Dairy Farmers: Better Prepared for Life?

Life in the Farm Lane

5/15/2014 2:52 PM

I recently came across a social media link for the top six reasons milking cows prepare you for life. According to http://gaabanter.ie, an Irish entertainment website, the reasons are routine, responsibility, hygiene, don’t waste, large group management and learning the value of money.

For the most part, I agree with this article. Being raised on a dairy farm has taught me all those things, and I hope to instill them in my son, as well.

Something I feel was left off this list is that living on a farm teaches you the importance of reliability and honesty. The cows are relying on you to get your butt out of bed to take care of them. They’re relying on you to stay up all night planting corn so they can eat over the winter. Your family is relying on you to uphold generations of farming traditions and family heritage. You’re relying on yourself to get everything done correctly in a timely, efficient, safe manner.

Honesty – and trust – isn’t as straightforward as the other topics. A lot of farming, especially in the tradition of my father and grandfather, is done with a handshake. You borrow the neighbor’s manure spreader with the honest, nonverbal agreement that you’ll return it in one working piece. And if you don’t, you pay to repair it. You trust your cattle hauler to be honest when the cattle he delivers to the market are actually yours and not the cows of another, maybe less honest, farmer. (This is especially important today with the fears of drug residues in meat.) The hoof trimmer does a day’s worth of tiring, dirty and sometimes painful work with the trust that you’ll be honest and pay him.

So yes, I agree that living on a farm teaches youths valuable life lessons. But at the same time, I believe all of these values can be taught in the middle of a city, as well. Parents should be capable of teaching their children how to be upstanding citizens who show up for work on time each day; put forth their best work in an honest fashion; go home, without throwing a McDonald's wrapper out the window; and cook nutritious, farm-grown meals for their families.

That being said, I wouldn’t trade my upbringing for the world. There’s just no way to put into words what kind of life a farm kid has. It’s simply amazing.

~ Jessica Rose Spangler, market editor

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