I happen to be raising some pretty strong willed, nature loving farm girls. This comes with a lot of responsibility on my end, both in keeping them safe and guiding them in this very particular development. I sit and reflect with the green buds bursting about what it means to be on this journey. As farming season is once again in full swing I have come up with a recipe for how to raise a farm girl. Here in lies the recipe to success, or at least what I have found to be successful in my particular family constellation. I have written this intentionally as an homage to my middle child on her birthday so it is whom I reference in these writings.
2 cups of the right name
I firmly believe that a piece of a person is their name. That a name both reflects the individual as they come into the world and the individual that a parent hopes to gift to the world. That being said if you wish to give the world one bad ass farm biddy, then they deserve an apropos name.
In thinking about girl names me and my husband always gravitated towards influential women. Women that have changed the course of history by being brave souls and that did not let societal norms define the kind of person that they would become. Our middle child is named Amelie. This at its core is linked to Amelia Earhart. I loved the idea of my daughters name sake being a woman who dared to do something amazing before a man even did it. While I think that the women in our society often take the first step before men, I think credit is rarely given when it’s due and when it is we need to celebrate it all the more. However my husband not being a fan of the name Amelia we compromised on the French translation Amelie. Ironically now when she is being a bit of a pill, my husband will refer to her as Amelia.
A heaping portion of independence
So much of fostering a spirit that infuse the stewardship of a particular land involves independence. I do not offer my children help without first watching them in their endeavor, and if they seem to be struggling to the point of frustration I ask if they would like my help.
I don’t want my children’s successes to be linked to me in a way that overshadows their ability to navigate the world on their own. I do not buffer them from bumps and scrapes yet I am always there to kiss a boo-boo or to rub cream on an area that hurts.
I give my children the freedom to roam and explore their world and not have it be dictated by my experience of the situation. Rather when they come back home enthusiastically ask them about what they’ve been doing so that they know I’m interested in how their time is spent even if I am not directly a part of it.
4 Tablespoons of reverence
I believe that in order to care for a land you must be able to really see that land. It has to hold a place in your heart,it must surpass the logistical ordering of how to care for animals and how to till a field.
I aim to create reverence in small but subtle ways. It’s finding bits of nature to make a gnome home. It’s waking the kids up in the middle of the night to hear the peepers in early spring. It’s going out into the lawn in the morning and moving the blades of grass so they dew drops glide down and connect. It’s taking the time to weed our gardens and imagine the future bearing fruits of our labor’s. It’s slowly building up to each season with the creating of decorations or gifts for family and friends. It’s all of these things and a 1000 other small things that you could be doing with your own children or family.
I personally think that reverence is a lost art in modern day society. That with the advent of technology we’ve lost touch with what’s actually happening in front of us. But the reality is magical things are in abundance if we can stop and noticed them. And it is the small things that will mold our children into the people that they are yet to become.
That all being said you will note that the recipe only calls for 4 tablespoons of reverence . This is because when you have too much reverence you fall into the realm more of mysticism than reality. That in fact when you imbue something with too much you can actually change it into something it’s not and it can alter persons perception of reality. So remember, 4 tablespoons and no more.
One bushel of can do attitude
Living on a farm takes a lot of knowledge. Thankfully we live in a community where the farming responsibilities are shared. Now I myself am not a farmer per se, but there is a certain sense of responsibility that comes with living on this land. Part of that is knowing how to preserve the food we work so hard to grow so that it can last us through the winter. Part of it is knowing how to stop a stampeding cow. Part of it is throwing bales of hay in a dress on your way out to dinner on Friday night. And while I myself do not help with the mechanical issues of a hay elevator or tractor, if one of my children ever ask me a question about these things you can bet your sweet ass that we walk right over and ask questions. My children are taught that they can learn anything, and if their is something we do not know how to do, we find a book or a person and get cracking.
Two pairs of muck boots
Mud and shit happen in Farm life. Be prepared.
One pint of reduce,reuse, recycle
An awareness of the impact that we have on the earth goes a long way in farming. Small-scale farming is not for the week of heart, and it is certainly not a vacation from a 9-to-5 job. It is done as a means to be a salve for the pains of the world. You do it because you are aware of the effects of greenhouse gas omissions in relation to large scale farming. You do it because you know a cow that has been bottle-fed and walked on a leash and put to pasture on fresh green grass is going to produce a higher caliber milk and make a hell of a steak. And this mentality generally surpasses just the act of farming. It includes unraveling old blankets to knit it into new hats, it is sewing on patches to hand me down pants, or handpicking 75 pounds of blueberries fresh in season from a farm down the road rather than buying them from a big brand grocery store in December shipped from half a world away. All of these things and intentions must be taught to a child through active observation.
Now I myself did not witness these things in early childhood, but I had a love of literature that made me aware of these things. It created a vision so clear and pure in my mind that it altered the path of my whole life. I am forever grateful of the fact that for a period of time a librarian lived in the apartment building next to me, and that I grew up walking distance from the public library. That all being said while I live on a farm I will never be a farm girl for these exact reasons. Just as I will never be a Vermonter because I was not born in Vermont.
Additional ingredients per preference:
Wisps of imaginations
Three cups of hand picked fruits or vegetables of your choosing.
A pinch of impish behavior
One butt ton of humor
Mix ingredients briskly whilst outside in the fresh air daily. Do not be wary of seasonal conditions, this should be done in all seasons regardless of weather.
Welcome all stories, bangs, bruises and holes in clothes with open arms.
Breath deeply and trust that you are raising an amazing person that will set this world on fire.