Aug. 27 2020 11:30 AM

For farm kids, the classroom is where the green corn grows.

We started chopping corn silage this week, which provides a great opportunity for our farm kids to help and learn.

Is it just me, or are all of the mothers out there feeling a tad overwhelmed as their children go back to school because of the uncertainty the school year brings amid COVID-19? Whether it is hybrid school, remote-only, or attending in-person, knowing a change could happen overnight makes you plan for the worst and hope for the best. We are farm wives, after all, and this is our mantra, which has been sown deep into us.

Our daughter helped pack the silage.

Farm moms are trying to be the coordinator and the cheerleader to make it all flow as seamlessly as possible. Personally, we are a couple weeks into the new school year, and I don't want to jinx how well it seems to be going.

A few days ago, some nearby schools in our area have been forced to change to online learning only because of COVID-19, and I said to Scott, "What happens if this is us?"

He smiled big and said, "Well, I could use the extra help at home." It made me chuckle because I think Scott focused so much on how kids being home could continue to help him with the farm and not how would it help our kids.

Of course, like my husband, many farmers may feel the same way. The COVID-19 school schedule equals extra helping hands during harvest and on the farm.

But, I thought again, how does this really assist my children? That very same question was answered today. My older kids, Tyler, 16, and Cassie, 14, go to school four days a week from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., then come home to do the rest of their schooling. Today, they literally drove home and ran to the tractors, calling dibs on who would get to drive which one. They are well aware of the amount of help chopping requires and rose above to lend a helping hand. Of course, they have more schoolwork to do, but that'll have to wait, the duo tells me, since "corn is ready to chop now!"

Cassie learned how to haul wagons, keeping up with her father, who is running the chopper.

My heart really smiled at the maturity the twosome has illustrated lately. Farm life teaches discipline, responsibility, patience, and the power of working for a common goal. These values are hard to teach in a classroom, but are easily taught when witnessed firsthand day-after-day, year-after-year, growing up on a family dairy farm. Chopping corn is what I like to call an "all hands on deck" kind of job.

So, as the school year begins for many of you across the country, we must grasp that this is a school year that won't be like any other. While many of the children will spend considerably less time in the classroom, I appreciate that sometimes the best learning opportunity occurs outside of it. We are literally surrounded by hundreds of acres of corn, brown cows galore, and two generations that show our children daily about the power of hard work, commitment, and teamwork.


Karen Bohnert

Karen Bohnert is a second-generation dairy farmer, born and raised on her family dairy in Oregon and moved east after graduating from Oregon State Univer-sity. Karen and her husband work in partnership with family, and they along with their three children live and work on the family's 500 Jersey cow dairy in East Moline, Ill. Karen's pride and love for dairy could fill a barn, and she actively promotes dairy anyway she can.

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