“Good morning, good morning, good morning, it’s time to rise in shine. Good morning, good morning, good morning, I hope you’re feeling fine” This was the normal wakeup call I received growing up, when I hit snooze too many times and my Dad would have to come in my room and remind me to go feed my animals before school.
Growing up I never once thought twice about how I was raised. My parents lived on the farm in rural Northern California about 10 minutes from town. It was close enough that trips to the grocery store or shopping were not an ordeal. Yet, far enough that we could play outside or in the orchard and we didn’t bother anyone. Working in the orchards during summer or holiday breaks was the norm. Sure, I was able to the movies with friends or hang out at the river. But not before I completed my chores and fed my animals.
Nowadays, when I return home and hear my Dad’s wake-up call it reminds me of the many memories made and the lessons learned growing up on the farm.
Responsibility. We had animals who depended on us. They couldn’t feed themselves, we needed to be there to feed them twice a day. When it was lambing season and there was a problem, we needed to be there to help pull a lamb or bottle feed a sick baby. When the pigs were knee high in manure, they needed us to shovel some out before they got stuck in the mud. It was our responsibility to ensure the animals were taken care of, fed and happy before we could head to school or off for the weekend.
Budgeting. At the age of nine when I bought my first sheep, I went down to the bank with my mother and opened a checking account. I was responsible for buying my own feed, paying my vet bills, and budgeting my expenses. I wasn’t given an allowance like all the other kids at school, I was learning to earn my own money and make sure I had enough left over to buy my next lamb. Through the years I was able to add to my herd of breeding sheep and make enough money to assist with my college education. As a college kid I was pretty happy my parents taught me to manage my money so I had a savings to help me out. And after college, I was even more happy with no college debt I needed to pay off.
Hard Work. Farm life isn’t easy. There are long hours and hot days. I learned at a young age that things don’t come easy to those who don’t work. I used to hate getting up early in the morning to feed my animals. When fair time came around my animals cooperated with me and we placed well. I knew it was because the hours we spent together practicing in the barn. A little sweat and perseverance you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. At the end of the day if you have straw in your bra, splinters in your hands and dirt on your face then it was good day. The joys of watching your hard work pay off make it all worth it, the day you get that crop harvested or animals sold.
Persistence. You may not always make money. You may not always have a crop to harvest. You may not always have an animal to sell. But with a little persistence you can try again. My husband’s grandfather always told us the story of the year he farmed bell peppers, and so did everyone else. There was not enough demand for his crop and the harvesting costs were higher than the selling price. He decided to pay for sheep herders to bring sheep in to eat the peppers instead. He lost his money that year, but next year he planted them again. He was the only farmer that year with bell peppers and he made back his money and some. Sometimes with a little persistence your hard work will pay off.
Your lessons learned on the farm don’t always come easy, and sometimes you don’t know the lesson until after you’ve made a mistake. Farm life teaches you practical life experiences that will stick with you. You will stumble, you will fall down, you will fail, but you will appreciate the lesson learned and you will succeed in the end.
Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny