I love fair season. When I was in school, I remember being jealous of my classmates who got to leave early to take their 4H livestock to the county fair. I wanted to BE one of those kids. Unfortunately, I grew up in the suburbs and my parents weren’t about to let me have a pony.
As autumn approaches, there are at least four sizable county fairs held within driving distance. We try to make it to at least one each year to enjoy the food, games and sightseeing.
Mike and Ben much prefer the midway and the rides, but you’ll find me in the barns with the livestock. I’ve been that way since I was a kid. Even if all the cows and pigs start to look the same after a while, I still like to “meet” them all. This year, I was so excited for Myles to see the animals too! Lucky for me, he seems to take after his mama, being just as enamored with all the critters.
I’ve talked about having a hobby farm for years. I have stacks of books on the topic and love reading about farming and homesteading. I’ve just never lived somewhere that I could make it work. I plant a few tomatoes or peas from time to time, but it never felt like much.
Seeing Myles’ face when he saw horses, cows and chickens for the first time and petted a sheep … that sealed it for me. He was SO happy.
I know kids love animals, especially approachable, friendly farm animals. It goes deeper than that. When I saw the delight in Myles’ eyes as we wandered through the barns, it made me think about the type of childhood I want him to have.
I’m sure it’s a romanticized notion, but I feel like growing up a “farm kid” has a lot of positives:
A priority placed on home and family
Learning the values of hard work and responsibility
Understanding of where food comes from
Appreciating homemade things and not being as caught up in “consumer culture”
Taking time to make your own fun at home instead of being constantly on-the-go
That’s the childhood I want Myles to have and remember. That’s the childhood I hope will shape him into a strong, hardworking, caring, and gentle man someday. I want him to love his home and his family, and not be afraid to get his hands dirty. I want him to take pride in a hard day’s work. I want him to take pleasure in the simple things, and use his imagination and creativity to have fun.
Building a chicken coop so we can have hens and fresh eggs next year isn’t just a whim; it’s about the life I want to craft for my family. It’s the beginning of something much, much bigger.
It is the beginning of disciplining myself to slow down and unplug too. Hungry livestock can’t wait. Gardens need tending or the harvest is lost. It’s a commitment to myself, to my family, and to the living things that depend on us to unplug and engage with Mother Earth.