Friday, January 24, 2014

Farming Friday: Raising kids & meat animals

My husband, William & I are blessed.  
We have 2 wonderful little boys,
are living on land that has been in his family for generations,
and able to share our passion for agriculture with what we hope will become the 11th generation of farmers!

With that said there are some challenges to raising kids on a farm,
we worry about their safety,
we worry about what they are missing,
and we worry about them learning too much to quickly.

We are a family farm,
we farm together as a family and everyone is expected to pull their weight, (sometimes quite literally)
each dollar that comes in we need to cover the cost of keeping the farm operating.
We aren't going to be millionaires no matter our gross is on our tax forms,
our net barely makes us middle class.

One part of our farm is raising animals for meat and we think it's important for the boys to understand where the meat in the grocery store began.  
Most of the time we raise calves to about 700 pounds before we sell them to a feed yard in the Midwest to finish them for a few months.  Those calves could end up on your dinner plate or mine. 
However, because we have the ability to there are years where we raise our own.  We also raise a few hogs each year as well.  Since we aren't a hog farm we don't have large number of hogs, so that makes them more interesting to the boys.  When something is more interesting the kids spend more time with it.  They develop a bond...which can make eating that animal more difficult.



This is where the lessons for the boys, especially Wyatt come in.
Wyatt's job is to help feed and care for market animals, especially his 2 market hogs.
Wyatt went with his daddy & Pop a few weeks ago and picked out 2 pig.  They weighed approximately 100 lbs and we will keep them fro 75 days.

Wyatt has to water and feed the pigs daily plus he has to get them use to him so he can exhibit them at the local show.  This means we spend a lot of time with our market pigs.  As parents, William & I, have to help Wyatt understand that the pigs have a purpose and that purpose is to supply meat for humans to eat.  It can be a hard concept to understand and many people struggle with the idea, but that is the reality of life.

So how does our 5 year old deal with these realities??
He takes a realistic view.
He ask questions that help him understand.
He gives the pigs the utmost care, ensuring they are always
well fed, watered and comfortable.
He also will remind me in the grocery store that we only have xx days
until our freezer is full of sausage, bacon, porkchops, & ham.

Yes, its a balancing act but I love that my son appreciates how
a farmer works to supply us with food to eat.  He knows the time and energy it takes to care for an animal and get them to market.  But he also has learned that a farmer must truly care for his animals and give them the best to ensure they are healthy.  Raising meat animals isn't always easy or fun but it is rewarding.

Caci
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