Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
I had to take a drive the other day which took me through many small towns, suburbs and then into the city. It was a perfect spring day! Temps were about 70's degrees and the sun was shining. I was so happy to see everyone's flower beds blooming and tall grass had been cut. It was the exact definition of spring. Except, I was struck by the fact that it was a Sunday afternoon and there were no children outside.
Where have all of the children gone? When I was a child it would have been near impossible to keep me indoors on a day like that. I spent those afternoons playing ball, climbing trees, and catching frogs. On a homestead, children are expected to collect eggs, feed animals, mow grass and weed the garden. Time off is spent playing in the woods or skipping stones. I began to think about how this growing number of people who want to leave the city for the country will have a shock to deal with when it comes to their children. I wonder if those children will know what to do with themselves. Will they embrace the farm life since, after all, it fits so well with things kids seem to be interested in, or has society gone so far in the other direction for so long that they will resent being away from their video games and cell phones?
Then my mind wandered to the bigger picture. The agrarian life taught young people to work hard, solve problems, and be independent. These generations used these skills to become inventors, creators, and entrepreneurs. They created the technology and started the businesses that make the world run today and in the process moved away from an agrarian lifestyle. A child's life today reflects what might be needed to compete in this world. They are well adapted to being inside in an office all day. They have learned how to communicate in various ways such as email, cell phones, texting, etc. They understand the latest technology and can hook up new video game consoles, debug computers, and create videos online. Can a country kid compete with that?
I thought about our own homestead and saw all of the opportunities the children have, but couldn't reconcile the question. Many of the challenges we face as adults living in a rural county are also faced by our children. They have a very small library with outdated books in town. They do not have access to high speed Internet. There are many areas of the town where cell phones don't work and so some homes don't even have them. The schools, while sufficient, don't offer opportunities like a city school and it's a constant struggle to increase the number of college acceptances. They will never learn how to ride public transportation and rarely encounter a traffic light. Our values as homesteaders means we live a simple life and get most of our entertainment from nature. The kids may know how to fish and camp, but they don't understand theater or amusement parks and aren't familiar with the newest video games or movies. While this all fits in with the other children in town, what does it mean for their future?
My thoughts are that children who grow up on a homestead have experiences and skills that will help them throughout their life. They are healthier and understand the importance that diet and exercise have on their bodies. They are able to balance work and play and understand that chores come first and you are able to make your own schedule, set your own pace, and decide your own priorities so if you want to get to playing, you'd better get your work done straight away. They are problem solvers and spend much of their time observing cause and effect. They have values grounded in real life and nature and respect the land and animals around them. They use their minds to build things, create games, and imagine rather than waiting to be entertained. They know how to save and budget and prepare for a rainy day or emergency. And they have skills to take care of themselves like hunting, fishing, growing food and cooking. I guess in the end, these are things that are valuable no matter where adulthood leads them. Adapting to dormitory life in college or learning how to act in a business meeting with suit and tie are just going to be more things they have to learn if they choose to take that path. I have had a book on my "to read" list for some time now called,"Last Child In the Woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit d.... Maybe this will help me to reconcile my questions, but I wonder what other Farm Dreamer's experiences are.
How have your children adapted from city life to country life? What are their concerns and what do you see in store for their future?
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