Here are eight things that mothers of farm kids who have livestock, would like to share with you. From the reasons why despite being clean, they smell vaguely like a farm animal to the unexpected real life farm experience your child may gain when they come to visit or the reasons behind their excited-ness or sadness on various occasions (#6).
1. Occasionally, though our children are clean, they still smell like a farm animal.
Often, on the way out of the house to attend an activity, our kids decide to look over things one more time, despite the fact they are clean. They go out to the barn for a final check to see if their favorite sow is farrowing or to double check that the waterer isn’t frozen over in the cattle lot. It happens, bear with us. They often decide that their chore coat or favorite chore boots are most comfortable to wear, and throw them on in the haste of getting out to the car. Again, bear with us.
2. When your kid comes to hang at our house, playtime can be a little different.
It is no surprise that we have litters of stuffed animals in our home on a regular basis. When a friend comes over, they will be an honorary stuffed animal veterinary assistant for the day. If there’s a “stuck stuffy” inside the laboring stuffed animal, my children will do what it takes to properly re-position and pull that baby stuffed animal out. Then it will be “dried off” and get its first drinks of colostrum*. And yes, if there’s any question of what colostrum is, the miniature veterinarians in the room will clear up any confusion.
3. They may use some colorful language, on occasion.
If you have grown up on a farm, there’s no secret that colorful language can pop up in stressful farm situations, ie: waterers breaking, cows are out, etc. Kids hear this and typically use it in the same situations down the road, but it is not uncommon for those words or phrases to show up in other places too, (like with my kids, at preschool).
4. They may skip your kid’s birthday party, a school dance or a field trip to go to a livestock show.
Not everyone who farms shows livestock. For those who do, it is widely known that nothing should be planned during the weeks of a show, ie: county fairs and livestock expos. So much hard work goes into preparing their project for this moment.
5. Birds and the bees? They may learn it here.
There’s no doubt about it, on any farm where there’s livestock, there’s a potential to have questions arise about anything that is seen that looks unfamiliar to kids. This is especially true if visits occur during breeding times or birthing times on the farm. If this discussion comes up, we’ll do our best to avoid revealing too much, but our children may speak up and let their friends know what’s really going on (as both of my kids have done, in great amounts of detail, starting in their preschool years).
(*See photo bombers demonstrating my point in the upper left hand corner of this picture. This will happen, and likely happen when your kid is at our house. FYI.)
6. Sometimes my kids are sad because no matter how hard they worked, an animal died.
For various reasons, most of which are out of our control and despite our greatest efforts as farmers, animals can die. Personally, this life lesson is the hardest for me to help my kids through. In most facets of their life, we teach our children that if they try hard, they will become more successful, or be rewarded in some capacity. The lesson of “no matter how hard you try, nothing will work” is the most difficult one for most kids to understand. Consequently, it is the most complex life lesson to teach. On the other side of the pain, these experiences make our children better, and appreciate the hard work, dedication and sacrifice of others’, farmers or not, even more.
7. They find joy in the small moments.
Because our kids experience the circle of life from an early age, they tend to seek out the good in things, experiences and people. Farm life is admittedly tough, but along with the hard experiences, come beautiful ones too. In any 24 hour stretch on our farm, our kids are exposed to a rollercoaster of emotions. Parenting through that is challenging some days, but worth it.
8. We want your kids to have fun and learn something when they come visit us.
Our children beam with pride as they walk around the barn. One of the best things to experience as a farm mom is the pride our children take in showing their friends our livestock that they work hard to care for. Kids ask the greatest questions and it is so interesting to listen to the honest, genuine conversations that happen between farm kids and their friends who may have never visited a farm.
*Just like with humans, colostrum is the animal mother’s first milk available to her offspring after giving birth. It is highly beneficial to a newborn animal’s health.