If you live in a city or a suburb, you should treat yourself to a taste of country life.
I drove through fog and the most beautiful fall foliage you’ve ever seen before pulling into the driveway of a family-owned dairy farm right in the heart of Central Illinois. A sharp inhale of fresh manure welcomed me to this patch of country where dozens of cows grazed to my left and a handful of sheep were being sheared to my right. My son hummed the tune of Old McDonald under his breath as Miriam Rosenbohm came out to greet our family. Miriam and her husband, Fred, run this fourth-generation farm and graciously invite children to tour the land, feed the calves, chickens and horses and get a real sense of where their food comes from. I knew it’d be a great teaching tool for my little ones…but I had no idea that I’d be the one learning some great lessons today.
1. Passion trumps profit margin. I marveled at the labor-intensive work it took to shear a pen of sheep, feed cows and manage a herd of horses. I snapped out of my self-pity from being a sleep-deprived mamma when Miriam said she wakes up every morning at five to give the calves a bottle of milk…and for decades, she had to feed them from 4 to 8 in the evening, too. I teased, “Well, I hope you get a good return on your investment!” Miriam responded, “We don’t profit from the calves until they’re 2-years-old and start making milk…and the sheep don’t profit us at all. Their wool gives between twenty cents to a buck a pound. There’s no money in wool…But that’s not why we do it. We love it. We love the land. We love these animals.” It’s in her blood.
2. Kids live up to your expectations–whether you set them high or low. Miriam’s daughter, Laura, chimed in that when she was a kid, she and her siblings would wake up before the crack of dawn and help feed the cows…and for four hours after school, they’d have to tend to the animals, too. I asked if she resented her parents for pushing them to work so hard and she said, “Nope. We respected our parents. We saw how hard they worked and we considered farming a family affair. No questions asked.” Gosh, I can’t imagine giving my own kids more than one chore a day that would take twenty minutes tops to complete–and they still complain about that!
3. Physical labor is good for the soul. My son delighted in running the push reel mower across an acreage of land as Laura and I swapped stories on life as working moms in the ‘burbs. She moved out of the farm and into the suburbs once she got married and had a little girl. She mused, “Isn’t it funny that we spend tons of money developing technology for labor-saving devices…and then turn around and spend tons of money on gym memberships to exercise our bodies, waste the time we do have on mindless electronics and then spend our remaining free time shuttling our kids to sports activities to give them an exercise outlet and teach them teamwork? Have we lost our minds?!” I’m more of a city girl myself who enjoys electronics and the ease of life in the suburbs…but standing in that pasture as the sun rose while my kids squealed over corn feed, chickens and playing in the dirt, I realized the less we’re in touch with nature, the more disconnected we are from humanity.
My time at Linden Hill Farms reminded me to put down my blasted computer and reconnect with nature. God has always spoken to us, provided for us and connected with us through the beauty and power of His creation. The most accessible way for us all to enjoy the glory of God is to get lost in a forest, swim in a lake, trudge through a farm…This part of the country is especially lovely today. I think I’ll take my kids on a nice hike this afternoon. Hope you do the same!