Bringing up a family on a farm is both thrilling and terrifying. Thrilling because they have lots of space to run around in and terrifying because a farm is a dangerous place of work and with machinery and large animals.
Is it possible to do both? The short answer is well, of course it is. Farming families go back to the beginning of time. How else would farms get passed onto the next generation if couples didn’t procreate? Do you want to know the secret to juggling parenting with farming? It’s lowering your expectations. It’s as easy as that.
The age old saying that you can’t have it all is one to keep in mind but do you know what? It’s ok.
One day you can harvest a 10 acre field, make a massive dinner and attend your child’s assembly. The next it’s a tin of soup for dinner, the cows get out and you forget the PE kit.
The thing to remember is that farming and children can be an unpredictable business.
Enjoying the little wins each day will stop you feeling inadequate and free yourself from the guilt that many of us feel.
Having children under the age of three is difficult whether you’re on a farm or not but adding what we do into the mix is never going to be easy. Play pens made of straw will only keep them amused for so long.
You can either bring them along and embrace everything this crazy life entails or keep to a strict routine and feel like a sole parent at certain times of the year.
A mixture of both of these options could well be the answer but what if you’re a livestock farmer and your children don’t like animals?
The truth is, as long as the animals are fed and looked after, the crops are tended to and you get through a day without resorting to a meltdown, screen time or bribery, you’re winning.
Being realistic about how much work you can get done with a wailing toddler also helps. The length of time it would take to do a task with children in tow, is usually greatly lengthened but knowing this somehow makes it less stressful.
In most cases, parents on and off farms would probably agree that we are all just winging it. Doing what we have to do to get through, raise our children and farm. We once installed Heras fencing around the garden to keep the children in. I used to joke that we could provide a never ending number of toy tractors and farm machinery but none would be as exciting as the real thing.
As parents you can quite often become victim of your own success; you really hope your kids will love farming but, when they do, you have to keep them at arms length until they are sensible enough not to lick diesel tanks or paddle in water troughs.
The blurred line between home and work will always be dubiously cloudy on a farm but this is why so many of us love it. Our children may go to school with straw in their hair and dust on their shoes but we can all pride ourselves on preparing them for life in our own unique ways. Being able to collect eggs, feed baby animals or round up a flock of sheep is just a farm parents way of teaching kids life skills that non-farming parents could only dream of.
As for juggling, we will keep spinning the plates because really, what else can we do?