July 20 2020 10:30 AM

A childhood on the farm provides memories that last a lifetime.

Despite the fact that we’re a dwindling part of the population (which is a tragedy through my 25-year-old eyes), I’m always thrilled to come across a fellow farm kid. I love the moment when a conversation with a stranger turns into a surprising dive into memories of being raised on the farm. Those conversations fill my heart to the brim and remind me of the many ways farm kids are blessed due to their upbringing.

Whether you’re talking about the 7-year-old boy growing up on a farm today, the 40-year-old businesswoman who reminisces about visiting her grandparents’ acreage, or the farm kid turned farmer that is just trying to carry on one of America’s greatest occupations — farm memories last a lifetime.

I’ve heard time and time again from fellow farmers that one of their favorite things about their occupation is being able to share the farming lifestyle with their children. It’s a very different way of growing up for all the best reasons.

On our 300-cow dairy, we are in full swing chopping and baling hay, which means long days full of field work and scrambling to fit chores and milking in between sun-up and sun-down. One of the best parts? Watching my nieces and nephews soak in all the craziness in the most innocent of ways. Their disbelief at how tall the corn is, how massive the pile of silage gets, or how much a calf’s tongue tickles as it licks them reminds me just how amazing our job is.

I have 7-year-old and 4-year-old nephews, and a 1-year old niece who spend a ton of time on the farm, plus a couple other nieces that come to visit often. These kids are getting to the age where their little, everyday farm discoveries and obsessions remind me of my own.

Here are 10 things that I remember being enthralled with or just had a blast doing when I was a farm kid. I know these will resonate with a lot of fellow farm kids, and I am beyond thrilled to be able to share these experiences with the next generation of my family.

My top 10 farm kid memories include:

  1. Greeting our milk man daily to get a sucker for myself and a treat for our dogs.
  2. Running on top of rows of hay bales and being daring enough to jump from row to row as I got bigger.
  3. Making the first imperfection in the pile of sand left by the dump truck.
  4. Picking out the perfect heifer to bring to the county fair.
  5. Falling asleep while riding with my dad in the combine.
  6. Finding treasured rocks for my rock collection while my older siblings and parents enduring the dreaded task of picking rocks from the fields.
  7. Grabbing a homemade ice cream sandwich from the freezer after a scorching day of unloading hay.
  8. Inviting friends from town over and opening their eyes to the joy of feeding bottle calves.
  9. Unrolling the huge sheet of plastic to cover the silage bunker by rolling with it down the pile.
  10. Being lifted up by my mom or dad so I could reach the buttons that let the cows out of the milking parlor.

This list could easily go on, and I’m sure I’d have a completely different list on any given day. That’s because growing up on a farm offers so many unique experiences that become engrained in your memory. The best part of it all is that you get to experience it with family. I cherish every day I get to experience new farm kid memories with our family’s newest farm kids.

Molly 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 two 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.