Friday, March 18, 2011

Shutting Gates

Our girls are very fortunate. We live in a place where they can run circles around our house (always being cognizant of the potential dog bombs), enjoy bike rides in a big driveway and fly kites without worrying about neighbor's rooftops or power lines. Country living- for kids as far as hanging out time is concerned- is good.

Along the same lines, this country living is great for future employment endeavors. Our girls love to chore with Dad. Even Amelia, who is not quite two, loves to check "baby [c]ows" with Dad, donning her green bug boots, basically for ceremony's sake, as she's usually carried around the lots. Anna especially is enjoying the farm kid's life, and is getting to the age where Joe feels as if she is responsible enough to take on a few odd jobs when they go out choring.

Case in point, this morning: despite a bout with sickness this week and a weird rash, there was no way I was going to keep her in the house this morning, as today is the beginning of our district's spring break. Anna, as she tends to do, was up before all of us, whispering in Dad's ear that she was ready to go when he was. She didn't realize it was 5:30, and Joe wasn't quite ready to rock and roll just yet, after a late night of watching March Madness!

Anyway, I have been hearing, as I waddle around this morning, the four wheeler buzzing all around across the road, as Joe and Anna, holding her on his lap, are out to check the pasture for new calves. I equate this process to hunting Easter eggs. Unlike new mamas, bred heifers and ol' cows (i.e., experienced mothers) are easy calvers and quick to nurse. Joe basically is an obstetrician at this time, in the sense that he some times comes in to the rescue to catch a baby calf, or just waltzes around, doing his "rounds," making sure that all is well. With the new moms, he has to be both the hardworking Labor and Delivery Nurse as well as the OB, but this gig with the more experienced moms is less stressful.

Can you tell what's on my mind???

But I digress...back to the jobs my KIDS have...

While checking calves is fun, Anna really gets a kick out of little responsibilities her dad gives her when she's out being helpful. There are gates to open and close, buckets to haul, and the dog to round up. Anna is given the opportunity to feel a part of something bigger than just riding around on the four wheeler or in the truck. She is his constant companion, and if he wants her to stay this way, he's got to keep her interested, involved, and engaged.

I think about my experience with my dad's early farming days. There were a lot of factors that kept my brother and me at arm's length to this side of my dad. There was the simple fact that we lived in town, 35 minutes away from the farm, and then there's the aspect of my personality that is like my Josie, the fact that I was (and still am) very girly and more interested in what I was going to WEAR to the farm. Thus, I never had a job to do with Dad. He was just a "part timer" at the time, and had no livestock. Thus, the "chores" my brother and I could participate in were walking beans (literally pulling weeds from the rows of soybeans), mowing the grass (if you haven't read my story about how I will never mow the lawn, let me know), or sitting in the tractor, planter, grain cart, or combine and just riding.

Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Life for a livestock kid isn't all fun and games and shutting gates, however. Dad has to be given a lot of grace, during this busy time, and may or may not be at the baseball game, or may or may not be at the parent teacher conference. He may or may not be able to take a kid with due to the weather, circumstance of the day, whatever. But, our farm dad, when my girls do go with him, makes sure that each kid has something age and personality appropriate to participate in.

I only hope that Anna will just share the bare minimum details of the calf she just saw being born with her kindergarten class!


  1. That is so wonderful! Hank is the same way with Emily. Right now we are having lambs so they get to go to the barn and check to see who is having or already had their lamb. She has her little jobs too. One that she does daily is collecting eggs from her chickens. I didn't grow up on a farm and many days I wish I had but I am so glad she is getting to.

  2. My Mr. M is like this with our babes. They are now 10 and 8, and each have little things they love to do. They frequently want to stay home from school when they know a calf is on the way. My husband works for Pioneer, so I get to be resident OB and calf helper. And our son @ 5 told my parents how to A.I. a cow. And they love explaining to all their friends their life on a farm. Happy Weekend!