This post is going live much later than anticipated, but it has just been one of those days. Do you know what I mean? The faucet at our barn erupted. You just can’t get cows milked and equipment washed without warm water. To complicate things further my husband was supposed to leave in the late morning hours for his delivery route. Everything got off schedule and it always seems to happen on delivery days. To make matters worse I needed to be in the next town over for a board meeting for our homeschool group. My head was spinning. Gary was still not back from searching for the new pieces to repair the faucet, he was supposed to have already left for deliveries, the cows needed to be milked, and I had to be at my meeting. How did we mange it? We couldn’t have if our children had not already been used to working as a team and doing whatever was needed to keep things going. At 1:00 this afternoon, I was singing the praises of our kids and so thankful for all those times when we were the bad mommy and daddy for making them do chores when their friends did not have to endure such hardships. Our thirteen year old rounded up the cows and took care of a lot of the feeding and watering. Our 9 year old fed and watered the chickens and gathered the eggs; while the girls took over milking.
If you were to ask our children, they would probably say that they are thankless cheap labor. However, there is much more to the value of farm chores than cheap labor. Homeschooling parents, like most parents, are concerned about more than just their children’s academics. They desire for them to grow into responsible adults with a high level of integrity. If there is one thing I hear repeatedly from other parents in our homeschool group is their challenge in finding ways of developing a work ethic in their kids. After all there are only so many times they can make their beds, clean the bathroom, mow the grass, or do the other handful of things that need to be done around the house.
We use chores around the house and on the farm as a much larger part of the training up of our children.
Work is a Reality of Life
Today’s culture slams parents with the assumption that kids should be catered to. Isn’t it mom’s job to be their personal taxi service to and fro to various activities and get togethers with friends? Isn’t it dad’s responsibility to work himself to the bone to fund all of the kids’ activities? After all, even in attending our local homeschool convention, I have felt guilty if I didn’t tailor mix curriculum to make school as pleasurable and fun for my child. Then our society sits back and wonders why we don’t have good employees in the workforce.
A friend came by to visit around the time that we were to begin evening chores. We had him and his family come out to the barn. In standing back to watch his reaction, I noticed his amazement that the kids knew just what was supposed to be done and took care of their jobs without direction and coercion. I think I actually saw some envy in his face after having worked that day as the HR specialist for our local Walmart. We will truly be raising up a remarkable generation only if they are trained to be responsible contributors and not just consumers.
What a shock to most kids when they graduate from their formal education and actually have to work for a living. This should not be. If we as parents are building appropriate levels of chores and responsibility into their upbringing making the move into the workforce should feel like the next natural step and not a shocking jolt.
If Man Does Not Work, He Shall Not Eat
We have tried to remind our children of this verse from scripture. God’s economy had provision for work and was not based on subsidy programs and entitlements. They experienced this first hand this past year in a very real way when our furnace went out. Our budget was tight, so we decided to fully utilize our wood burning stove and the wood on our land for a while before getting the furnace repaired. The kids learned that if they wanted to be warm, they had to be a part of the team that made that happen.
We trudged out in the woods and found trees that had already been down for a while in hopes that the wood was already seasoned. They helped use the chainsaw to cut it into smaller pieces and load it into the bucket of the tractor to be hauled out of the woods. Once back at the house, we split and stacked the wood. Each morning, afternoon, and night wood would be moved from outside into our laundry room and then in smaller amounts throughout the day into our living room to feed the stove.
The real object lesson began when everyone overslept during the night and we would rise to a house that was pretty chilly. No one wanted to get out from under the covers, but the chores at the barn had to be done and schoolwork finished. Before long we had volunteers to take late night feedings – feeding the woodstove to keep the house warm.
It was really rewarding to hear a discussion one evening that the kids were having in realizing that if all the power went out, we would be OK. We could stay warm by using the wood stove and even cook soup on top. They were starting to put the pieces together.
Train them to be who you want them to become
Right after Gary and I were married, a couple that was mentoring us in our church gave us the following advise when asking about starting a family.
Figure out what you want your children to be able to do when they leave your home and then intentionally instill those traits and skills into their lives a little bit at a time.
We took this advise to heart. When the kids were little we attempted to find jobs that they could do under my watchful eye in the house.
They were then given chores to do on the farm that could be done under their dad’s supervision.
Three of our children are now in their teen years. Many responsibilities have been turned completely over to them after showing themselves as trustworthy and capable.
Use the Day In and Day Out to Discover Together God’s Plan for Their Lives
One of the best parts of living on the farm is that God provides so many teachable moments. Our children learned to count to 12 from washing and packaging eggs.
In having animals to tend, we have found that there is virtually no need to talk about reproductive health as a class in school. Our children understand that births, deaths, and breeding are a part of life. There is no mystery in the physical aspect of our lives. It is truly a freedom to be able to solely focus on the spiritual and emotional responsibility of developing into a young adult. We are able to convey that as one created above the animals that God gave us the ability to restrain our natural desires until we find the spouse He has for us and are ready to begin a family.
Animals and crops need attention everyday. Consistency is a huge lesson learned from farm chores. The animals don’t care if it is someone’s birthday, Christmas, raining, or sunny. They still need to eat. Eggs still need gathering. Cows still need to be milked. Farming is day in and day out. What better way to develop good habits and make working diligently not just a fad, but a way of life.
Meet God where You Are At
We try to take advantage of the little moments to become some big teachable lessons of life. God has placed us on a farm for this season of our lives. In this, He has allowed us to disciple our children in waking up, lying down, chores in the morning, chores in the evening, school during the day, and fun and laughter spread throughout. Farming can be hard and it also can be very rewarding. I can’t think of a better symbol of life in general.
Capture each moment with your children wherever God has planted you for this season and make it the most you can in helping to mold and shape them into who God is calling them to be over the long haul. In closing, I must admit. Farm kids are great kids!!