Christmas on the Farm: A Different Kind of Normal

It’s Christmas time. Family, food, gifts parties are all elements of the holiday season that millions of people enjoy. The anticipation of waking up on Christmas morning and seeing what “Santa” brought you is something you look forward to. We wake up out of our warm beds and run to the tree to see what gifts await and then start opening them. Paper flies, cameras flash and shrieks of excitement fill the room. It’s a pretty picture right? DSC07922

You are probably wondering where I am going with this. Why am I writing about a pretty normal Christmas morning? Well the reason is because I never had a “normal” Christmas morning. Wait, what? You read this right. I never had a normal Christmas morning. I had what I consider a different kind of normal morning.

Courtesy of Farming Memes located on Facebook

Courtesy of Farming Memes located on Facebook

Now you are probably really wondering what I am insinuating by making a statement of this nature. The truth is, on Christmas morning, my family and I worked before we opened presents. Yes, we worked and I never, ever complained.

You see, I was raised by a farming family. (Yes, I was one of the lucky ones who can say this!) We had a dairy farm and just because it was Christmas morning, never meant we could put the farm on the back burner. We often hear farmers say, “On Christmas morning, we did not open gifts until the animals were cared for.” To fully grasp the concept of what this statement means, I wanted to emphasize it to show just how important this is.

No matter the day, our animals have to be cared for. They are our upmost priority, even on Christmas

No matter the day, our animals have to be cared for. They are our upmost priority, even on Christmas

Here is how a typical Christmas morning was for me, and for many of you who are reading this. Alarm goes off before the sun comes up and the alifamily gets up and heads out the door. Cows are ready to be milked and fed and the calves are bawling for their morning meals. Dad heads to the barn while mom tends to the calves. Three little blonde haired girls tag along helping as much as they can and hurry to the house to wait for their parents to arrive so they can open their treasures. If they are lucky, they can open gifts before 10 A.M…

This may sound cruel to some or it may not even make sense. How dare these parents make their kids wait to open their gifts on one of the most exciting mornings of the year?!?!

Whether you are/were a farming kid, farming teen or a farming adult, Christmas morning began as just another day on the farm. cherry bomb

In all honesty, I am so glad I learned to wait to open my gifts on Christmas morning and I am sure glad my parents made me wait. There are so many lessons this taught me and so many other farmers out there, such as-

Responsibility: Just because it was a holiday, did not mean that we could shut the farm down like it was a typical business. 10479189_10203831985182098_3634652475703811621_nHolidays are just another day on the farm. We could just not tell our livestock that they had to fend for themselves because it was our vacation or an important date on the calendar. Christmas was no different. Even though there were gifts under the tree and family dinners to go to, we had to take care of our animals. We had to be responsible. We had to be the caregivers we were designed to be.

Patience- One of the most difficult things in life to learn is patience. As a kid waiting to open presents on Christmas morning was a difficult task; however the overall lesson learned is irreplaceable. My sisters and I learned that we just had to wait patiently and not complain. My parents had to exercise patience in knowing they had three anxious girls in the house waiting to open their gifts, but having to get their chores done outside first. Overall, patience was learned which is a truly valuable life skill.

Sometimes, learning patience was hard...

Sometimes, learning patience was hard…But looking back, is was worth the lesson!

Priorities- As farmers know, your farm is one of your top priorities. It was your livelihood and your passion; therefore it came SAE Project---Dairy Placement Photo Courtesy of- Dakoda Baxter, son of Jason and Becky Baxter, Billings FFA Chapter- Missouri first. My family’s farm was no different. It was a priority to care for our animals in the best manner possible. Like I have mentioned before in this post, Christmas morning was no different. We fed and cared for the animals before our gifts were opened. If that is not dedication, I do not know what is!

Family- It was a general rule that gifts were not opened until our entire family was back in the house. Granted this is the case for a lot of families, but we stuck true to this rule no matter what. If one of my parents had to stay outside longer to tend to a sick animal or fix fence, we waited. It was a full family effort to run the farm; therefore it was going to be a full family affair when we opened our gifts. Family is so important and embracing the entire family moment on Christmas morning truly nailed this point home.

