One of my favorite things about homesteading life is doing the farm work with my kids. Yep, it takes longer and it’s more a hassle than a help some times, but honestly I don’t mind. I love seeing my kids take part in the farm work and I’m so grateful that they get to claim a share of the responsibility of this lifestyle. They also reap the rewards right along side me.
My kids often come out to help me do the daily chores, like feeding, watering and milking, collecting eggs and harvesting the garden. It’s become such a part of our daily rhythm that it actually doesn’t even feel like work anymore, just a part of our day.
I do think it’s important that children learn to work hard, but I also know I want them to see me working hard. One of the greatest lessons they will learn about work will the the example that I set for them.
However hard they work, I want them to know that I am right there with them, taking the heavy side, the longest rows, the fullest buckets, the prickliest weeds. I want the to see first hand what it means to work heartily, as unto the Lord.
The patterns of our life closely follow the seasons and cycles of this little homestead, and every year they take part in the work of planning, planting, growing, harvesting and storing of our crops. What a delight it has been to see them growing up understanding the importance of every step of this cycle. Weather it’s growing food, a family, a business or a faith, I want them to know that each step takes hard work, perseverance and humility.
I rather consider this childhood I have with them as their apprenticeship for life. I don’t know if any of them will want to be a farmer like me, but I do want them to learn to establish patterns, to set goals, to do their best, and to push themselves in their work. I want them to know what it feels like to take pleasure in the daily tasks, and what it looks like to turn dreams into plans, and plans into actions, and actions into results. What better way to learn this than on the farm?
There are of course the more unpleasant jobs on the farm. Not every moment is bottle feeding a baby goat or pulling giant carrots (so fun!). There’s the manure and the compost and the weeds and the fence mending. There’s always more work to be done, and I want my children to know how to just get up and get it done! I want the to know that when we see something that needs doing, it’s up to us to make it happen.
As they have such an investment in our homestead, the are also able to feel the injustice when bad things happen. When our potato harvest is ravage by voles, they feel it because the were the ones who spent so many hours planting those spuds! When weeds threaten our garden, we pull them out with a righteous vengeance!
Even when I am doing a job on the homestead that is to difficult of our kids to be a part of, I do want them to be as engaged as they can. They are usually not far off, ready to fetch a tool to tape measure, to open a gate or run and grab something we forgot. This kind of willingness to be helpful is something I treasure in my children. It often wastes time for me to let them do these little things, I’d rather lose a few minutes of efficiency than snuff their eagerness to help.
One last little thing I love about doing farm work with my children is the possibility of discovering something wonderful. Coming out to the barn to find a ewe giving birth is just about the most exciting thing ever! Pulling and eating the first radish of the season is a notable victory! And somehow, collecting warm egg right from under then hen seems miraculous every single day. There is just always something worthy taking place on the farm, and what a joy it is to discover them together with my own little people.