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young girl petting cow in barn

Fresh veggies in the summer and brisk winter snow hills are all reminders of growing up on my parent’s farm. Any farm kid understands the challenges of growing up on a farm—like using the tractor to pull a neighbour out of the ditch during a snowstorm or getting your boots so stuck in the mud that you had to walk out of them (sorry mom, for the muddy socks). Whether it was learning to ride my bike for quick trips to the barn, or watching the fields grow every summer, I can’t imagine growing up anywhere else.

Being raised on a dairy farm provides amazing opportunities for learning and growth. Take a look at these 7 life lessons that illustrate why I consider myself lucky for growing up on a dairy farm!

  1. Farm kids know how to get their hands dirty. Getting dirty was inescapable. Most of the time it came from the work—equipment stuck in mud, washing down the barn, even just bedding down stalls. The worst part? Dumping sawdust out of your boots time and time again.

  1. Chores were inevitable. Summers were dedicated to seemingly endless hours of picking green beans, apples, or berries. A farmer’s tan was your badge of honour. A free Saturday in spring was set aside to pick rocks from the field, which was—for the record—considered a family outing. After school, you would go home and feed calves before settling in to do your homework. Farm kids know the value of hard work.

  1. The best snacks were from the garden. Yes, picking green beans was a tedious task, but picking the raspberries was the best task of the summer. Though, it was a toss-up of how many berries actually ended up in your bucket verses your belly. Freshly picked carrots and homegrown tomatoes were the best way to end a days’ work!

  1. You had a love/hate relationship with weather. Early on in your life, you learned that the forecast could not be trusted—the weatherman could report a sunny day as a storm cloud rolls in from the distance. A field of crops that could have fed the cows for an entire year can be destroyed in the flash of a hail storm. Within the same week it gets so dry that you find yourself praying that it will rain.

  1. Play time required imagination. Some kids rely on playgrounds or public parks to have fun, but kids living in rural areas have to get creative. Whether it was a game of Kick the Can in the yard, or sidewalk chalk outside the milkhouse—there were no limits to the amount of fun to be had (so long as you had a healthy imagination). Chances are, you’ve even been scolded by your parents for playing tag on bales or on silage bags.

  1. The value of life. Farm kids have learned the value of life, from watching in amazement as new calves are born, to revelling in excitement at the opportunity to feed a new calf. Farm kids learn the basics of animal husbandry from watching their family members care for cows.

  1. Humility. Working under the watchful eyes of your parents made you realize one thing: whether or not you did it “wrong” was less important than what you did to improve it. Life on the farm had many variables and was constantly changing, which meant that you were also continually learning. Humility is key to learning and growing on a dairy farm.

From crop touring to learning to drive the skidsteer, I’m proud of growing up on a Canadian dairy farm because I earned an invaluable education—and “there’s some things you can’t do inside those city limits”.

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