The wheat is greening, the fruit trees are blooming and spring planting is in full swing. One day the temperatures reached nearly 90 degrees, and then two days later we received a dusting of snow. Needless to say, it’s all part of spring in Kansas!
While looking at the calendar to mark the first day of corn planting, I quickly realized that we have officially hit the one-month mark until school is out for the summer. The days of my two kids home all day are upon us, and I couldn’t be more excited!
They have a garden to help maintain, livestock to care for, swimming lessons to complete, little league practices and games to go to, library programming to attend, wheat harvest to help with, and 4-H projects to complete. It’s safe to say I plan to have an enriching summer with my kids while also taking care of our responsibilities on the farm.
The garden has been prepared, and it’s now ready for two children to help manage. The kids have had a say in the seeds selected. They have helped plan the way the water will get to the growing plants. My two children have been given full reign of the garden space. They are free to dig and rake and water (with my oversight) to their choosing. Yes, weeding will also be a priority, but with their own garden tools, a radio playing music, and ownership in the space, I envision this summer gardening to be a fun experience that will perhaps incorporate more vegetables into my children’s picky food preferences. At the least, I hope my two will have a few garden entries at the local fair later this summer.
While on summer break, the livestock will get even more attention from my children. My son’s cow and calf will soon return to the pasture near our home. Ensuring the animals have access to water daily and an occasional serving of range cubes will be a priority for my boy. He knows his cow is already bred and will deliver a calf later this fall. He also knows it is his responsibility to care for and observe his animals daily to ensure they also have a good summer on the farm as he anticipates another calf to add to his herd later this year.
The sheep have already been released into their summer grazing space after the kids helped their grandpa build the fence. A breeding harness with a blue crayon has also been put on the ram that we recently introduced to the ewes. Soon, we will hopefully begin seeing signs in the form of blue marks on the backs of the females indicating the arrival of lambs later this fall. My two children will be responsible for helping keep watch over the ewes daily and note when a blue mark appears on another member of the flock in anticipation of lambing season.
Physical activity will also be key to being home this summer. Organized time at the swimming pool as well as ball practices and games will keep my kids moving (and decrease screen time) while also having fun with friends.
Fun will also be had with friends as my children participate in our public library’s summer program in town as well as during sessions with others to work on completing their 4-H projects.
And we can’t forget about the wheat harvest we will all focus on when the time comes this summer. My two will assist me with making and delivering meals to the field, helping deliver truckloads of grain to the local elevator, and sitting in the buddy seats next to their dad and grandpa as the combines work through fields.
It’s safe to say we have a full summer planned that will keep my kids’ minds engaged, their bodies active, and their relationships nurtured, while also providing them with opportunities that will help them understand the importance of fulfilling responsibilities on the farm.
Kim Baldwin is a McPherson County farmer. “Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.