I am a North Dakota farmer. I have two young children, and I’m trying to balance life and do the best for my children. Whether you live on the farm or in town, balance is essential.
I grew up on a farm ten miles away from a town with less than a thousand people. So, one could certainly say I grew up in a rural area. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. My childhood memories are filled with neighbor kids and whatever mischief we could get into on our farms.
Growing up we didn’t go on exotic vacations. Even some holidays were spent in the field. Now that I have my own family, Mother’s Day, my wedding anniversary, and Father’s Day are usually spent in the field. So why as a mom do I have such anxiety over my kids being “worldly?” I want them to have every opportunity to grow. I want them to be involved. I want to instill in them all of the values that I learned growing up on a farm. But I also want them to know they can be anything they want to be. But how will my kids know what they want to be/do if I don’t provide them the opportunities to experience life off the farm?
Farm life is a great life, don’t get me wrong, but for us it’s not quite that simple. You see, while we do live in the country, on what used to be an old farmstead, we don’t live ON our farm. Our farm is 35 miles away.
Sure, my kids have ridden in tractors, combines, grain trucks, semis and “helped” – I use this term very loosely here – check, move, and work cattle. This is where I know they’re learning the values I want them to hold.
Those specific opportunities are a bit unusual for my kids’ classmates. Their school is a combination of kids who live in one of the largest cities in North Dakota and kids who live in the country. Because of this, there are ample opportunities for my kids to be involved in off-farm activities.
Soccer, T-ball, cross-country, swim team, theater, choir, hockey, figure skating and basketball are just some of the activities offered for my children to participate in. This is in addition to church-related activities they can be involved in.
I don’t want my kids to feel left out. I want them to participate and experience all they can, but there must be a balance between their activities and our rural life.
Right now, it’s swimming. Next month it’s soccer. June and July bring T-ball. But for my husband and I, we also have garden work, calving and spring planting to worry about.
Life is busy. And farm life is crazy busy this time of the year because this is when the magic happens, but it also happens to be when everything else seems to happen for my kids as well. Slowly, we’re learning how we can balance our rural life with their urban opportunities to give them a well-rounded life.
Alysa Leier was elected to the Promotion and Education Committee chairmanship in 2016. As the P&E Chair, she represents that committee on the North Dakota Farm Bureau Board of Directors. Alysa and her husband, Dustin, raise beans, flowers, wheat, corn and cattle on their farm near Minot. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Minot State University and helps around the farm, driving tractor and combine. The Leiers have two children.