My Generation
Barn report: Early-morning education

Barn report: Early-morning education

Never let school get in the way of education? Not a chance – not during calving season, anyway!

Friday morning. The kids were awake. I was getting breakfast, and my biggest problem at that moment lay in taking stock of who wanted egg-in-a-hole and who absolutely didn’t want egg-in-a-hole. Then John stuck his head in the back door: Nathan’s heifer was calving and we had to pull it. Now.

Just like that we went from, “Hey, who wants egg-in-a-hole,” to “Hey, let’s go pull a calf and you’ll probably be late to school!”

To their credit, the kids got on it. Jenna and Nathan threw on coveralls and boots and headed out. They helped pull the calf, learned some new words, and came back inside. Too late for the bus, but not too late to warm up the egg-in-a-hole. I drove them into town and we made it to school with seconds to spare.

As I drove home, I thought how quickly those kids turned on a dime that morning. In a heartbeat, they shifted gears from getting ready for school, to pulling on coveralls, saving a life, cleaning back up, eating breakfast and heading to school to take a spelling test.

That’s the thing about farm life, isn’t it? You learn to roll with the punches. Do what you need to do.

It’s a valuable life skill, whether you end up on the farm or not. When you intended to plant corn and then it rains. Or you just put up new buildings and the bottom falls out of the hog market. Or you’re working in an office and your boss says you’ve been reassigned. Or you find out your loved one has cancer.

Those skills you learned so young and practiced so repeatedly on the farm come in handy. You  straighten your back, you assess what you need to do now, and then you do it. To heck with your plans.

And I’ll tell you what else I noticed that morning: everyone got along like champions. They were a true team. Talking and laughing and joking about how it all went down, encouraging each other in the car, wishing good luck on the spelling test. Perhaps “working well under pressure” is an inherited trait. Or maybe we need to pull calves every morning.

We weren’t late to school but even if we had been, my principal friend Chris Janssen reminded me: Never let school get in the way of education.

Never has that been more true.

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