Working Together On The Farm
Working together as a family is definitely a work in progress! It is a tough thing to accomplish some days. We have not arrived at our destination, but I can see that it has been getting better. Maybe it is the ages of our kids. It's a process that I believe it is worth pursuing! I want to encourage your family to work together!
I recently read a fabulous article by Joel Salatin in Mother Earth News magazine under the column name of Pitchfork Pulpit. I believe the article was something about how to get your kids to be motivated and to work hard. These are some serious thoughts that I wrestle with, so it was nice to read some thoughts on the matter. I am not going to attempt to quote him, but one of the things he talked about was; if your kids enjoy being with you and it's a good experience working as a family, it will be more likely that they will want to continue in the future.
Another good point that he made was, if your kids have invested their own money into having their own farm business and are making their own decisions in how they run their business they will be more motivated. Good point! I still haven't quite figured out how to do that completely. I like to do a bit of that, but most of the time our kids make a commission on our farm sales. Especially when we have raised meat chickens for other people. We all make less Benjamin's, if our chickens die because of an oversight or forgetfulness. Like the chicken waterer leaking all over the ground and it's 90 degrees that day. I am not willing to risk that!
One of our kids took care of two bottle lambs all summer and we let him have the money from one of the lambs that we sold to the neighbor.My kids have went to the farmers market with me and sold produce and garden plants and I gave them a commission. The egg money goes into a jar to save up to go away for the weekend at a hotel with a pool. Also at the end of the frigid and drawn-out winter, my kids will get a lump sum for doing their outside chores. I know, we could make them just do the chores because they live here. But we want everybody to know how valuable their contribution is for helping around the place!
I am not an expert on raising kids, after all the job is not done. There are day's that I have no idea if this is going to work out! But I have noticed kids respond well when they get a compliment on something they have worked hard on. Don't compliment them on everything, you should expect them to do a good job. It is good for them to know that you notice their contribution. Also ask your kids when you have a dilemma on how to accomplish something,"How do you think we should get this done." It is so fun to hear their ideas! Then try them out, if you think the new idea might work.
Do you enjoy being together as a family? Are mom and dad patient and calm, or are they super crabby? How does your family operate? When it's only you and one kid working on something together, don't forget to visit and explain what you are doing. They will really enjoy hanging out with you and learning from you! Just make sure you are enjoyable to be around. I enjoy taking just one kid to the garden. That way I can visit with just one kid, and get to know them better.
When you are working on a farm project, don't yell at them just because you sent them to find a wire cutter and they come back with nothing because they can't find it. Maybe you didn't put it back the last time you used it! Let's just laugh at ourselves and remember we make mistakes too! Life is full of mistakes. I am still shocked by how many I make!!!
As one of my kids ( I won't say who) was complaining about all the work we were doing one morning, I said, "Let's take a look at this, just back up and think through this. What if I had to leave every day to work a full time job, what would you be doing? Do you think you would be riding on a four wheeler with me? Do you think you would be enjoying this beautiful day? How many kids would love to be doing what you are doing? Everyday is different! Everyday is exciting! We never know what we are going to learn how today." That is the general gist of what I said, since I didn't record my exact words. Be excited about what you are doing! In the winter when you are thinking about your plans for the summer, tell your kids how excited you are about baling hay the next summer! Tell them how happy you are that you get to hang out with them. If their friends show any interest in butchering chickens, invite them over too!
With all this being said, you are going to have hard days; trying to teach your kids how to be responsible is hard. You are going to have doubts whether you are expecting too much or expecting too little. I would advise you to go check on your kids with their chores, especially when there are baby farm animals on the farm. Farm Babies should be checked on a few times a day. They die way too easy! Your kids are learning how to be observant. Go with them as they do their chores and patiently explain to them what to look for. Ask your kids how the situation could improve. Get their brains working!
Ask yourself is my kid starting to grow up into a responsible adult? Would I want to hire them if I was a boss? Keep in mind, this can be a long, and painful process. Ask the good Lord to help you. Cuz guess what, He will!
Here's a verse for you.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.