Growing up on a ranch, I knew that it was the way I wanted to raise my family. It helps to shape grow a person in so many. The opportunities for life lessons are never ending. And, I know I always say this, but the space is pretty amazing.
No it’s not the only good way to raise a family- there are so many good people that weren’t raised that way. But this is how I chose to raise my family. Here’s why…
1. Everyday we work- we have to. The cows need feeding, which most often requires us moving them to different pastures. Fences, building, and equipment need upkeep and they won’t fix themselves. Bummer… But my kids know how important work is. Already my kids are learning to help and work, to do the best we can and to finish a job we start. More importantly my kids learn to work because they get to go out to work with their dad. Every day they have the best example they need to see a man working.
2. All around us we see the circle of life. Every year there is new life that brings excitement and hope. But not all new life lasts. Death is a hard thing that we face. Cows, calves, horses, dogs… It’s hard, but it’s a part of life. We celebrate life and learn to move on after death.
3. I don’t know if there is a more natural way to talk about the birds and the bees than actually having first hand on the ranch. All sorts of question come up about why do we keep the bulls away from the cows, where do those babies come from, or what is that cow doing. Yes my kids see it happening and yes we talk about it. But that is because it is so easy on the ranch.
4. What better playground do they need than a big ol’ ranch?! There are fences to climb up, tires to go through, chickens to chase, calves to rope and dirt to dig. Really the list could go on and on… Because there is so much for kids to do on a ranch- no two days are the same and there are no dull days!
5. With so much around them, ranch kids learn to be creative. A stick isn’t just a stick! It can build a fence, it can be sword, a gun or a cane. When my little boy watches what’s happening out on the ranch he gets creative and recreates it with his own little equipment. I never would have thought marbles would be poop for the manure spreader! Instead of just building towers from blocks, we make stacks of bales! Imagination is always at work out here.
6. As kids grow on the ranch, they are given their own responsibilities. It my be feeding the family dog or collecting the eggs or even feeding their own 4h animals. But they know it is their job. Yes we will help, but it is their responsibility to make sure it is done. They are responsible for closing the gate when they go through, keeping gas in the 4wheeler and putting their tack away. With responsibility also comes accountability. And then consequences. Some are good- feeding up your steer makes for a food day at the fair. But not locking the gate means the cows get out. Responsibility, accountability, and consequences- all lessons learned on the ranch.
7. We would like to think that days on the ranch are always happy and cheery, but they’re not. Yes we have awesome days of success. There is that day when you catch your first calf and you feel like you could rope the moon! But then there are days when you get bucked of, lose a glove, and tear your favorite pair of jeans. Frustration and disappointment are just as much a part of ranch life. But with it we learn how to deal with it.
8. I love opportunities we have to work together as a family. We pull out the horses and go to the arena. We all gather to the garden to gather in our harvest. We all squeeze in the tractor to feed the cows. Family is important to me and I won’t let anything, not even the ranch work, get in the way. Instead, we just make ranch time family time!
9. Life on the ranch does so much to help with learning in school. Ranch kids learn everything from learning counting and colors to map reading and geography. There are science lessons as the crops grow with water and sun, and grow more with a little fertilizer. The learning never stops- math, science, geography, history, reading… do it all, daily!
10. My kids have learned where their food comes from and the cost for it. We don’t grow everything we eat (so thankful for grocery stores!) but my ranch kids know that milk comes from a cow, not made in the back of the store. And more importantly they know the cost of their food. Not necessarily in money, but certainly in the time and effort it takes to have.
Yep, the ranch is the place for me to raise my kids. A place to learn, live, and love while every day is an adventure. Especially when it is the day you need to teach the 12 year old how to drive the stick shift feed truck…