week or so, he’ll find a cheaper one on Craigslist. Or my personal favorite, they’ll find a way to jimmy rig something and it will cost nothing. With farming comes a need to stop, breathe, re-evaluate and serve up a heaping helping of patience.
And, of course, the same can be said for raising toddlers.
3. Family – it takes a village.
The two aspects of life, farming and family, are interwoven like the strings on the twine that cover our round bales. Without our village, we wouldn’t be able to farm, work full-time, take care of a family, find time for the two of us – oh, and ourselves. An example of our village at work can be seen on Saturday mornings as my toddler supervises her uncle or father in the skid steer as they clean pens in the free stall and feed the heifers. She’s a strict boss with high standards.
Without the help of our family, it’d be tough to raise the crops and the kid. It truly takes a village to help feed the world and to raise the generation who will carry on that legacy.
Growing up on a farm was the best start to life that I could have asked for. Cows, calves, and kittens were all part of my posse and the learnings of life were a daily occurrence. And now, it’s our turn to raise the next generation of free-range farm kids while navigating the challenges of farming. I say, “bring it on,” with the support of our village and a whole lot of faith and patience.