May 27 2022 08:00 AM

While we’re in the thick of busy spring fieldwork season, the kids in our lives can teach us valuable lessons about slowing down and appreciating what we have.

While it might take us a bit longer to finish picking rock in the fields when my niece is along, it’s worth it for the fun memories. They joy she has when she finds a rock (or usually pebble) is truly unmatched. Here she is with a sweatshirt pocket filled with little rocks.

It’s pouring rain in Iowa today, which means we get to take a breath and slow down a bit — or at least catch up on a few things. Farming is kind of an interesting rollercoaster of going slow on a rainy day to 100 miles an hour when the weather cooperates. Our job relies heavily on the weather, especially when talking about the crop side of dairy farming. But, even when we’re moving as fast as we can to beat the weather, taking cues from the kids in our lives can force us to look at where we are and soak it all in. The few extra minutes it takes to answer kids’ questions or let them help you is worth it for the pure joy and memories that can be had.

After a few cold and rainy spells delayed spring planting, farmers in our area have been going nonstop in the field to get their crops planted. Early mornings, long nights, having all hands on deck, and moving at top speed are all necessary to get everything done that we need to when the weather is nice and the soil is at its prime. From hauling manure and picking rock to working up the ground and planting – there’s a job for everyone. Doing trips to town for parts and driving everyone to different fields to keep equipment moving is a full-time job in itself.

Hauling load after load of chopped rye can get old, but the excitement kids get about tractor rides reminds us all how cool our job is.
On our farm, we were fortunate to get corn planted and the first round of rye chopped and stored in the bunker before the next round of rainy days. Those long days of regular cattle chores and squeezing in as much field work as we can are definitely tiring but so rewarding.

Having young kids around during those busy days makes all of us take a break here and there to appreciate different aspects of what we do. It’s worth it to stop for a few extra minutes with my niece to hold the baby kittens in our calf building. We’re always ready to give one of the kids a lift out to the field to ride along in the planter or chopper. While we try to get milking done, we’ll pause to say something funny over a walkie talkie to one of the kids on the other end. Or, as we try to finish picking rock in yet another field, we are willing to wait for my niece to pick up some tiny rocks and pebbles to fill her sweatshirt pockets for her rock collection.

Visiting the baby kittens in our calf building is a favorite for all the kids that visit. I’ll admit that I really enjoy taking a few minutes to cuddle with them, too.
There are so many little things we encounter every day that kids see in a whole different light. For them, picking up rocks from the field is fun! And riding in the tractor is a dream (one that most farmers had when they were that age). So, to all farmers, don’t forget to stop long enough to enjoy what you get to do every day and to make some memories with your little ones along the way. Look at your job through the lens of a toddler and imagine the many wonders that surround you at any given moment.

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 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.