As I watched my youngest girl trot happily out to the chicken coop to muck the thing, I couldn’t help but shout with joy. She arrived knowing every dance move from the rap videos on MTV and all of the lyrics (even the scary ones). Now she hums “If You’re Happy and You Know It” under her breath while feeding chickens and helping me stir batches of laundry detergent. But does that a farm kid make?
Old Mr. W, my neighbor from childhood, swore that farm kids were born and not made. He theorized that no child born into suburbia could ever transition into farm life. They would never be able to understand that feeding the animals is just not a chore that can be forgotten. They would never “get it” that sleeping in meant that the cows wouldn’t be milked, the horses would go hungry, and the chickens wouldn’t be let out of their coop to enjoy the sunlight in order to lay eggs. Ultimately, he felt that city kids would feel robbed of their childhood were they to wake up one day and be expected to farm. Oprah would be called, Tom Cruise would fly in and jump on the furniture, R.E.M. would burst into “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” and the poor little displaced child would be returned to a world of video games and designer clothes.
We take a slightly different view. Kids, we believe, really don’t wish to spend their formative years turning their brains to chunky peanut butter. They would much rather pop out of bed early and paint the chicken coop or gather eggs than most anything else. The daily chores become adventures and opportunities to make lasting memories.
So, the question must be put to you, my wonderful friends. Is a farm kid born or made?