Hard Lessons on the Farm can Have Positive Outcomes

The following editorial will be published in the mid-November issue of Farm Journal.

Most of us who grew up on the farm learned how to work from our parents’ example. I can tell you that as a kid I learned how to do certain jobs by watching and listening, and sometimes I didn’t do either very well. The time I put corn-based grain (creep feed) in a liquid feeder by our hay barn is a good case in point. Yep, you read that right. Not only did I do that, but I complained to my Mom when I got back up to the house that it sure was hard to get that feed into the feeder, which was half full of liquid mineral I might add.

My mother was a mild-mannered, short little woman who rarely raised her voice to me. Not that day. She got in my face, told me I had just wasted a lot of money we didn’t have to waste and basically said, without actually saying it, “Rhonda, how dumb could you be?” (Is anyone out there squirming, because you’ve implied as much with your own kids and now regret it? If we were in church, I’d ask for an Amen.)

Once she calmed down, we went to check the feeder together and found that grain mixture setting up like a big, brown square of peanut brittle. There wasn’t anything we could do but let it sit and harden. The next afternoon, though, Mom sent me back to the feeder with a tire iron and told me to break the feed into chunks and lay it on the ground where the cattle could eat it. I quickly did as I was told. End of story—sort of.

Someone asked me the other day whether I still recall that experience and added that they “won’t tell anyone at Farm Journal about it.” Yes, I remember, I told them; how could I forget? It was one of those hard lessons—the kind you always remember, because it was painful.

Right about now, you might be remembering your own hard lessons on the farm or one that your children had to learn. Consider how it turned out and how you might have handled it differently. Maybe you need to mention it to your kids and give them a hug or have a laugh together. After all, lessons are something we’re all supposed to learn from to improve our lives. I know I have.