Growing up on a farm can be a wonderful life. There’s so much to experience, lots of people coming and going and of course great views and lots of outdoor life. Especially in the summer, N is able to get outdoors after nursery and play in the garden without any effort from me, in the winter when it’s much gloomier it takes a lot more effort.
At my 6th form there were a few students in my year who were from farming families, so it was interesting to hear how their childhood differed from ours living in a village. They had no ice cream vans coming round, no Round Table Christmas floats coming round (although one does sometimes go along our road), having to have playdates organised as you didn’t just pop round next door to see your best friend.
The upsides have to beat the downsides. For me, I like to be able to walk in towns and cities looking at building, rather than across fields which all look the same after a while. A walk rather than a hike. I do miss being able to pop out for a walk to get some milk or stamps. We have to drive everywhere – the nearest shop and post office are only 5 minutes drive (town and a larger village are 7 miles away), but the roads obviously have no pavements, and huge hills that I’d never get up my bike on. Oh, and when we have snow, even though we’re not that much out in the sticks compared to some, we don’t have the roads gritted, and hills in every direction, so going out in the car isn’t fun.
But for children, it’s a great life.
N’s definitely an outdoor child, he would spend all day outside given half a chance (although does seem to moan at his nursery school when they go out!). As the OH works 7 days a week, the main time N can spend with his dad is during feeding time when he can go out on the tractor with him. Who wouldn’t idolise their dad if there was a tractor involved?
I think N’s also benefitted from the social aspect of farming. While the men do work all the time, there’s always people around on the farm. Family of course – we live 20 yards from the in laws so N gets to see his Grandparents more days a week than not. And his 6 cousins all live within 1.5 miles of us. His best friend is his just turned 6 year old cousin, they love running round the garden or being out on the farm with their parents or Gramps. But there’s auctioneers turning up, other farmers, neighbours, family friends and more turning up. It seems that anyone really who turns up ends up sitting round the farmhouse table, and if there’s biscuits involved then N will be sitting there too. It’s meant that he’s generally pretty sociable with any age of person once he’s got over the first 5 minutes of shyness.
I think N’s also quite responsible, and aware of his surroundings. He’s never once tried to escape outside the farm gate, even though he plays out while I’m in the house – our garden isn’t fully fenced in. We teach him where he can and can’t go, and he sticks to that, because he knows that there could be cars, farm vehicles or animals around.
And of course there’s the education side. While his dad might have no love for academic work, he’s very good at fixing things – farm vehicles, around the house, and just generally getting stuck in to fix things. Hopefully N will learn from him.
Then where does our food come from. N is getting an education about livestock and crops. To be honest he knows more about the farm machinery than I do (which can be a tad embarrassing if he corrects me) from being on the farm, and watching lots of Tractor Ted. Our latest discussion about food has been about what foxes eat, and why chickens have houses to go in at night.
N has various jobs he can go and help with on the farm. When there are young ducks or pheasants then he’ll go and watch his dad feed them. He’ll sit on the tractor while they’re feeding the cattle. And shepherding means he gets to rid out in the pick up or on the quad bike.
The other week, the OH popped his head round the door and told us they were moving cattle. So quick change, coats and wellies on, leapt into the Land Rover to head down the road to meet the cattle coming down from the field. I do enjoy helping move the animals; it’s the only job I really do on the farm. Pre-N I used to be the one walking at the front of the animals, but now I tend to be in a vehicle because I have n with me. Less fun, but we do get to have the flashing light on!
Our job was to go up front and stop the traffic wanting to come down the way the cattle would be coming up. Early on a Sunday morning we didn’t think there’d be much traffic about and up front, we only had to stop one car. But it seems that all the traffic was following the cattle. Luckily round our way, people who get stopped seem to mostly like seeing the cattle (or sheep) being moved along the road. I’m not sure the guys working on the road near us were that keen. We’d had to move their cones over a bit, and when I drove past telling them the cattle were on the way, they made a sharp exit into their vehicle. They’d have been much better standing in the gateway nearby to help stop the cattle trying to head that way!
The cattle were moved only a short distance this time, so it was all over pretty quickly.
After helping out, N does tend to tell everyone he sees after that that’s what he’d done. He does love being out and ‘doing jobs’. If he doesn’t want to come somewhere with me, he tells me that ‘I’ve got jobs to do and then I’m going with Daddy to buy a combine’. Hmm, not sure that’s ever going to happen.
So lots of upsides to growing up on a farm…and of course the views are amazing.