Why Do This?

A reader from Southern California (actually not far from where our family lived, pre-farm) who wishes he could be doing what we’re doing, Kevin Aldrich, writes with some important thoughts and observations:

It would seem that the reason to have a family farm is not so much to grow your own food or have a viable business as to have a means of raising your kids well. They are more “in touch” with real life and work with their hands, not just with their heads and technology.

Here’s a kind of a idea for raising kids—not that I’ve done it for any of mine—but a child’s development could kind of follow the history of the development of humanity. It seems like we are more and more cut off from the life that most people have led through most of human history. Not that we want any of the negatives, like mortality rates before modern medicine, or famines before the Green Revolution, or battles followed by rape and pillage.

Rather, it seems like kids would have a huge advantage if their youths were filled with activities like storytelling, memorization, growing your own food, dealing with animals, running, fighting, using weapons, building fires and doing without electricity, dealing with heat and cold and darkness, writing with pencils instead of keyboards, penmanship, building and fixing things, reading instead of watching, talking instead of texting. Have you seen Disney/Pixar’s Wall-E? People are fat and chair-bound and taken care of by robots. It really is the future.

I guess I think about this because I live on the edge of the center of modern, artificial living…

It really is remarkable how different the Yeoman Farm Children are from other kids their age. They get up each morning, go outside, and are responsible for milking two goats. They take the goats out to pasture. In the evenings, they do it all again (in reverse), and hunt all over the barn gathering eggs, and make sure the various animals have the food they need. They are present when lambs and goat kids are born, alert us to any problems those animals may have, work to ensure the health of all those animals … and help load mature animals into the truck when it’s time to go to the butcher. They know how to cultivate soil, how to plant seeds, how to tell the difference between a weed and a “good” seedling, which tomatoes and peppers are ripe, how to handle fresh produce (and eggs) without damaging or breaking anything. And because their severe food allergies make meal preparation such a big production (in the time it takes most kids to finish off a bowl of Fruit Loops, we’re still grinding grain for hot cream-of-rice cereal), they have learned to take the lead in cooking breakfasts and lunches from scratch.

They do not have iPods or cell phones or Facebook pages, do not “text” their friends, have never surfed beyond the EWTN Kids website, and their television viewing is limited and always supervised (and made up of sports, politics, religious, and History Channel type stuff). They read a lot of books, particularly historical fiction. They know how to type, and how to use computers, but do most of their work with pen and paper. They know firearms are not toys, but rather powerful tools which must be respected and handled safely and responsibly.

When we first moved to the country, one of our primary motivations was getting control of our food supply. But the longer we’ve been doing this, and the more we’ve observed the way our kids have thrived, our motivation for continuing to farm has increasingly become the whole lifestyle and culture in which our family is immersed here, and the sorts of well-rounded young adults into which the YFCs are growing. It’s hard to imagine anything that could’ve been better for them. Or for us.

3 thoughts on “Why Do This?

  1. AMEN AMEN AMEN I say again! (can I jump up and down, wave my arms, and shoot off fireworks in agreement?).

    We planned to move to the country once my husband retired from the Army. Which we did. We told the children all along “when we move to the country” and “when we get our land”, and “when we can have animals”…

    And now we do. And I cannot imagine life any other way. I don't *want* to imagine life any other way.

    Like yours, mine do most of their work with pencil and paper, spend their time doing their chores, playing “normally”–not on video games!–doing their schoolwork–or just plain old reading a book (preferably, one of the pre 1960s books I have, since so much has been “dumbed down” since then).

    While we do have tv, and they do watch some, it mostly revolves around history, discovery, or one of the religious shows. A “treat” for them, is being allowed to stay up and watch the Duggar's show, 18 kids and counting, on TLC. I think that is the kind of treat I'd like my children to enjoy.

    And as much as I wish there were more like-minded folks around us, I am just as glad that there aren't, as with more 'interference', comes more complication. I just want to keep it simple. Let the children learn. Let them LIVE. Let them breathe the fresh air midmorning, as they go outside to run around for a little while and do an “egg hunt”. Maybe work a few of the fidgets out on the trampoline (my second daughter would undoubtedly have been labeled and sent to some special ed class by now, with her need for movement and speech delay, but she is quite the smart little cookie, and just needs speech therapy and plenty of opportunity to work out the kinks. LOL).

    Thanks be to God for the opportunity to raise and educate my children the way I (we) see fit.


  2. It's great to hear that you see the benefits in your children from the way you are rearing them. The things you mentioned are the exact reasons we hope to one day have land to move our family to one day.


  3. All I can say is Amen. Kids, chores, country living….it's a good life. And I'm very, very, grateful. I used to take it for granted and sort of get tired of the work, but seeing the kids grow up and do so well with this sort of alternative lifestyle has made me a much more humble servant.


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