Thankful for life lessons


Our county 4-H Club had its first in-person meeting in over a year last month. Each member was challenged to introduce themselves and speak about their project at the meeting. It was great to see the passion from children who were taking responsibility for animals they would exhibit at the upcoming county fair. Many of them have been showing throughout the spring and summer months.

This year will be the first time our family will exhibit livestock at the Washington County (Ark.) Fair. Our oldest son has been raising two breeds of laying hens since the spring of 2020. Last year, due to a shortage of blood testing kits, his breed was cut from the show. I felt a little bit overwhelmed during the meeting as parents spoke about the rules for weigh-ins, health papers and blood tests.

Thankfully, a very knowledgeable mother was speaking about the preparation of poultry exhibits for the fair. My ears perked up and I was paying close attention to everything she said. After the meeting, she was kind enough to answer my questions regarding poultry exhibits. I left with her phone number so if I had more questions, I could contact her again. My son had no idea that his mother did not have all the answers before that day. I am not always the smartest person in the room, but I am pretty good at finding the person who is.

Last week, our 11-year-old son and I went into the henhouse to assess his stock. We looked over each bird and chose the hens he thought looked like blue ribbon fair winners. We took pictures of the soon-to-be show girls and put bands on their legs. We need to take them up to the fairgrounds for a blood test before the fair. I have received some hints and tips on some other things we need to do to prepare his hens for show day. He is preparing to enter two pens of each of his breeds. I loved watching him take ownership of the project. He even helped fill out part of his entry form.

Each of our children has something at our farm that they are taking responsibility for. We have loved teaching them life lessons through livestock, pets, our garden and more. I truly believe every little thing they are allowed to experience through this responsibility will pay off for them in adulthood. 

With our oldest daughter, we have been able to teach valuable lessons regarding time management through her summer job experience. Our younger daughter is an absolute task master. She can rally the troops in our household to get chores finished in record time with her honed leadership skills. Our oldest son has gleaned some amazing skills as a mechanic by shadowing my husband and other farm helpers. It is amazing to hear him speak fluently about things that I must later search the internet to understand what he was talking about. Our youngest son has been faithfully mowing the neighbor’s yard all summer. The profits from this endeavor have been burning a hole in his pocket. We have had great conversations about money management with him. I am so thankful for our farm and for 4-H projects to teach life lessons to the children. 

We have all learned some new things this summer, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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