The farm raises more than just crops

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children

To be surrounded by the very youngest, happiest children is a gift I never take for granted.

We are lucky. Not only do we have four very young grandchildren living near enough to see often, but we are also close to adult nieces and nephews with young children who love us enough to be part of our lives. We can call them for extra hands when we need them, and a big job can become a fun gathering.

I grew up knowing that the adults were clearly in charge. We knew not to talk back, to question the way chores were doled out. If one of us so much as thought to protest, all it took was “the look” and we moved as quick as a flash to show that we were following orders.

When I was very young, our house was heated with coal. I still remember the coal delivery, hearing the big, black chunks being dumped into the coal bin in the cellar. I remember our dad emptying ashes from the furnace and filling it with coal.

So, our Saturday job during the cold months was to fill the ashes into buckets and carry it up out of the old cellar steps, then emptying the ashes onto the driveway. Four girls repeated this process until the cellar floor was cleared, sweeping all remnant ashes away.

I was old enough to remember the day Dad said it was time for a new furnace, and it meant we no longer would require coal. No coal meant no more hauling ashes. Oh, happy day! It didn’t mean Saturdays were suddenly free-wheeling fun. The barns and the farms kept us busy with other chores, but no more ashes!

About 10 years ago, a co-worker told me she was having issues with her teenage daughter. She refused to help by unloading the dishwasher, her only chore. Thinking out loud, I said my parents would have fixed this by forcing us to wash, dry and put away dishes by hand until the point was made. “Are you kidding me? She would never do that!”

I am so happy to see that the small children in my life have chores that they do willingly. My grandson, now 7, has gone out and picked up sticks and carried them to a burning pile for a few years now. He isn’t told repeatedly he has to do it, he just knows it needs to be done.

A farm raises more than soybeans and corn. A farm raises children who are learning so many things not taught in any other arena of life. Every day, I realize we are among the lucky ones to still live this way.

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