When my brother, sister and I where kids we worked on the farm. When a parent talks about all that character building stuff kids need to go through our parents took it to heart. At that time Keewaydin was a happening sixty cow dairy. My father was big into genetics and took great pride in developing the character of his herd (kids included). Our job was to get the barn ready for milking, bring the cows in from pasture in the summer, feed the calves and as we got older do some of the milking. Getting the barn ready included shoveling a fair amount of manure, liming, portioning out each cow’s food rations and bedding each stall in the winter. After the barn was ready and cows collected from pasture you would open the gate and sixty cows would stream into the barn, most on their own, some gently prodded and newbies always last until they got with the program. The program included each cow in her designated spot and though at the time I didn’t give it one thought, it was quite an amazing event. Each cow new right where to go and 95 percent of the time got it right. Some of the old girls had been in the same station their entire milking life which could be as long as 10 years. They knew exactly where they were supposed to be and look out to anyone or thing that got in there way.
As much as we grumble or complain as kids when we are doing that character building stuff though I think it really does work. I don’t know how many times I have gotten myself into situations that at the moment seemed tough but when put into the context of dairy farming are super simple. There is something about shoveling manure that makes all other things in life a bit of a cake walk. That is the whole point of character building, endure a bit of struggle, get dirty, sweet, make mistakes, and plow on though. If nothing else you have a few stories to share, “You think you had it rough, I shoveled poop as a kid. Why back in my day………..”. Try one upping that character building start to a story. Of course it’s all in context, my children have be putting in time on the farm, helping pack CSA shares and light garden duties and when they want to argue a point or let me know how hard they have it they go right to all the work they have to do. Ah the circle of life, I’m sure I never complained or moaned about my chores……yeah right. But look at me now farming away my life. Why? Because farming is what built this character!