On September 5, 2019
How many 5-year-old girls do you know who have placed in a national competition in speech? I know one: her name is Mylee Young.
Mylee is farm girl who shows goats in the Pee Wee division of the Junior American Boer Goat Association National Show and took second place in the speech division. And better yet? She’s teaching her little sister what she has already learned. You might wonder what these little kids could possibly know about the real world. Farm kids are smarter than we give them credit for because farm life exposes them to a lot of lessons many adults don’t ever experience.
Mylee, and her little sister, Maci, are the daughters of Matt and Mindy Young, who farm and ranch near Atchison. Together, they embody real-world wisdom packed into small frames. Here are a few of the lessons these girls, and many farm kids, have already mastered:
1. They understand where food comes from.
Whether it’s milk from their goats, eggs from their chickens, bread from their wheat or meat from their cattle, farm children understand the origins of their food. At one time in America, 97% of our population was directly connected to agriculture. Currently, that number is down to 3% of our population. That disconnect could be the reason 16 million people in America believe the chocolate milk comes from brown cows, according to a recent study.
2. They learn to be responsible for other lives.
Each day, Mylee and Maci trundle out in the morning and evening to feed and water their animals. These chores that farm kids do, daily, reinforce the importance of taking care of other living beings.
3. They learn safety.
There are many dangers on the farm from live animals to large equipment, yet farm kids are taught safety measures young because it’s a matter of life and death.
4. They learn about Mother Nature.
For many of us, a snow storm means a day off work or school. On a farm, a snow storm is life-threatening to their animals. The excessive rains this year have been hard on crops, livestock and equipment. Farm kids learn that weather is directly connected to their family income.
5. They learn to be entrepreneurs.
Mylee and Maci have their own goats and are required to keep records of animal costs, feed costs, medicine costs and how much they sell for. They also started their own roadside stand this summer to sell produce from their garden.
6. They learn to win and lose.
They compete in 4-H, county fairs, state fairs and national competitions. There are no participation trophies given to farm kids, only first, second or third place.
7. They learn early about the birds and bees.
When those of us who live in a city and drive by a farm with cattle, goats, pigs or chickens, we see animals. However, farm kids are taught early the complex cycle of breeding, gestation and birth. Mylee and Maci frequently help with live births.
If you don’t know a farm family with small children, please acquaint yourself with one. Like me, you’ll learn amazing lessons from children who are still learning their ABCs.