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Dedication- You know, farming takes a lot of dedication and passion. You truly have to love what you do in order to deal with events such as a delay in opening gifts on Christmas morning. I think it says so much about farmers who can stand and say they tend to their farm first before gifts are opened. What this taught me growing up, that in order to be successful you have to be dedicated to your purpose. In my family’s case, our purpose was ensuring our animals were well taken care of in order to have a successful and prosperous farming operation. Farm 078

As you can see, Christmas morning in a farming family is not like a lot of families’ Christmases. However, I consider it a different kind of normal. More like a farming kind of normal. I knew no different growing up and looking back, I cannot complain one bit. I am honored to say that my Christmas mornings consisted of farming and caring for my animals first and opening my presents second. I am honored to have had parents to show me how the farm takes priority and how important being dedicated is. Learning these lessons is just further proof of how much of a blessing being raised on a farm was for me. 168298_1795752055615_1580732_n

With Christmas being just hours away, I just wanted to write this post as a way to show the world just how much farmers care for their livestock and just how unique the farming lifestyle is. In addition, I wanted to provide all you farmers out there a chance to take a trip down memory lane to your own farm Christmases. Plus, I wanted to remind all of you just how great you are for caring for your animals each and every day, no matter what holiday it is.

What are some of your fondest Christmas morning memories? What were your experiences? How were your Christmas mornings on the farm?

I want to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas. Farmers, thank you for your dedication. For you farm kids, as tough as it may be to wait to open your gifts, remember you are some of the few who can proudly say you waited to open your gifts because your parents farmed. Trust me, you will be so thankful for this. I know I am. 10815773_10205044243247792_1855737899_n

Until next time…

God Bless You All and Merry Christmas!

~Ali

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Living the Farm Life: 20 Life Lessons the Farm Instills

Having the opportunity to have been born and raised on a farm is truly a blessing. Growing up on a farm has taught me so many values and life lessons which have molded me into the person I am today. The truth is, those who have had the opportunity to have been raised on a farm or currently reside on one, understand this concept fully. There is absolutely no doubt, we are lucky. Why? What makes growing up and/or living on a farm so great?

Well, the answer is not as complex as one may think. In fact, the answer is quite simple. The honest truth is there is no other lifestyle like it. There is no other lifestyle where one can learn and be responsible for so much, while fulfilling the role of feeding the world. Pretty remarkable, huh?  2014100495174705

Previously, I have created a post about the truths of growing up a farm kid and how the entire experience is so unique. Now, I want to take it to the next level. Now I am striving to show the world just how amazing living the farming experience is.

So what does farming teach a person? Read these twenty life lessons to find out…

1) Nothing compares to the value of hard work and a strong work ethic. This is something that will never leave you. Hard work is required on a farm. If you are not willing to work, your farm will not survive; therefore you learn at a very young age just how important hard work is and how far it will take you.  DSC00364
2) Nothing comes easy. For all who have stepped foot on a farm can attest to the fact that farming is a tough lifestyle. There is really nothing easy about it. It is a 24/7 job, which a concept not a lot of people can wrap their heads around. You then learn that in order to accomplish something great, you must be willing to take a path that is far from easy. You cannot ever take the easy way out. 168298_1795752055615_1580732_n
3) You will do whatever it takes to keep your family’s tradition alive. Think about it. 98 percent of farms today are family owned. Many farms have been passed down from generation to generation. You learn the importance of your family’s tradition and then will find the desire to uphold that tradition. Your family is one of the most important things in your life, so you will do whatever it takes to protect the heritage. 2011 024
4) Responsibility. Farming teaches you this imporant quality. As a farmer, you are responsible for so many entities; therefore, you must develop responsibility to ensure the needs of your farm are met. You then learn that responsibility is important in everything you do.


