Friday, May 13, 2011

Teenage ag students make excellent help on the farm

If there is one thing I've learned in middle age, it is that I don't move like I used to.  Now, I am not saying I've completed my "bucket list" and am on my way out.  I am far from it (hopefully).  However, when it comes to farm work, weekends are brutal.  But Monday's....well, they are the worst! 

You see, my husband and I work full-time, agricultural-related jobs off of the farm and we stay very busy with agricultural organizations.  During the week it is hard to do major farm tasks because in most cases we are too mentally exhausted at the end of the day to even think about picking up a hammer or chainsaw at 7 p.m.  Plus, daytime hours have diminished by the time we stroll in.  I have an hour commute to and from my job, and this doesn't help much either.   

Daddyman (my husband) and my daughter usually hold down the fort during the week.  A typical weekday involves feeding animals, making supper, watching a bit of t.v. and going to bed!  And when the next day rolls around, we do it all over again.  Honestly, sometimes the schedule can be a total drag.

Saturday means "go" on the farm
When Saturday rolls around, there is no down time at our house.  We are up and at it early to get things done on the farm.  First, there are things to go pick up like feed, farm supplies, groceries and dry cleaning.  Then there is the mowing, which requires the use of two riding lawn mowers going at the same time.  After two hours of mowing, there is weed-eating, followed by fixing things -- and I mean anything you can imagine!  This could include fixing a piece of equipment, removing old trees around fence lines or repairing holes in the barn.  It NEVER ends!  Why does it seem you can never get ahead on a farm?

We go so hard on a Saturday, it is pretty much a regimen for us to pop a couple of ibuprofen before we go to bed in the evening in anticipation of the next day's pain.  Sunday includes church in the morning, and then house chores in the afternoon that didn't get done on Saturday because of farm work.  It can be a busy cycle...and one that wears you slam out!

Monday is the worst.  It seems like the pains from physical farm activity on Saturday skips a day and hits us on Monday.  When you've gone at it all weekend with no down time and then Monday comes back around...oh is tough.   

Young farm hands
The one thing that has helped our family both mentally and physically is hiring good young help.  However, we have been fortunate for many years to get some excellent help from a retired extension agent friend.  But ever since my daughter started high school two years ago and joined FFA, we have made several connections with area country kids that know how to work -- and I mean work without us even telling them to!  Now, no offense to the urban boys and girls out there, but there is nothing like country kids for working on the farm.  They know how to get it done and they require little direction.  Plus they love working on the farm!  There is something about the work ethic of country boys and girls that makes us adults smile from ear to ear.   

Last weekend my daughter and two of her ag buddies went to work on her show cattle pen, which needed some serious spring cleaning.  They did an awesome job and they didn't require any direction.  Now, I ask you, would I have gotten the same work ethic out of a non-ag girl or fellow?  Maybe.  But would they have griped the whole time about how the pen had a smell to it or that they got manure on themselves?  Maybe or maybe not.  We don't take that chance.  The country kids get first dibs on the jobs every time.  We don't have time or patience for whining.

To show our appreciation for hard work,  we always treat help to lunch at the local hamburger dive.  It gives them a chance to socialize and get energized for the second half of the day.  I try to throw in a treat in the afternoon, too.  And, of course, they get paid for their hard work.

Country Kids vs. City Kids
Don't get me wrong.  I know of many hard working, terrific non-ag kids, but when it comes to farm work, I can almost bet every time (from experience) that non-ag kids will be the first to ask if you if they are done with a project even when they are far from it.  You just have to sit back and chuckle at em' and hope that your effort to get them to appreciate the value of hard work will pay off with them later in life.

Photo courtesy of Proyecto Asis.
This reminds me of the time when a girl in my dorm in college was telling me she wanted to be a veterinarian.  She was a pre-vet student from a northeastern U.S. city.  She always dressed to the max and had those long pretty fingernails.  She wanted to be a small animal veterinarian because she loved pets.  I said to her one day, "You know that you are going to also have to get some large animal experience as part of vet school training even though you don't want to be a large animal vet, right?"  She looked at me in horror.  I went on to say, "Oh, you will love it, because you will get to do cool stuff like preg check cattle and everything...but you'll have to trim those pretty fingernails."  She looked at me and said, "Why?"  I said, "Because I don't think a mama cow will appreciate you scratching their hiney with them!  Besides, your fingernails will bust through the extra-long OB gloves." 

With a bewildered look, she went on to ask me more questions about raising farm animals.  Halfway through the discussion I replied, "Are you sure you are ready to be a vet?"  She said, "Not after what you've told me."  I said, "Did you not think poop, blood and afterbirth were not going to part of your veterinarian profession?"  She finally fessed up and said, "I have no idea what I am getting myself into."

As we finished our conversation and after witnessing her green facial expression, I told her that she might want to consider another profession.  She piped up and said that she loved fashion, which was very obvious by her obsession to look her best every day.   

Later in the quarter, she dropped by my dorm room to say hello and said, "Hey Jules, I decided to change my major to Fashion Merchandising!"

I just smiled and said, "I think that is a wise decision!"  And it was.  She would have been miserable as a vet student, but she makes one heck of a clothes buyer for a major department store!



No comments:

Post a Comment