Dairy farm kids find lots of ways to make their own summer fun. Once their chores are done, I allow our kids to free range as much as possible. Free ranging develops their creativity, confidence, and independence.
But I think every parent has heard, "I'm bored. There's nothing to do."
We try our best to make time for summer activities like going to the public library or spending the afternoon swimming or fishing. There are times, though, when taking care of cows and crops keeps us on the farm. That's when options for at-home fun come in handy.
Here are four inexpensive ways for dairy farm kids to have more fun on the farm this summer:
1. Silage bag slip-n-slide
We made a giant slip-n-slide out of a leftover piece of a silage bag plastic, a couple garden hoses, and a sprinkler. We send the kids to the slip-n-slide during evening milking and run water from the plate cooler. The kids get warm water to play in and we cool the milk faster. Plus, it's a way for our kids to have water fun without the need for constant adult supervision.
2. Backyard camping
We usually go on one camping trip each summer with my family, but this year our schedules didn't line up. So we decided to go camping in our backyard.
We set up the tent, blew up the air mattress, and hauled the sleeping bags outside. We started a campfire in our fire pit (which is made from an old tractor tire rim) and roasted marshmallows for s'mores.
Backyard camping is actually way less stress than real camping and our kids were just as excited about it.
3. Sand pile
I gave up on a having a formal sandbox a long time ago. Our kids always ended up playing in the pile of sand we have on hand in the summer for bedding our calf hutches. I try to make sure there's always enough sand left in the pile to play in. Our youngest is usually the one in the sand pile, but I still catch the older two playing in the sand every once in awhile.
4. Nature explorations
We're lucky enough to have permanent fence lines, a wooded grove, and several small ponds on our farm. All three of these are great places for kids to explore nature.
I take the kids scouting for monarch caterpillars and other insects on the milkweed in the fence lines. Our oldest kids are responsible enough to go on expeditions by themselves around the pond to look for birds, turtles, frogs, and other wildlife.
It's important for farm kids to help with age-appropriate chores. It's equally important for them to be kids and have fun.
The author is a dairy farmer and writer from central Minnesota. She farms with her husband, Glen, and their three children. Sadie grew up on a dairy farm in northern Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in agricultural communications and marketing. She also blogs at Dairy Good Life.