Over the past decade there has been many opinions, both in media outlets and in real life chatter about the millennial’s being entitled and spoiled. Supposedly they (we) are also so disconnected from anything that has anything to do with pulling boot straps up. Maybe I am somewhat biased because I am a millennial, but this so called spoiled and disconnect did not start with us. Suburban living and depending on supermarkets sprung up decades ago and gained traction over time. We grew up in it, we did not start it.
Finger pointing aside, families are slowly starting to return to some self sustaining and homesteading. This comes in all shapes and sizes, from just growing a few herbs and vegetables in the backyard to eating what the family kills via farming/ranching and/or hunting. While there are all variations, there is growing awareness about processed and packaged foods. My family did not “farm” after I was born, but we grew a few vegetables for a handful of years. I have yet to butcher an animal, but I always had a sense of where food came from. I had the privileged of drinking raw milk fresh from the farm of a neighbor’s friend. While we only grew a handful of vegetables, there were several people in our church who grew a wider variety. I always knew that food didn’t grow at the supermarket.
In such a throw away, and pre-packaged society; I too was concerned about my son’s thinking chicken nuggets were something that grew in the wild. Or even not knowing what defined “wild’. It takes time to build anything up unless you have gobs of funds to work with. I started making things from scratch before my oldest son Calvin was two. He did not understand the concept, but I still tried to involve him in things at age appropriate levels. Like shopping at farmer’s markets for the things I was going to make, so the word “farmer” would be familiar in his vocabulary. When reaching out of the shopping cart for applesauce pouches, explain that mama would make his applesauce from the apples in our cart. It wouldn’t be in bright colorful packaging, but it was much yummier and healthier. Now that we live somewhat country (meaning we still live technically inside city limits, but it’s a little country town), we started raising a small flock of chickens last year. It has been such a fun learning experience with my son, plus the benefit of learning responsibility in caring for animals. It was such a big excitement when we got their first eggs out of their nests!
Collecting eggs after school was fun, and I was impressed in how serious he took the chore. Even insisting on riding his little tractor to the coop.
Despite these small measures of down home-ness, I saw my five year old still falling into a pattern of making a tablet his only extra-curricular activity. I almost cringed to death the day I heard Calvin say “I want to be a You-tuber when I grow up”. Clearly, intervention was needed! He needed something more to occupy him, something of his very own. I began to research 4-H and our school district’s FFA. FFA Young Farmer’s was the path I decided on, and in his age group they only allowed goat does. I knew nothing about goats. I questioned my sanity for a minute before jumping into the deep end of goat ownership. Then I questioned it some more. We practiced all winter training Ms. Sparkle the goat how to walk on lead, and learning about what kind of nutrition she needed.
The first time he entered the arena ring I beamed with pride! Calvin was even more confident the second time. He spoke to the judges with as much poise as a five year old could. He knew all about his goat. He loved having a crowd clap for him and hearing his name called out over a loud speaker. Calvin felt like a rock star, and it gave him such a confident boost. For all the times I questioned my sanity, I am so glad we pushed through the hard times.
Our next chapter is breeding, and I already know that will open a whole book of questions about how babies are made and the cycle of life. I’m not sure if I’ll be ready, but it comes with the territory. Livestock just do their thing wherever they stand and wherever they please. Calvin will no doubt witness “the act” at some point.
To any parents wondering how to get their kids more engaged with life outside a video game, I encourage the plunge into FFA or 4-H, or just making a little backyard garden. There is a wealth of knowledge online, YouTube can actually be helpful sometimes. Even for families who choose to be vegetarian or vegan, there is still the categories of plants, growing, forestry and such. Agriculture is something that is full circle and touches us all whether we realize it or not. Because food does not grow in a factory or at the supermarket.