A weekly blog for all things conservation
Raising Kids and Calves
By: Miranda Neville, Agricultural Resource Specialist
In a time when dairy farmers, or frankly any type of farmers, are struggling to stay afloat, the thought of passing down a family business seems like a very big dream and not so much a feasible reality. The struggles may be different than generations past, but one thing has stayed the same for many farm families; the concept that there is no greater place to raise a child.
Being a dairy farm mom to a spunky, sassy five-year-old daughter has been the most rewarding role. Working a full time, off-farm job at the conservation district, racing home to hear about all of the struggles of Kindergarten and making our way to the barn is our daily routine. The minute we walk in the barn any and all of our worries melt away and we are in our happy place.
Finding kid-friendly activities around the barn can be challenging but showing children why we do what we do, with smiles on our faces, can provide lasting impacts for the future farming generation. Whether it’s petting our big, loveable Brown Swiss while she’s being milked, making “sand castles” out of milk replacer powder while feeding calves, or playing with tractors in the sawdust pile she is still absorbing all of the hard work that we put into our farm.
Someday, we will look back on the daily struggles of farming with kids and realize, those days may have been long, but they were such a blessing. Simple things like making sure your kid wears their non-barn boots and coat to school or watching them riding bicycles down the feed lane avoiding curious cow tongues because dad just went through with the feed cart, can lighten any day.
Raising a farm-kid means instilling life-long lessons and allowing them to gain a sense of responsibility at a very early age – from witnessing the (traumatizing) miracle of seeing a new calf being brought into the world, being one of the only kids in class who knows where milk comes from and has actually milked a cow, to raising and showing their first calf at the county fair. On the difficult days, like when a cow is sick or injured, they get an entirely different life lesson. Making friends with the veterinarian, the sales representatives, and the milk man and having them explain their area of expertise will educate these kids on how to overcome tough situations and operate a farm from all angles.
While the future of the family farm may be uncertain, know that the future generation of farm kids we are raising is bright. Through our daily obstacles we allow them to witness, first-hand, the reason why so many people are rallying behind the small, family farm ideal.
I challenge you to ask your farm-raised children what their favorite parts of living on a farm are or what their favorite jobs or activities are. Viewing the farming industry from a child’s perspective is sometimes the break from reality all farmers need and deserve.
The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.
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Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District