Things I Learned Growing Up On A Farm

 

When I was 10 my parents moved us from the suburbs of Columbus to Newark, Ohio, to a small stone house built upon itself over generations and nestled in a lush valley. In Columbus, we'd already kept a thriving garden, chickens, ducks, and even turkeys in our tiny fenced-in backyard, but all of a sudden we had 6 acres of wilderness to roam, play, and grow, and grow we did. 

I remember Dad telling us to not wear shoes in the tall grass so that our feet would toughen up, and I remember our first garden being plowed through the acres of unused land. I learned it was really important to make friends with the neighbors, especially the ones who had proper farm machinery, and I learned why you have to alternate corn and soybeans in fields. 

I remember us bringing home a little orange kitten that was for sale up at the corner store, and I remember when that kitten got eaten by a possum. There was a great deal of death on the farm, especially living on a busy, high-speed road, but there was even more life. There were chicks, calves, puppies, and kittens, nearly all of which we witnessed entering the world and leaving it. I learned how to properly kill, clean, and gut a chicken, and how to cook one.

I remember thinking the woods were magical, and I remember following the deer paths until I was thoroughly lost. I learned how to find my way home every time, and I learned who's property to not explore through. I learned that deer are territorial, fawns will hide in the underbrush, and vines are really fun to swing on. Dad built us a fort in the woods to hide in, and I learned boredom breeds imagination. 

I remember spending summers in the creek, and learning how to catch crawdads with my bare hands. My brother and I learned to build a shelter made of branches and leaves, and how to start a fire to cook said crawdads on (not good for eating). I learned that the creek bank changes with the seasons, as do some of the creatures who inhabit it. Snapping turtles are no joke (good for eating), and it was a good time to fish after a solid rain.

I remember Mom and Dad buying me a horse for Christmas when I was 14, and I remember wishing I could ride her bareback through the meadows like a country princess like I'd imagined I could be. I learned that dream was unrealistic, horses are expensive, and they take a lot more work and care than I was prepared for (despite the countless books I read). I also learned that if you offer a free horse on Craigslist, you'll make a lot of friends. 

I remember incredibly hot, humid, non-air-conditioned summers, and learned that before sunrise and after sunset were the best times to get work done. The creek was the only place to find relief, and I learned that rain, no matter the season, was a good thing. In winter, I learned that ice could knock out power but it was really fun to skate on.

I remember taking produce to the local Farmer's Market early every Saturday morning during the summer and fall, and how excited I was to get my cut from the daily earnings. I learned how to accurately count back money, talk to adults properly, and make a damn good salsa. 

I remember wanting to leave home really, really badly, and that the city lights seemed more enchanting than the lightning bugs on summer nights. I've taken for granted the things I learned and experienced growing up on that little farm, and how those lessons shaped the adult I am today. I've learned to equally love walking through the woods as much as I do the sidewalks of a city, but more importantly, I've learned to make my own way, brush the dirt off if I fall down, and always be home for Sunday dinner.