Tonight, among all the things I am grateful for, the lack of horrible things that have befallen me, and the blessings I have, I am tonight grateful for how I was raised.
People today so often want to complain about “kids these days.” Less commonly I have seen the comment that the problem with society isn’t “kids these days,” but the parents raising them. Aren’t kids the product of their parenting? Absolutely! And any problem THEY have is with how THEY were raised, right?
I am grateful for the farm. Those who don’t know or agree, just don’t understand. Living and working on a farm changes everything. That is certainly not to say that being brought up on a farm automatically makes you an angel and perfect parent or even a perfect person. Not at all. Of course not. That is not what I’m saying.
I’m only speaking in generalities. It is a general truth that work brings discipline and self-respect. Self-respect brings respect for others and good behavior. I’m just saying that farm life brings a better way of life and general personage for most involved.
As a nation, most of our food has, in years recent, began to come more from larger more corporate farms. Family farms are dying out by the day. Y’all know I am passionate about the family farm. Most of y’all don’t live on one anymore, and that’s probably all right. I’m just saying, as fewer and fewer of us are brought up in this “best way,” fewer and fewer of us and our children will know the reasons why this is the best life to live. Allow me to prove this to the majority who have no idea what I’m talking about.
Being brought up a farm teaches loss. Animals die, and crops are harvested. Sometimes it rains enough, and sometimes it doesn’t. Taking the good years and times with the worst teaches an acceptance that you know in your soul that you can’t read or buy anywhere else.
The everyday chores of a farm teach you discipline. I recently watched a YouTube thing with Will Smith, the actor. It was all about self-discipline, and he touched on something for me. He said how discipline isn’t about punishment, as we so often think the word implies, but about love. The Bible says the Lord chastises those whom he loves. And if you love yourself, won’t you discipline yourself? Won’t you delay that gratification of that donut and love yourself enough to say, no you don’t need that? YOU will feel better later if you don’t? Farm life teaches this. Slowly, painfully, daily. Long-term gratification. Discipline. Waiting on crops to grow or rain to fall.
Things that are really internalized aren’t learned in one day but repeated and swallowed. I’ve written before about the difference in something that is an accepted truth, like, yes I hear you and I know you are right, versus, I have learned this myself! To learn something yourself and internalize it is so different. Farm life teaches loss and discipline.
A farmer who cares about himself cares also about his animals. Animals aren’t born at convenient times, nor do they get sick at convenient times. Their crises and ailments must be dealt with above our own wants, and THIS is what teaches us our lessons. In cold weather, in rain, in snow, when we had other plans, when it is painful, we must care for the animals. This is the best, best, Christian lesson we never knew we even learned. To put others above ourselves is paramount in a worthwhile life.
Farm life isn’t just about discipline, accepting loss, and putting others first, but also about prayer and faith. Growing up, I recall so many times, being so worried about the corn. Please, please, Lord, let it rain so the corn will grow! We need this corn to feed the cows to feed ourselves! Please, Lord, bring us rain! And He always has…
As a child, I watched my brothers and my dad “create” things on the farm all the time, that served a need. The mother of invention, right? Necessity? It’s only on the farm. And in meeting these needs, we were made stronger, and smarter, and more confident. I can do anything!
I watched my youngest son help split wood this weekend. Without a chainsaw at the time, he was splitting wood that should’ve been cut some more. The wood splitter wouldn’t go back far enough, and the next thing you know, the 14-year-old had rigged a thing where he put a block of wood above the other to take up the extra space. I know you probably can’t picture in your mind what I’m talking about, but I assure you, as a farm mother, I was sure proud. THIS is what I’m talking about. He saw a need, and he figured it out with what he had. I didn’t help or find out about it until it was done, because he was working without me. Independence! THESE are the infinite times when no one can briefly and accurately ever articulate the priceless value of farm life and country lessons. HOW to do something with nothing and HOW to figure things out. THESE are the engineers of tomorrow and WE are the genius, poor farmers at the base of this fantastic pyramid of our future.
Get your kids outside. Let them be bored and figure things out for themselves. Let them get hurt. Their feelings and their bodies! Let them fail! Then we all learn, from our mistakes. From these times are we made greater, and I am grateful. These things make us invincible!
A teacher and mother, Meagan Morehead Bradshaw lives on a farm in Bland County; contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.