When I go out to do chores everyday, I have a little helper–my shadow–I affectionally call her. It’s my daughter, and she goes wherever her mommy goes and does whatever mommy does. It’s cool…she’s 3! However, when I was telling another (town) mom about this, she had this look on her face, like “How dare I have my child help me or work on our family farm! What kind of mother was I?”
Well, dear readers, the fact is, farm children don’t view “helping on the farm” as work. They view it as fun.
My 10 year old comes running up the lane every day, and if he sees his dad or I outside, he runs into the house, unpacks his book bag, gets his chore clothes on, and is back outside. It might take him 5 minutes–max–from the time he is off the bus to the time he meets us outside. He loves farm work–chasing the chickens in the barn in the evening, checking for eggs, watching gates when we feed the cows. He doesn’t need to be out with us after school–he WANTS to be out with us.
Even on days when I absolutely need him to work, he is more than willing to help. For instance, the other day, the gate was accidentally left open to the cows. After breakfast I looked outside and all 110 cows were in the hay yard, happily helping themselves to breakfast. I went out to feed them & put them back in, and my son comes running after me, yelling “Wait for me!” He comes in the tractor with me, and out to the hay yard we go. I was just going to feed and hope the cows followed, when my son told me that he was going to put the girls (aka cows) in while I fed. A few followed me, but some of the more stubborn ones needed to be physically herded back into their pasture. My son had the patience and persistence to get all 110 cows out of the hay yard! When he was done, he climbed back up in the tractor cab and said to me, “Mom, you couldn’t of done that without me!”
No, son, no I couldn’t! And I thanked and praised him for his efforts.
My daughter on the other hand, who has normally helped all the time with the chickens and lends a hand as she can with the cows, has recently learned to work the controls in the tractor to lift the bale into the bale processor and rotate the bale once it’s in the processor. This is huge help, because it saves us time running back and forth from the back of the processor to the tractor and back again. In addition to running the hydraulic controls on the tractor she has started to “drive” the side-by-side. Standing, she can press on the pedal and drive through a gate. The side-by-side is a diesel (it doesn’t go that fast–20 mph max) and when you let off the gas, it stops. She also helps in the corrals with the cows and when I do pen checks on our backgrounded steers. She isn’t afraid of the cows and they respect her. Our animals are used the the kids being around, and the kids have grown up with them, and respect the animals, as well.
By having our children help us around the farm with tasks that they are able to help with builds self confidence. It also teaches them to follow directions and listen. They don’t view it as work, but as fun, helping mom & dad, and being part of a team.