Children and Sheep

Grandson feeding the goats

The farm is an important developmental and educational place for children. They are excited to see and touch animals they are not exposed to everyday. I love when my grandchildren visit. It is a joy to watch their faces and expressions when they are around the animals.

It is not just fun at my house. When they visit, they have to help with the chores. They learn the animals, dogs, cats, sheep, goats and horses are dependent on us giving them food and water. The first few days are fun, almost like a game. But then they start to feel chore time is work. I strive to teach them the responsibility of having an animal.

On the farm, children learn about life and death. Several of my grandchildren have experienced the birth of a baby animal. They are so awestricken with the new life. A few have seen where an animal has died through sickness or injury or age.

During one visit with a grandson, a toad was ran over in our drive. My grandson was young at the time, and afraid to go near the toad. I left the toad, usually I remove them, but I wanted him to not be afraid of death. Each day he would go look at the toad, getting closer and say, “Yeah, he is still dead.” On the fourth day, he touched the dead toad with a stick. The fifth day, he touched it with his hand and was examining the toad closer. We buried the toad. But during the same visit, he witnessed a foal being born, and was able to pet the young animal before it has stood. He spent hours watching the foal stand, learn to nurse, walk and move. Several times during the day, he would go and watch the foal. Children learn about life and death on the farm.

Today, children spend a lot of time in front of television or video games. In television and movies they see a person “dies”, but comes back to life in the next movie as a different character. During video games, while playing they may make a mistake and die, but they redeem a life, and continue playing. On the farm, death is final.

My farm also teaches the children where their food comes from. Vegetables come from the garden, grown from the ground. Fruit comes from the trees, and are sour when eaten green. Meat comes from the animals. Brown cows do not produce chocolate milk. Yes, I had a grandchild who thought that.

Like so many other farms and farmers, I grew up around animals and crops and garden. My children grew up around animals and crops and the garden. My grandchildren only see a farm when they visit Granny.

Many children leave the farm and do not return except to visit parents. Farming is risky hard work and low paying income. I have seen big cattle ranches sell out as their was no heir who wanted to run the ranch. I hope one of my grandchildren will have the desire to raise sheep.


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