July 5 2024 10:58 AM

    Even though the summer months are always busy on the dairy, farming families know how to make work and play memorable and fun for all generations.

    With plenty of extra family time and festivities surrounding the holiday weekend, I’m reminded of the joy of slowing down to let the kids (and adults, as a side effect) have some fun. Since the kids in our family are all on summer vacation, we try to incorporate some extra entertainment and summertime activities into our days. These moments of shared joy are often brought about by simple treasures and moments that my siblings and I also enjoyed growing up on the farm. Even though the summer months are always hectic with farm work, farming families know how to make work and play memorable and fun for all generations involved.

    One trademark of a summer on the farm is breaking out the hose, sprinkler, pool, or water balloons to cool off on the hot and humid Midwest days. The ability to pick up with any of these activities as the days go by is always a treat. When my nieces and nephews all come to visit, you can bet we have swimsuits on and there will be time set aside for some fun in the water.

    Summer on the farm also wouldn’t be the same without four-wheeler rides through the woods and pastures. While the rides themselves are always a treat as the sun goes down in the evenings, we find extra pleasure out of picking blackberries, collecting wildflowers for bouquets, and watching all the wildlife and foliage. Those hauls of wild blackberries make their way back to the farmhouse where they go right on top of a heaping bowl of ice cream as an epic summertime treat. Well, in truth, about half the blackberries are usually in the kid’s bellies or smeared on their faces by the time we make it back to the farm, but that’s part of the fun, right?

    Speaking of good food and treats, summer on the farm also wouldn’t be complete without endless bites of watermelon, popsicles, and sweet corn. Plus, spending nights sitting around a campfire making s’more creations always tops the list while we enjoy playing with sparklers or catching fireflies in the quiet darkness of the countryside with the bellow of cattle as our background noise.

    During the day, the kids are always reminded to work with their fair animals. Nothing feels more like summer to me than watching kids wash or practice leading their fair calves. Caring for their show animals also means the kids have their own extra chore responsibilities, which is something I remember fondly from my summers growing up on the farm.

    Of course, there are the less fun parts of summer on the farm (like picking rock, unloading hay, and really doing anything in the miserable heat), but doing those things with family and balancing it with lots of fun make for unforgettable summer memories for every generation.

    Molly Ihde (Schmitt)

    The author dairy farms with her parents and brother near Hawkeye, Iowa. The family milks approximately 300 head of grade Holstein cows at Windsor Valley Dairy LLC — split half and half between a double-eight parallel milking parlor and four robotic milking units. In the spring of 2020, Molly decided to take a leap and fully embrace her love for the industry by returning full time to her family’s dairy.