You can take the kid off the farm, but she may still find her way back home

            I love the graphic at the top of this page.  It reminds me of where I am, even who I am.  And it reminds me of why I moved back to this farm.

            I may have always loved this farm, but there were many years where you might not have discerned that from my conversations or behavior.  Growing up on a farm carries a lot of baggage.  I didn’t like being known as a Farm Kid because we, as country folks, were generally not held in very high esteem back in the 50’s and 60’s.  You could even say we were “looked down on.”  When I went to high school in Wamego, the bigger town nearby, all of us from this small, farming community of Belvue were placed in remedial classes.  We were never tested to see if we actually belonged there.  It was simply assumed we would not be able to keep up with those who had attended the larger school. 

           That would never happen today, so things have changed for the better, but I still get the impression some people don’t understand the lure of a Kansas farm, or appreciate the contribution farmers make to everyone’s life.  I have often told people to be sure they don’t criticize farmers with their mouth full.  But farming, as a lifestyle, is still often misunderstood.  When telling people I grew up on a Kansas farm I frequently notice expressions of romanticism or pity flicker across their faces. 

            “Did you grow chickens?” my friend Debbie, who grew up on Long Island, once asked me.

            “Well, we did the years we didn’t plant them too deep,” I answered with a deadpan expression.

            She eventually chuckled at my joke, but it took her awhile.  At dinner the night I brought Debbie to the farm, my mother asked her if she’d like a homemade pickle.  Debbie was flabbergasted that you could make pickles.  When my mother explained that pickles actually began as cucumbers, you would have thought Mom had just told Debbie that if she stood on the table and flapped her arms hard enough she would surely fly.  Debbie had never heard such a thing.  Honestly, she had never much thought about where her food came from, beyond the fact hers always came from a store.

            To Debbie, living on a farm was filled with wonder.  For others it offers a dream of a past time, when we assume things were easier.   But growing up on a farm wasn’t always easy.  It was a lot of hard work.  As a Farm Kid I grew up learning to drive tractors, trucks and combines.  While my townie friends spent their summer afternoons at the swimming pool and hanging out sipping cold beverages in a booth at the local drug store, I spent mine bouncing up and down on the back of an old red Farmall tractor.  There were days, many days, when I resented that.  Now I treasure those experiences because they taught me responsibility and teamwork.

           Although I often complained about it, I liked doing farm work, mostly because at the end of a long day in the fields you could look back over your shoulder and see exactly what you accomplished.  It may have been a long, hot, dirty day, but you could feel good about having spent it participating in honorable labor.

          Now when friends visit me here they often comment about how quiet it is.  There aren’t traffic noises and you don’t usually hear voices other than your own, but that doesn’t mean we live in a vacuum.  There are plenty of sounds out here on the prairie.  In the morning dozens of different birds call and sing with such glee and enthusiasm that I often wonder if they are singing for themselves, each other or possibly for me.  During the day I can hear quail calling out their “Bob White” and cicadas buzz sometimes so loudly it can seem deafening.  But if I listen more closely I can also pick up the sounds of frogs croaking along the edge of the pond, crickets chirping away in the grass, coyotes yelping from the hollows and owls hoo, hoo, hooting from the tops of trees. 

         No matter how quiet or peaceful the country life seems to be, it is teeming with life.  That’s what this land is about — supporting life.  That’s its purpose, its mission and why I am so honored to be a steward of this patch of farmland and prairie.

         When my friend Jason stepped out onto the deck the first evening he was here, he took in a deep, audible breath and said, “Wow!  You can really breathe here.” 

         Yes, indeed, you can.

         And that’s why I love the graphic at the top of this page, because it reminds me how much I love this land.  Where once I yearned to flee this farm and head to the cities to live among high rises, bustle and people, and after spending years doing that, I now realize this Farm Kid is finally where she belongs — home.

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About louannthomas

Speaker & writer
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19 Responses to You can take the kid off the farm, but she may still find her way back home

  1. Verlee says:

    It sure sounds like I have walked in similar shoes.

  2. Jason says:

    Breathing is good for the soul (and the lungs!) isn’t it? I could sure use another and a huge helping of your company. See you soon, my dear!

  3. Stephanie says:

    Didn’t grow up on a farm, but close enough that I recognize the truth of everything you wrote. Farming always has been a tough life, but it produces great people. You are evidence of that.

  4. Scott Schlender says:

    Thanks for some lovely prose to calm me down after a stressful day. I was reminded of all the wonderful stories I heard from grandpa and that I still hear from dad. I don’t care if I’ve heard them a hundred times. I’m just glad he’s still here to share them with me.

  5. Gary DeWeesw says:

    Good one Louann. Drove by the farm Sunday evening—things are looking good–you have alot to mow!

    Gary

  6. Pam says:

    I’ve always said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and to me, farmland and the Flint Hills are as beautiful as the mountains are to others. Coming from a farm community (yes, I’m a city kid from a town of 2500) I think our experiences at our friends farms were great. My dad was the district soil conservationist for 32 years and he knew all the farmers in Ottawa County. Also, which had the best ponds to fish and land to hunt quail, pheasant and deer (with special permission of course). Some of the best times of our childhood were spent at my grandparents little 40 acre farm in Arkansas with no indoor plumbing for many years. Spent practically the whole day and half the evening outside playing and feeding calves, bathing our cousin’s 4-H calf and eating homegrown food. Those truly were the “good old days!”

  7. Janet Berry Dawson says:

    I didn’t grow up on a farm, but we took care of Herb and Alice Weixelman’s farm in Louisville when they went on vacation. Loved gathering the eggs and helping my dad put the milkers on the cows. I’m a city girl now, but the memories of those days on the farm, will last a lifetime. You really captured the feeling.

  8. Christine says:

    Ahhhhh, the good old days (even though we didn’t always think that back then). I too love to go out in the country and just breathe. Kids today miss out on so much. You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.

  9. KJ says:

    There is nothing like breathing in the fresh air in the country. You are so very blessed to be on that sacred land.

  10. Osa says:

    You brought back memories of being a farm kid that I had forgotten. I graduated from a one-room school house with all 8 grades taught by the same teacher. We were bussed to Stanberry, MO for high school. I assumed that I would have no difficulty joining band class since I’d had 5 years of piano lessons by the time I was a freshman in high school. But, no, since I hadn’t had band in Jr. High, I wasn’t even to be considered for band. So, I joined choir and sang my way through high school instead. I wonder if they’ve changed their policy since then?

  11. Linda Uthoff says:

    Hey, fellow Farm girl! You hit it on the head! We were very lucky…thanks for helping us appreciate it.
    L.

  12. Joyce Rhodeman says:

    Hi LouAnn,
    I love reading your blog because, as you say, it takes me back to a time that I hated (when I was living it) but would give anything to be able to make a living and come back home!

    It seems like you have read my mind as I am reading your blog…you seem to take the words right out of my mouth. Good writing! Good read!

    Keep writing from a fellow country girl!

    Joyce.

  13. Gudrun Thomas says:

    Your words take me right there with you. I was not born on a farm, but my fondest memories are living in a small farming town in Germany. And of course I know your farm, fond memories there too. Loved it keep writing 🙂 G

  14. Barb Leeper says:

    LouAnn, what a refreshing article! The farm is still the heart of American living, you expressed it so well.

  15. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or one thing. I believe that you can do with some pics to drive the message dwelling a little bit, but aside from that, this can be great weblog. An incredible read. I will absolutely be back.

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