I consider myself fortunate. Growing up on a farm in the Utah countryside was one of my greatest blessings. Life's lessons were not just talked about, they were taught to us by example every day. And every day of my youth, I watched my father and grandfather dedicate their days and nights to planting, watering, and growing crops and taking care of animals. But beyond a love for animals and an appreciation for where our food comes from, I learned many life lessons through their examples.
Do it well or not at all
My grandpa had a saying that was repeated so many times that it became engraved in my memory. "If a task is once begun, never leave it 'til it's done. Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all." From day one, we were taught to give 100 percent and to always do our best regardless of how big or small the project was we were working on.
Farm life opened up many opportunities for serving others. My grandpa got a twinkle in his eye when he talked about being the neighborhood "corn fairy." When they had an abundance of sweet corn in the fields, he would bag it up and drop it off at night to the homes of his neighbors. It made him so happy to serve. Service was always seen as a privilege and never a burden.
Deal with disappointment
Many times on the farm, even when you give your best effort, things don't go in your favor. Mother Nature can be unpredictable and crops can be ruined and animals can be lost to unexpected storms or other events. I was taught that life is not easy and when disappointment comes, you pick yourself up and try again.
While working with animals and farm equipment, you learn to speak your mind. Everyone who knew my grandpa knew that he spoke his mind without hesitation. He was never afraid to stick up for something that he believed in, whether sharing his personal views on life or his faith in God.
Work hard and be responsible
I've never met a person who works harder than my father. From sun up to sun down and sometimes all through the night he works to complete his responsibilities. I've never heard him complain. My grandpa always quoted his father in saying that, "It is better to wear out than to rust out."
You reap what you sow
In farming, you get out of it what you put into it. When you plant with high quality seed, you receive a higher quality harvest. When you dedicate your time to doing a job correctly, without cutting corners, you are more likely to get your desired results. I've learned in life that the results I get out of anything are based directly on the efforts I put into it.
Plan for the future
Farming is a gamble. Some years are great and some years Mother Nature steps in and a whole crop can be ruined. My dad always taught us to plan for the future and save our money in times of plenty. Unexpected things can happen so be prepared just in case.
Be smart with your money
Along the lines of planning for the future, I was taught to be smart with the money that I have. My grandpa always said, "Don't buy things you don't need, with money you don't have, to impress people you don't like." He lived a very simple life and saved his money and paid cash for most everything. My father has the same mentality. He taught us to be patient and save up for big purchases so we would never have to worry about having overwhelming debt to others.
Always look for ways to improve
Every year my father looks for ways to improve his methods of farming. Although he has been farming his entire life, he still studies all of the latest research to find more successful techniques. I have learned to always be looking for ways to improve my life and to be a life-long learner of new things.
Have faith and be optimistic
If there is one great lesson I have learned from being raised on a farm it is that there are many situations that are out of your hands. Different seasons bring different results. In farming, a late snowstorm can wipe out the chance of a good harvest and some years will bring nothing but disappointment. But there is always next year. When we are going through difficult times, we can have faith that God is mindful of what we are experiencing and may be preparing us for a new season in our life. If we keep going, and walk by faith, He will help us through the storms and lead us to brighter days ahead.
Now that I am grown and have children of my own I am grateful for these life lessons I learned while growing up on the farm. Even though my boys only get to visit the farm occasionally, I know they are learning these same lessons through the example that their grandpa continues to show.