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      Family farm life as rare as a rotary phone


      On our Facebook page, our readers asked about farms their families could visit, just to get a taste of the lifestyle. Several people volunteered tours of their farms. Find the information here.

      Also, for a wholesome farm-like experience, your consider enrolling your children in a 4-H chapter. They have a diversity of interests to choose from and they are not all agriculture related. My neices love 4-H. They're curing hams for the county fair. It teaches them responsiblity, public speaking and it's just educational in general. It's worth checking out. And remember, for the high school set, FFA is an option. It's not just for farm kids.


      This father's day, Dad shared the story (again!) of the memorable "gift" I gave him 20-plus years ago. I was a college kid who couldn't afford a traditional gift, so I gave something even more valuable: my time. I offered to run the tractor for him for the weekend, so he could take a break. I don't know what my gift ended up costing him, but it wasn't cheap, considering the damage to the tractor and the fence row I took out. I guess I was a little rusty behind the wheel.

      Growing up on the farm was a magical childhood for me. It was hard work for sure, but it was a liberating place for a kid. The country side was my playground. We had lots of trees to climb, ponds to fish and swim, places to explore. My brothers, sisters and I (nine of us in all) pulled some pretty stupid stunts, like playing in the grain bins and horsing around on equipment, but safety didn't seem like such an issue then. Those were the days before car seats when we actually fought to ride in the back window of the car. My parents would actually arm me with a machete at age 7 and send me out to the fields to chop weeds for the day.

      When I think of how many of my friends came from farms and compare that to today, it makes me sad for that dwindling way of life. People just don't farm like they used to.

      The farm crisis of the 1980's changed the family farm lifestyle forever. That was the time so many farmers were forced from the field into the factories. Their wives too had to give up their stay-at-home status to find work wherever they could. When times improved, most of those families never returned to full-time farming and their children didn't take up the challenge either. It's hard to blame anyone for avoiding farming when there are so many factors out of your control; the weather, commodity prices, equipment breakdowns and overhead. Even my dad gave it up a few years ago in favor of his other love: politics.

      I feel fortunate that my girls have a place to experience life on the farm. My sister and her husband have row crops and raise livestock on their farm outside Monroe City. The kids love to hang out there. It makes me nostalgic for those days of riding on the tractor with Dad and learning how to drive one myself. The farm taught me responsibility at a very young age. I was so much more self-sufficient as a child than my children are today. Raising my own hogs put me through my first year of college. My kids argue about who's going to change the guinea pig cage once a week. They don't want to go outside unless I threaten them. And they roll their eyes when I start a sentence with, "When I was your age..." The farm lifestyle may be dying, but some things never change ;)

      Take care ~Sarah