As I push the age of 40, I find myself getting more philosophical. How did I get here? Where have I come from? What’s next? And then one of my children interrupts my deep thoughts and asks for some chocolate milk.
In August we hosted a group of 20 family members covering three states at our farm. During a long night of card playing, I looked around the table and considered the generations of farmers represented.
My great-grandparents came here from Germany and worked a beautiful farm in northwest Iowa. My earliest farm memories are of my own grandparents on that same place. My sister and I were given rides on horses and tractors for the first time by our uncle. We even climbed on top of a farrowing barn to witness our first birth (piglets) much to our grandfather’s dismay. It was like Disneyland to us. The corn was tall and the grass was always green. The house was painted a brilliant white with a matching fence. I was always fascinated with the old-time dinner bell in the front yard.
Today that century-old farm is run by an uncle and his family. His children and grandchildren continue to make their memories there. My parents passed their legacy of farm history onto me. I have great memories of my dad running beef cattle and hair sheep on his farm. We grew up riding horses and showing cattle. I learned how to garden by watching my mom work in hers.
So I wondered, maybe there is a “farming gene” that gets passed to us in our DNA – something in the bloodline that causes this lifestyle to flow through the generations. Let’s face it; today’s generation is not programmed for toiling in the soil.
I explored this theory further as I thought about my husband’s family. We were able to count back at least four generations of cattlemen in Arkansas and Oklahoma. He cannot remember many summers where he wasn’t put to work cutting and baling hay. He recalls childhood weekends vaccinating the herd and rotating pastures. Hard work was never a box that could be checked as “optional.”
Then I considered my own offspring and things that they will remember about growing up here on our farm. Our 5-year-old son practices loading and hauling cattle with his toy trucks and equipment on a daily basis. I know he learned this from watching his dad. He carefully places plastic hay bales out for his faux dairy and beef cattle because he’s seen his dad bundle up to feed hay through the winter for our own cattle. There’s even an occasion when his faux cattle get out. In a panic he asks everybody to help him round them up. He’s an acute fence builder with plastic and wood blocks.
They may recall with a scowl how we’ve had them help pick up sticks and limbs in the pasture after a storm. Or they may grumble when they recall scooping manure out of the chicken coop. Our hope is to raise four people that value hard work, respect the land and understand what it means to live a fulfilling life.
A farm is a great place to thrive and ours is a place that we love to share with others. Farming is in our DNA neighbor, and aren’t you so glad you got that gene? I know I am.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here