We Can Do Hard Things, and Other Lessons From Farm Life


March 25, 2019

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When I was a young girl, I always dreamed of living on a farm. Even though I had never lived on one before, I just knew I always wanted to—someday.

Little did I know that I would actually end up living that dream.

I grew up in the suburbs, went to college for engineering and after that, began working my first job in a large city as a manufacturing engineer. Eventually I met my future husband, and as life would have it, he happened to own a horse farm.

He is a fourth generation horseman who has always lived on a farm and trained horses.

After we got married and had our first baby, I quit my job to be able to travel with him across the country for horse shows. He trains and sells horses for our clients and shows them at a national level, which means he is gone quite a bit throughout the year. We have a lot of fun living this lifestyle!

We are now raising four children, ages 14, 11, 5 and 1, in addition to operating a 30-acre horse farm in central Georgia. We have 50-60 horses in training at a time, so there’s always a lot to do.

We also homeschool, which gives us the flexibility to travel across the country to attend some of the horse shows with my husband, or take time off of formal lessons when there are a lot of chores to help with.

I do love this lifestyle. It’s what we have always wanted for our family, and I love that the kids can just step outside our doors to a great, natural outdoor playground.

Though, I will admit that my city-girl, idealized vision of farm life did not quite prepare me for the sheer amount of dirt. I just can’t keep it out of the house!

We are truly grateful for the the great outdoors and other opportunities farm life has to offer, but, I’ll be honest—this lifestyle has taught us some hard lessons too.  

Above all, though, it has forged us into stronger, more capable people, and helped us see the beauty of the ordinary. While farm life isn’t always the dreamy life I envisioned as a little girl, we hope that our kids will carry all of these lessons—both the easy ones and the hard ones—with them for the rest of their lives.

01. We all have responsibilities.

Part of living on a farm means that there is always an abundance of tasks that need to be accomplished. It requires that everyone pitches in to help out, but I love that this means we can get the kids involved in chores at a very young age.

It does help that most of the work on our horse farm is outside, involving horses or using large pieces of equipment. My boys fight for the chance to run the bulldozer or skid steer and usually by the time they are 8 or 9, they are tall enough to see over the steering wheel of the truck, so we teach them how to drive.

My one year old is learning the importance of closing gates behind him, while the older kids have chores like unloading hay, watering horses, cleaning stalls, sweeping aisles, loading and unloading the trailer at horse shows.

If someone takes a shortcut on a job they are responsible for, they quickly learn how it affects everyone involved—horses, clients, family, employees. It runs full circle, and quickly.  

But I think if you do something you love, and your kids are around you to notice, they naturally want to do what you are doing. We try to encourage that natural desire to want to help by letting them be involved.

Chores are a natural part of our life (of anyone’s life).  We want them to know that they are not a burden, but an opportunity to serve those around them with joy. If this is where God has put us, then every task we do has great importance, whether we see it or not.

I think our key to sanctity is to discover the extraordinary hidden in the ordinary moments of our lives.

02. Sometimes you have to think quickly on your feet.

Our oldest was eight when one day my husband needed another hand to load hay, so Brendan got a quick lesson in how to drive the truck with the 20’ trailer—this way, the other men could throw hay onto it while he was navigating the field.

He had to learn on the fly and to be taught how to think quickly on his feet, like so many situations in farm life (and the outside world too). But he was so proud to be given such responsibly and to be a part of the team, learning the simple beauty and satisfaction of a job well done.

03. With perseverance, you can do hard things for God.

Horses still need water, food, and medication when you are not feeling well, when it’s Christmas or your birthday or when you have a friend over. The animals eat before you can eat.

Farm living constantly requires placing the needs of others, both humans and animals, before your own. Our kids can see the beauty and the importance of tending animals that are solely relying on them for sustenance and wellbeing: the animals must come first.

Because of this, we are constantly reminded that we are not the ones ultimately in control. A sick or loose horse, equipment problems, cold weather, rain, and even hurricanes—all can affect our plans for the day.  We have to be willing to be led by God.

The kids are learning to be flexible and patient, willing to give up plans that we might have scheduled in order to go with the day that we are dealt.

These lessons are hard for anyone, but kids especially. But we are constantly amazed by their strength and resilience: we can see that they’re learning that they can do hard, dirty, challenging things for God with grit and perseverance.

And that your attitude will determine your day.

04. All of God’s creatures deserve respect.

My husband and I talk about this all the time: the main impression we hope is written on their hearts from this work is compassion and consideration for all of God’s creatures.

We see precious life being created and born into this world, as well as the value of peaceful, respectful death for an animal that has lived a good life. And because of that, we’re able to witness the beauty of life together.

Whether it’s the crabby man at church, your pesky little sister, or the horse that just doesn’t understand what you’re asking of him, everyone deserves respect and compassion.

And while this lifestyle is often hard and requires a lot of sacrifice, I’m so grateful for all of the lessons and values that it has instilled in our family.

Virtues like stewardship, respect, humility, patience, responsibility, fidelity, diligence and fortitude are all required in order to have a successful operation, and are peacefully forged by the beautiful fires of farm life.

But most importantly, as a family, I think we’ve realized that farming and ranching requires a real faith in God in order to thrive. The work might be raw and unglamorous, filled with sweat and hard work, but like any other work: if it is done as a sacrifice for others, in His name, it is all beautiful.

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