My family gathered recently to celebrate the birthdays of my niece and nephew – the Wee Turners as I like to call them. As we approached their house, I saw a wonderful sight – about a dozen kids jumping from big round bale to big round bale. My husband said those bales were better than any trampoline or toy on the market. He’s right.
The kids weren’t asking to go into house to play video games or complaining that they were bored because there was nothing to do, they made their own fun on those big round bales. They were all farm kids, even if it was just for the day for some of them.
They played in the pastures, played with the kittens in the barn, got dirty and they loved every minute of it.
There are some advantages to being a farm kid that our in-town counterparts might not of had. I remember some of my friends saying I was “lucky” that I lived on a farm. I didn’t see it at the time, but they were right – I was a pretty lucky kid.
I was lucky to have acres to run and play on, not just a city block. I was lucky to have parents who taught my brothers and I the value of hard work.
I was lucky to learn about the circle of life at a young age and how to work with animals. I was lucky to have a pony named Tootsie, even though she did bite me, and a dog named Yeller that was my best friend when I was about 6 years old until I was in my early teens.
I was lucky to grow up in a time when it was OK to go play in the woods without an adult. I was lucky to have a mom who didn’t complain about us coming home with dirty clothes and faces, and who didn’t complain too much when we washed heifers from time to time in the back yard.
I was really lucky in the show ring one summer and won a couple of championship plaques with a heifer. Luckily, I was the only one at those shows with a Jersey heifer that year.
When I was in my teens, we raised several bottle calves. I think we raised 20 or so at a time and I remember hauling bottles and 5-gallon buckets filled with milk replacer in my wheelbarrow back and forth across the road. Dad brought me home a brand new wheelbarrow once and I felt pretty lucky to have something that had higher sides and room for more bottles.  
Looking back, I had pretty good childhood and there are countless memories that I will forever carry with me.
Luckily, the younger generation of my family is finding that growing up on a farm isn’t all that bad. I have two great-nieces who, at the ripe old age of 10 months, love to go feed cattle and hogs with their parents.
Being a farm kid wasn’t always a bed of roses. There were chores to do, no matter the weather, and there were cuts, scraps and bruises, and knocks on the head along the way, but luckily no broken bones.
We didn’t always have what we wanted, but we had what we needed – and there were always bales of hay.
After many years, Ozarks Farm & Neighbor columnist Dusty Richards has bid readers a farewell.
We here at Ozarks Farm & Neighbor wish him well will in his continued writing ventures of telling the stories of the Old West, which I believe is his real passion.
Dusty has offered a unique look at rural life and his stories of his younger days offered our readers an opportunity to walk down memory lane and recall their own childhood adventures.
Our hats are off to Dusty as he continues down the next trail of his life and we wish him many happy days ahead.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here