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Copyright 2012 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor;


Lessons Learned by a Farm Kid

By Maggie Howard-Weigel, Sussex , Wisconsin


October 2012 issue  


     I am a farm snob.

     I actually hate to admit this because I pride myself on never really thinking I am better than anyone or anything elseI am the youngest in my family. I am never right.

     But I am a farmer’s daughter, and I am quite proud of all the things that go with our vanishing brotherhood.

      Case in point: Last winter, when everyone here in Wisconsin was thrilled with our lack of snow, I was the voice of doom, saying, “It’s not good to not get any snow all winter; in fact, it’s really, really bad.” All my uncountrified friends were like, “What is your problem? You like shoveling snow?”

      Not especially—but a snowless winter, in fact, precedes a drought. Any farmer’s daughter knows that drought is bad, and it has been bad here in Wisconsin this summer, really bad. Going to the feed store and the local Piggly Wiggly is going to be more and more painful, and I find no satisfaction in being right. I just know the harbinger of a drought when I see one. City folks just see less snow to shovel.

      These are things a lot of our kids are not learning because there are fewer and fewer farms. I feel sad for today’s kids, I really do. There are memories of growing up on a farm that I would not give up for anything, knowledge that cannot be learned anywhere but on your father’s knee, riding across a newly- plowed field on his favorite tractor (a Minneapolis Moline). I knew how Baby Everything came to be before I had any idea that there were words for it. It just was. Sex education was not a class in school, it was the circle of life. Nothing politically correct, just the facts. Pretty simple, really; when you get right down to it, there aren’t even a lot of parts….

      I knew that there were pet animals, work animals and feeder animals. Of the three, the feeder animals always had the cleanest pens, the best food, and the most respect. It was just the way it was.

      Every fall they would leave and be replaced by new feeder animals which would again get the best of everything. If we were silly enough to give them names and become attached, well, that was our problem, not my father’s.

      We knew the routine. Some might see this as harsh; my parents saw that the health and well-being of our family always came before one of us becoming attached to a feeder calf. It’s not that my father did not have a heart; he did; he just loved us best.

      So while I admit that I learned a lot of stuff during my farm upbringing that others might consider useless, I also think that much of this “stuff” still helps me in my everyday life.

      For example, if you drive too fast while spreading manure, it will hit you in the back of the head. (This was a stunt I only did once, and I slowed down.)

      I know that if you leave a hay fork with the tines up, a person or a beast will sure-as-shoot come along and step on it. (I never did it again.)

      If you do not clean up things thoroughly in the summer, you will attract flies, which will then lead to maggots. (Because I hate maggots with all my being, I clean.)

      If you do not check the cinch on your horse a couple of times to make sure that it is snug and that your horse has let out excess air, you will look like a fool in front of your friends and be butt-over-head in no time flat. (To this day I check at least three times.)

      Oh, and the most important lesson ever: if you do not fasten the latch on the gate, cage, stall, hutch, coop, etc., you will have loose critters that are most likely not smart enough to be loose.

      They will cause havoc, breed, or run out into the road, your parents will be very, very disappointed in your actions. (There was nothing—and I mean nothing— that made my father more irritable than chasing one of our dang horses through hill and dale at 2:00 a.m.; since my father was a sane person, we tried not to let this happen more than once in awhile!)

      So while I do not think I am better at anything than anyone else, I feel kind of bad for those who do not know the joys of growing up with a farm and fields in their back yards.

      There are smells and tastes that can still take me back to being ten years old and sitting on my grandpa’s lap shelling peas, shucking corn, snapping beans… you know, the good stuff in life.

      I also understand that everyone has wonderful memories of growing up. But I will still think that my childhood was the best.

      I sit at our wonderful state fair and watch kids poke fingers into cages and then scream if they get bit. I feel bad for them because they have no idea that such actions have consequences which are never the animal’s fault.

      I see kids turn up their noses as they walk through the dairy barn, eating ice cream. (Oh, the irony!)

      I see mothers parking strollers right behind the draft horses’ hind feet while sipping beer and talking to a friend. (I actually had one of these women tell me that no one would be stupid enough to bring a high-strung horse to a state fair.)

      I feel sorry for them and their children. How will they ever know the joy of bonding with an animal if they never learn to respect them? They won’t and they can’t.

      So yes, I am a farm snob. I was raised by people who used common-sense, real-life lessons taught on the farm to shape their children. I truly did not think there was anything special about that, but I was wrong.

      And not only does that make me feel very, very old, but it also makes me feel quite lucky.

      Oh, and lack of snow is called a drought.

      Really, it is….



Copyright 2012 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor;


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