5) Priorities. Your farm comes first. If you have a sick animal, you stay with them so that you will save their life. You have hay down and a storm comes. You drop everything to get that hay in. Sometimes, this means you must miss out on normal life events – parties, family get-togethers, etc. You do whatever it takes in order to keep your farm successful. You learn to prioritize. 2008 is Great 032
6) Importance of faith in farming. Farming is hard, there is no question about it. In order to continue, you have to have faith. You learn that faith is the basis of every endeavor you face. 4
7) Fully appreciating God’s works. Living on a farm provides you the opportunities to witness several of God’s works. Sunrises, sunsets, births of newborn animals, watching a mother caring for her young, watching your kids grow and prosper on the land you have worked so hard on, watching your crops grow… God works every day and you are lucky enough to witness it. new baby
8) Essence of listening. Farming requires listening. You listen to your heart to know what steps to take. You listen to your gut when making decisions. You listen to your animals to know what it is they need. The truth is, you become a person who can listen which is very hard to come by. Farm 078
9) Working for future generations. You are the one not only responsible for feeding the world for years to come. You are also the one responsible for doing what it takes to get your children to follow in your footsteps. You are working for them. 20140829_165445
10) Concept of achieving a goal. You set goals – when you want your hay cut, when you want to get your planting done, how many calves you want to send to the sale barn, and the list goes on. In order to meet your goals, you must have a plan in place and the willpower to follow that plan. You have determination to achieve the goal and the rest is history. 7
11) Problem solving and critical thinking. Each day, you are faced with a challenge. You have to learn how incorporate critical thinking in order to solve problems in the most efficient way possible. ice 07 025
12) Care and compassion. You have to have this in order to be a successful farmer. Farming takes someone who is caring and compassionate. There is just no other way of putting it.  6
13) Being a caretaker – family, land and livestock. You are the one responsible for caring for your family, your land and your livestock. You play a huge role in so many different ways, which makes the farming lifestyle that much more exceptional. 975738_10201201608424323_1289800375_n
14) Understanding the value of a dollar. You become conscious of what it takes to have strong monetary skills. In addition, you quickly learn that life is not all about money. You learn that there is no monetary value on happiness; therefore proving you are not farming to just make money. You farm because you love it, which teaches a valuable lesson regarding everyday life. Not everything is about money… 1016244_10201392292111296_1643819930_n
15) Never giving up. Persistence is key in the life of a farmer. No matter how high feed prices get, how much fuel costs or how low the market prices get, you have to push through. This persistence shows through in every task you face. doc
16) Being humble in good times and strong during the bad. As with anything else, there are going to be good times and bad. With farming, it is so important to stay humble when things are good because in a blink of an eye, things can turn south. More importantly, you learn that you must stay strong during the bad times. The way you handle bad times encompasses how you will get through. It will make you stronger to endure more challenges for years to come. starbright
17) Knowledge and wisdom. The amount you learn – from basic remedies to solve everyday problems on the farm, to medicines for your animals, etc., each day provides more learning experiences that makes you that much better. Cranberry 045
18) Respect – elders, land, animals, etc. You respect those who have farmed before you. You respect the livestock and land that allows you to provide for your family. This is something that will never leave you. photo 2
19) Importance of agriculture. You quickly learn your importance. YOU are the one responsible for putting food on tables all over the world. Without agriculture, we would not survive and you completely understand this. 12973_10201593605023993_1495218490_n
20) Knowing the character being a farmer instills into you is something you will never be able to replace. With fewer and fewer people being directly involved in production agriculture, you understand your worth. You understand you are a rarity. The pride you have for your lifestyle inspires you to work hard to be the best person you can possibly be.  5342_201789796644687_27104960_n

 

As you can see, growing up on a farm reaps benefits that follows you throughout your life. It is something you learn to be proud of and you are sure to thank God every day for the opportunity you had or have to be a farmer. Unfortunately, not a lot of people get to experience this. Not many people “get it.” However, for the few of us that are left, it is up to us to protect the farming lifestyle. It is up to us to protect our heritage and ensure families have food on their tables for years to come.

We truly are special people. We truly are a gift. As farmers, we have a purpose. As farmers, we have values in which cannot be replaced. 11

Are you proud to have grown up on a farm? Are you proud to still live on one? I hope this has served as a reminder just how incredible, yet tough, the farm life is. If you are proud to be a farmer, I encourage you to share this post. Show everyone you know just how amazing farming is.

Remember just how special the farming life is and as always, be sure to thank a farmer.

Until next time…

~Ali

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P.S. – Have a safe and Happy Halloween!!!!

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