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Why I ensure my kids know there’s more to life than farm chores

Krista Stauffer for Progressive Dairyman Published on 23 August 2017
kids doing farm chores

I sat down the other day to write down all the upcoming appointments, church activities and sports for the kids. As I continued filling in the space for the next couple of months, I found myself feeling a little overwhelmed. How in the world am I going to do all this with a newborn baby? I caught myself wondering why in the world would I sign up for this many things.

It’s simple, really. We have three growing kids with many different interests. As I write this, we are getting ready for the local fair and all three kids are in soccer this year. Our daughter is in Irish dance, and the two oldest are starting piano lessons next month. Of course we cannot forget Awana, where they will spend every Wednesday night this entire school year learning God’s word with other kids their age.

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We are so fortunate to live the life that we do on the farm. Our kids are learning so many valuable lessons. Like the time our daughter learned how to count by twos in the milking parlor with the towels we use to wipe cows. And they will never forget the awesome dance moves they continue to learn in the milking parlor. I love the bond we are creating by having them by our side, and the work ethic they already have could already put many adults to shame.

girl with award

But you know what? They are just kids. They didn’t pick this life; we picked it for them. My husband can go to the barn seven days a week and work from sunup to sundown and he will still have work to do. If he is not careful, the farm will take absolutely everything he has. It will take a man whose only dream was to ever be a dairy farmer and make him question why. If it can do that to a grown man as passionate as him, what can it do our children? We want them to come back to the farm, but will they come back if we completely burn them out before they are adults?

It’s really simple folks: There is more to life than farming. I say this as someone who has had the privilege of growing up off the farm and had an amazing childhood, and I think I turned out all right. I want our children to have the best of both worlds. A life where they get to learn about taking care of the animals and the land, but a life that doesn't end at the end of our 40-acre property line. I want them to learn new things, meet new people, explore new places and decide for themselves which path they will take as adults.

As parents, we are faced with the task of finding a balance. A balance that will allow them to develop the knowledge and work ethic to take over this farm as young adults if they choose to do so, but also have enough off-the-farm experiences to never feel like Mom and Dad kept them from the rest of the world. This parenting thing is a tough business, but adding in the fact that you live where you work and work where you live adds a little more complication to the mix.

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boy with calf

So as their parents, we have made the decision to allow them to try new things and follow their different passions as they grow up. Sometimes those “passions” only last a season, and there are many times when Dad might not be able to join us, but it is very important to us that we equip them with the tools and experiences they need to determine who they are and what they want to be when they grow up.

Don’t be afraid to allow your children to try something new. I never in my life imagined I would have a daughter who got up early to feed calves before Irish dance or a son who did his chores before going to play his heart out in soccer. It’s possible for them to have the best of both worlds, even if this momma needs a little extra caffeine to get her through the day.  end mark

Krista Stauffer
  • Krista Stauffer

  • Dairy Producer
  • Washington
  • Email Krista Stauffer

PHOTO 1: Krista Stauffer wants her children to learn the importance of caring for animals and the land but also to know that their world doesn’t end at the property line.

PHOTO 2: Krista Stauffer’s daughter enjoys getting off the farm to participate in Irish dance classes and competitions.

PHOTO 3: Krista Stauffer’s son makes sure he does his calf chores before heading out to soccer practice. Photos provided by Krista Stauffer.

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