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Wanda Smith writes about growing up on the farm and responsibilities
On the Front Porch by Wanda Smith

In my growing up years, Dad was a bit of a hobby farmer and enjoyed picking up odd creatures at the local auction market. We had a myriad of fowl such as guinea hens, English trumpeter pigeons, ducks, geese, and several unique chicken breeds. Included in “Old MacDonald’s Farm” were a few goats, including a ram that didn’t stick around long due to his rank smell and obstinate behavior. Nanny was our longest standing tenant. She became a pet, enjoying our company when we’d bring her fresh water or tether her on a new patch of grass, birthing one set of kids (thanks to the ram’s short-lived stay) which provided opportunity to learn to milk her and enjoy the milk she produced.  

I’m convinced that some of the animals that Dad brought to our farm were otherwise known as “make-work-projects” for Sis and me; although I don’t disagree at all with the thought behind that idea. I learned to ensure that the animals were well-cared for whether I felt like it or not. Their needs came first. This developed a strong work ethic for me, as well as perseverance and learning to take responsibility.

Hubby and I agree that it is valuable to raise our girls in the country, despite the sacrifices we’ve had to make (understanding that many are unable to do so and we definitely respect and understand that). Although we’ve downsized from a small ranch to a fairly large acreage, we still encourage our girls by providing the means for them to have animals around. The make-work-projects have been effective to teach our girls the value of hard work and they’ve seen the results that come from caring for livestock and other animals.  

In her early teens, Big Sweet Pea was responsible for feeding the horses throughout the winter months, learning to start and maneuver our “vintage” snow machine while pulling a sled loaded with square bales. She persevered through the cold, wind and blizzard-like conditions over the years to care for the family’s horses. She also carried this on with her flock of chickens she lovingly grew and nurtured; I’m convinced they were the happiest chickens in the country. Lil Sweet Pea is now taking over the reins of responsibility as her big sister leaves home to pursue further education.

As we seek to navigate through this daunting challenge of raising children, Hubby and I often feel like we are swimming upstream against a society that has groomed children to become entitled; handed whatever they demand and catering to their every desire. The pendulum has definitely swung and it is so easy to be caught up in the flow of it instead of taking a step back to see where we are headed. I know there are some things we would change if we could rewind a few years but, since we can’t, we move forward with more determination than ever to make the best informed decisions possible to go against the grain of the status quo.

There are several ways we can “turn the ship” and begin to incorporate lifelong lessons that will give our children the tools they need to become men and women of good character and strong work ethic. It is never too late to make adjustments. James 3:4 encourages us in this saying, “...a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong.” Take the time to observe what direction your children (grandchildren) are headed.

Next week, I’ll share some tips on how to navigate the cultural sea of parenting.

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