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Wade, Montana and Wyatt Lawrence at the Minnesota State Fair. (Marytina Lawrence/Special to Agweek)

20 years of raising kids on the farm

Teach a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6). I have been talking a lot about life and kids lately and how the farm has worked as such a good teacher in raising our children. The verse above is one that my husband and I have lived by for 20 years of parenthood and I find that it has come full circle in several ways this week.

There is no doubt that farming is hard. Emotionally and physically, this profession can and at times, does take its toll on a family. The commitment to this life is unmatched in my opinion. We never have a day off. It is quite rare that our family, in its entirety, will ever go on a vacation. When we have, we still take time daily to check with whoever might be caring for things on the farm while we are away.

Mentally, downtime is non-existent. Now I don't make these comments seeking sympathy. Our life in farming is our choice, and most of the time that choice is great. Pertaining to our children, when they were young, farming was the key component of their life. Now with one off to her third year in college this week, and another starting in two weeks, I realize that on some levels they are departing from the farm.

The good news in all of this is the epiphany I had this week as I witnessed my children begin to operate independent of their parents. On our drive to college to move my daughter into her first apartment, she commented that she was so amazed that this year, they (meaning she and her siblings) actually moved into the county fair — cattle and all — without their parents being present. She was mildly impressed with herself and her brothers, and the notion that they could do it on their own.

It gave me sincere pause to contemplate the magnitude of her statement and it immediately brought to mind the scripture above.

I am reaching the end of a journey. It is significant, rewarding and agonizing all at the same time as I witness the purity of independence I see in my children. Their capabilities that have been molded and fostered are coming to life right in front of me, and the distress of knowing my job is almost complete and the need for me in my current role is beginning to wane.

Today my two sons drove themselves to the State Fair for 4-H. I arrived later to support them and visit with several other cattle breeders. During my visiting, I discovered the impact my boys are having on the adults and young people around them. Kind comments about their influence and behavior abound in my conversations and I was humbled and again reminded of Proverbs 22:6.

I feel truly blessed to have had the farm as my classroom for the past 20 years. Just when I thought it had given me all it could I am reminded that as I give to it, it returns in-kind. Farming is a way of life, cliched as it sounds, and that life has returned tenfold.