Kids Out On The “Farm”
Very few kids these days get to go out work on a ranch or farm like kids used to. The old stories about spending summers out wrangling cows and mucking out stalls have given way to summers spent on phones and on devices. Kids these days have a lot of things we never had, but they are missing some very simple experiences.
Hard work, in all its glory!
There is no work like ranch work, because the animals don’t care about your mood, the weather, or how you’re feeling. Animals need to be fed, the cow needs to be milked, and the fences needs to be repaired. All of it has to be done when it needs to be done, and can’t wait. If a cow is bloated, it doesn’t matter what time of day or night it happens, you have to go help it or the animal dies.
Our students get the nearly unique opportunity to go back to farm. They get to wrestle with calves, herd cows, shovel ditches, muck through manure, troubleshoot problems, and learn what it feels like to work hard and dirty. They get to learn how good it feels to take a hot shower that you’ve really earned.
The Fun Stuff, But Not Just The Fun Stuff!
When our students first get here, they pet the horses, pet the puppies, etc. After a few days or weeks, they stop talking about how cute the animals are, and start talking about projects they want to work on, or problems they have fixed or would like to fix. They become workers.
The times when we have to wrestle a big cow into a trailer, or we need to toss a calf for some medical reason, become the highlights of their week. When they make that transition from couch potato to ranch worker, we know we’ve made some real progress.
Mud, Sweat, and Lessons
Our ranch isn’t about green fields and white fences, though we have some green fields. It’s about projects, hard work, and building kids into adults. That means that things don’t always run the most efficient way possible. We see troughs overflow because a 16-year-old from the city was supposed to be watching it, but they’ll do better next time. We see a fence that isn’t fixed perfectly, or a ditch that isn’t straight, but we’ll try it again and fix it.
It’s about hard work, and the process of trying, failing, and trying again. It’s the way everyone should grow up, but we can offer it to only a few.