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Posts Tagged ‘farm kids’

Where did your footsteps take you today and what kind of footprints did you leave behind?

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This past Sunday Matt and I got to attend a special church service. The little church (very near where we farm and ranch in Kansas) celebrated 125 years! His grandparents were pastors there at the time they were killed in a car accident in the 1960’s. The message of the sermon was about footprints. My mind immediately began racing about the steps we take and footprints we leave in our farming and ranching choices. The bulletin for the service was titled “Celebrating Northbranch Heritage”; every farmer’s heritage is determined by his choice of footsteps.

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(I didn’t have a picture from when the kids were little of boots – but this one is darn cute!)

I can’t help but think of how BIG some guys feet are and how ADORABLE toddlers are when they try to stand in the boots of those big men! Those young people are shaping their hopes and dreams based on the footprints we leave. Are we constantly stumbling? Are we walking proudly? Are we taking scary paths? Are we taking time to let them follow closely?

Just to lighten this up a bit…I guarantee, several times a week, we step in a pile of poop. When you have cattle in pens, there is bound to be a footprint in a cow pie. There are various ways to then clean those boots or shoes – just make sure you do before heading in the house! And I know I have attempted to step over an electric fence, only to lose my balance and get a zap on my inner thigh – yep, go ahead, laugh along with me! It’s all one can do when that happens! I hope our kids see when, in life, we figuratively “step in the poop” and learn from our mistakes! I also hope they notice that younger kids are already looking to them as an example and they REALLY need to carefully select their path!

Matt and I have been blessed with some pretty amazing footsteps to follow & we have blazed our own path a few times & all we can hope is that our “heritage” is meaningful in some way decades from now. Regardless, those who know us, are not a bit surprised by the spot in our path where there are tons of prints all in one area…those are the times we are dancing!

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Oh the anticipation of summer approaching! And in our area, that last day of school seems like it should be ever closer, as our daily temps have been really warm and joyful and oh, how the spring fever has set in! I think every young person, and at least in our house, parents too, LOVE summer vacation from school!

So, here is a picture of what Kaydee and Emmet get to look forward to over the next couple of months:

Yes, that is a whole load of upper body workout, right there! Besides raising cattle and farming, we have a fence building business and Kaydee and Emmet are the summer crew. Each and every one of the nearly 700 posts on this load will get set in a hole and tamped in place. And of course, they love it! (I am saying that because I know they read my blog and I really want to implant that thought into their heads regularly…they love it….they love it! Heehee)

Actually, they have told me in way too many conversations that they really like working with Matt. He is WAY more fun than me when it comes to hard work! And, he pays better! Well, I know this: they do have alot of fun on the job site. But, more importantly, they learn not only how to correctly build a fence, but how to work with a customer to meet their expectations, how to start and complete a job, and how to set a fair price for the work and materials. In the end, they are rewarded financially for the hours they put in and they get a little shopping trip with me. 🙂

Nearly every kid I know in rural America is no different from Kaydee and Emmet when it comes to work. They learn from a young age how to respect equipment and animals and what it means to earn a dollar. And believe it or not, many, many of those kids wish to return to rural life upon completion of college. HHHMMM….I think we might be doing something right out here in rural America!

I am concerned as a Mom. I am VERY concerned as a Mom! Why you ask? Because the United States Department of Labor is considering regulation that will prevent kids like Kaydee and Emmet from working like they do before they are 16. I know I did all kinds of work from the time I was old enough to know what was going on – as do most farm kids. I am terrified of that opportunity being taken away and snuffing out that fire that burns in the gut of any young person who truly yearns to return to production agriculture. Comments have been made and representatives have been working hard to allow kids in the future to do what has brought so many of us to the point we are. Now, we wait…

And the last posts have come off the truck:

The coolest thing happened with this load of posts…we acquired a new cat! There was a pregnant mama cat burrowed in the pile of posts. She had ridden nearly 5 hours on the truck. Of course, we need a few good mousers around the place & just our luck, the driver assured us that this cat is quite well fed & we should not plan on her putting much of a dent in any mouse population. Darn! Oh well, she’s cute. 🙂

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I saw and shared this picture yesterday on Facebook.

I had no idea, nor had I even ever thought about those statistics before I saw the picture. Not to brag, but we cattle owners are a busy bunch! This made me think about the many, many people I know and how they choose to use their time. I have to say, I think rural people, in general, are very generous with their time, whether they have livestock or not. Guess what – we have to be. There aren’t that many of us in our neighborhoods to do stuff! Maybe that is why, for the most part, we are rather happy people. Oh, yes, there is the fresh air, wide open spaces, and on and on. But mostly, I think we live truly fulfilled lives. There is something about helping others out that just makes you feel good and have more energy to keep doing more.

Two adult volunteer judges are talking to a team of young men during a contest at the North American Junior Red Angus Event

The first part of the statement in that top picture, stating that nearly 1/2 of us volunteer with youth organizations is completely true to who we are. There is a broad, general knowledge that our youth hold the future of agriculture in their hands, hearts, and minds (all of you 4-H alums should catch a hint of the pledge in there).  If we don’t stimulate the creativity, athletic ability and “cow-sense” in our young folks, we will be guilty of contributing to the ends of our means. And I don’t know about all of you, but I certainly want to be able to eat and have clothes to wear beyond my productive years, when someone else, hopefully our kids, have taken over the farming and ranching.

I want to clarify the last sentence in the paragraph above. I wouldn’t be naked and hungry because of a lack of money from not working. I would be naked and hungry because there would not be anyone growing food and fiber. Then, there is the issue of meat, milk, eggs, grains, and produce that someone has to grow…we would have no energy to do anything if we didn’t have enough healthy food.

Matt talking with a young cattle breeder about how his day is going.

So, as farmers and ranchers, when it comes to kids in our communities; we keep on keepin’ on. It is most certainly worth it!

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There are so many choices of things for kids to do after school!  I think school sports are great and if we weren’t a farm family, I would probably push my kids harder to participate in more school sports.  Then you can throw in drama, groups like FFA or FBLA, and the list can go on.  I will say, I am a believer that as long as the kids are busy and responsible to be somewhere, they aren’t making trouble (at least I hope!).

Kaydee and Emmet don’t go out for track and I am totally o.k. with that – we have plenty of things they can be doing that certainly could be qualified as somewhat of a workout!  The last day of school is getting ever closer, which means (at least on most days….when there aren’t sports camps or driver’s ed.) a full crew for building fence!  Yay!!!  I have to say, I wish I could spend time with them putting posts in the ground; I know my arms would be MUCH more toned.  Tamping posts is very good for the upper body!

I had to do a presentation tonight at a meeting, so I didn’t get home until about 8:30, but here’s what I found Kaydee doing when I pulled in the drive:

What a responsible young lady!  We have a cattle show coming up exactly one month from now.  Emmet already had his heifers rinsed, blown and tied to the fence.  Kaydee was getting hers done.  Neither of them had eaten supper yet; they were taking care of the cattle first.  This routine will take place almost everyday  through September, which is when the Nebraska State Fair is held.  That will be our last show with this group of heifers.

Only the few cattle that are 4-H or FFA projects for the year get baths and get their hair blow-dried.  In the showring, presentation is almost as important as the structural correctness of the critter.  Folks who “fit” cattle for the showring are kind of like hairdressers.  You want each hair to be the right length and going the right direction.  Really good cattle fitters are almost like artists!

Just across the grass from where Kaydee was working, Ringo was chewing on a bone from a roast we ate last weekend.  He was in doggie heaven!

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