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Kids and Chores

Life Lessons Learned on the Ranch

Chores, in an ideal world, teach kids the benefit of hard work, but the word itself holds an undercurrent of difficulty and unpleasantness. On the ranch however, this seems to be less true. Sure there are always days when you have to make kids go out and do things they do not want to do, but on a ranch, chores become less about teaching kids how to do things, and more about instilling values.

The ranch, according to local rancher and mother Kadie Sorenson, has many moving parts. There is never a shortage of things that need to get done, which makes chores an essential component of ranch life, and kids an essential component of chores.

“Ranching is for the kids,” Kadie explains, who has three kids with her husband Jarvis–Tel who is 12, Stran who is 9 and Kally who is 8.

“In a way, the kids run the ranch, but more than that ranching is how we teach our children about family and how to do things together.”

It is not just running the rake or graining, it is the act of going through the seasons of ranching as a family. If Kadie and her husband Jarvis are riding horses or selling calves, the kids are there too. If its time to vaccinate, the kids help.

“There are no lists or special assignments,” states Kadie. “Whatever we are doing, the kids are taking part. If it’s calving time, the kids get out and help tag. If it’s haying time, not everyone can run equipment, but everyone can do something, even it it’s house chores.”

The ranch shows that chores provide an opportunity for parents to spend time with their kids. More than getting things done, chores allow parents to teach their kids to come along and help them, to give them a pat on the back and even let them make mistakes and learn that that’s part of life too.

“There are days when I do not want to be out doing chores with the kids,” emphasizes Kadie. “But they want you to be out there with them. They just want you there.”

Chores also involve a process and a progression on the ranch. According to Kadie, her oldest son has spent a lot of time with Jarvis in the tractor and now he runs the rake. Their middle son will be turning nine this year and it will soon be his turn to learn, and their youngest will follow her own path as well.

“The kids are all different,” states Kadie. “And they have different interests. Our oldest wanted to learn the rake sooner than our middle son, and our daughter is very different from her brothers. You have to pay attention to where they are and what they want to do, while at the same time keeping them involved in what is going on.”

One way Kadie does this is by reminding her kids what they accomplish as a family.

“We try to teach them the end product,” states Kadie. “Our hard work puts beef in the freezer and we supply the world with that.”

Another thing that helps Kadie instill these lessons and values is the program 4-H. This is the first year that all of Kadie’s kids are involved, which means that all three of her children have a steer to care for, and it is their responsibility.

So in December, when the steers need to be fed and it’s cold outside, Kadie tells her kids that no matter what, two kids go out and grain. “Everyday. No arguing.”

“We use their life to teach them about taking care of the ranch,” states Kadie. “We ask them, ‘Did you have a snack? Your steer needs one too.’ We stress that horses are not cheap, but they are these really cool animals that have a way of touching you. We ask the kids, ‘Did you eat breakfast today? You need to make sure your horse eats too.’”

Then at the county fair in July, when the kids do well and they have put the hard work in, Kadie and Jarvis can remind their kids that their hard work paid off. Not only that, but because they have put hard work into learning the responsibilities of the ranch, when Kadie and Jarvis need another cowboy, the kids can be there. When a neighbor needs help, they can borrow one of Kadie and Jarvis’ children.

“They don’t always want to do it, but they appreciate doing it,” Kadie stresses. “And when you’re an adult, you don’t remember the not-wanting-to part. You just remember the good.”

The summer is approaching and Kadie just recently cleaned out some of the kids’ school papers. In the stack she found that all three of her children had drawn a picture that said they wanted to be a rancher when they grew up.

“You know it’s getting passed on and that is what we ultimately want for our kids,” states Kadie. “And hopefully, someday, they will pass it on to their kids.”


Written by Kate Ruggles


Kate Ruggles is a writer living in Watford City with her husband and two kids. She can be reached by email at

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