Our youngest grandson came for his first big boy (no parents) visit recently. We spent plenty of time at the park on Sonoma’s square, but he spent most of his time roaming our little “farm.” Seeing him wandering our property made me think about why we enjoy sharing these experiences with the kids in our life.
Neither of us grew up on farms, but we spent plenty of time on them.
Patrick spent weeks every summer on his grandparents’ cattle ranches in Missouri and California throughout his childhood. His Grandpa Smith bought day-old Holstein bull calves every day for his feed lot business. One summer, Grandpa Smith put Patrick in charge. Seeing an opportunity to take advantage of a young 14 year-old’s naiveté, the calf-sellers tried to sell Patrick the least desirable stock. Patrick refused to buy animals he didn’t want. Perturbed that they had to submit to a young kid’s criteria, the calf-sellers took it up with Grandpa Smith, who shot back that he had put Patrick in charge, and his grandson’s decisions were final. For a young boy to be trusted with that level of responsibility, and to be given that sort of support by an older, wiser man he admired and adored so much was a lifelong lesson.
My Mom grew up on a series of farms around London, Ohio that her family worked and lived on. Her Dad bought his own farm when my Mom was in her teens, which he eventually lost. My Mom’s family had a hard life and they grew up with next to nothing, but her happy memories of those times include the thrill of riding their plow horses bareback alongside the railroad tracks, waving at the conductor as the trains whisked by.
I got my first horse as a freshman in high school and worked at the barn to pay off my board. I also worked at Blaney Farms, a giant seed corn company outside of Madison, detasseling corn every summer to make extra money. I postponed college for a few years while I worked at stables in Iowa and Minnesota. A typical day included turning the horses out, cleaning and bedding stalls, spreading manure, feeding, riding four to six horses, bringing the horses in, cleaning the barn, and polishing tack. It was hard work, but those years were among the most formative experiences I’ve ever had. (The photo below is of me in the cab of the tractor pulling the manure spreader. That funky makeshift “cab” over the tractor offered lifesaving protection from the Minnesota winter wind and pelting spring rain. And, while it looks like it was taken sometime before the Civil War, this photo was in the Spring of 1977 in Hugo, Minnesota.)
So, we like giving the kids in our life a taste of a life we grew up with and loved. I follow a Sonoma blog OfWomenandWine and I found a post that mentioned that the nearby Studdert Family Farm was boasting lots of new lambs, so we loaded up our grandson, and headed over for a visit.
The owner, Cindy, was so patient and helpful during our tour, and we learned she also provides fun programs for young children. We definitely plan to take our niece and our older grandkids back to see the lambs later this summer.
While our little guy wasn’t crazy about his initial experience with the lambs, he did love his time on “the farm.” We hope we are giving a gift he will always remember.
What part of your roots are you trying to pass on to the young ones in your life?