The Value of Farmwork

Like most parents, I want my sons to be successful adults - to know the value of hard work and appreciate a job well done.  For me, those lessons came early.  I started mowing lawns at the age of 8 or 9, and regular summer jobs hoeing and spraying cotton weeds started about the age of 12 as did the annual raising of farm animals for 4-H and FFA competitions. These jobs weren't necessarily my choice, as my dad play a key role in making sure these "opportunities" presented themselves every year, but they nonetheless had a important impact on my outlook on life.  If anything, it gave me some motivation to do well in college!   

I'd like my 10 and 13 year old sons to have some similar "opportunities", and it appears Ben Sasse, a U.S. senator from Nebraska, wanted the same for his teenage daughter.  According to this article in the Wall Street Journal he's been tweeting out “lessons from the ranch”, which he received as text messages from his daughter who went to work for a month on a cattle ranch. 

Topics like animal welfare, and experiences of life and death, take on a new meaning when you've got first-hand involvement.  Here's one message from the daughter:

Had a stillbirth last night. Sad—but I can hand off my bottle-heifer. We paired the newly babyless mama with my orphan.

Most of us try to shield our kids from this kind of heartbreak but perhaps its just the sort of thing they sometimes need.  

Speaking of the stark reality of cattle-raising, I can vividly remember the first time I saw the following (and decided I would definitely not be a vet):

Today we checked to confirm some cows were pregnant—which Megan did by jamming her hand up their rectum. Eww.

Here's the article's author:

There’s also something to be said for knowing where your groceries come from. It’s hard not to notice that the less contact Americans have with farmers, the more afraid they become of food—GMOs and gluten and whatnot.