Editor's note: I wrote this in 2005. I completely forgot I wrote it, but received a notification that a legacy blogger account would be deleted unless I migrated the info. So I'm migrating it here! And even though it's -- wow 18 years old -- I still feel the same way.
Never just a former farm girl
by Dawn Smith-Pfeifer
I grew up on a farm. Although I'm now physically "big city" (or as "big city" as you can get in North Dakota) and have been since leaving home for college, I am and always will be emotionally tied to the rolling pastures, the beauty of a black sky full of stars, the smell of fresh-turned dirt and the dusty sunsets of a fall harvest.
Why is it that so many of us can't really appreciate rural and farm living until we are no longer a part of it? Growing up, I remember complaining about how much luckier the kids living in town were, because they could run over and play with the neighbor kids any time they wanted, or go to the Tastee-Freez and get a cone, or run to the swimming pool any time they wanted.
Our nearest neighbors lived a mile away, so you couldn't just stand outside and holler across the fence, "Hey wanna play?" and then run off and do just that. It required permission from your own parent first (which was often turned down) and if you crossed that hurdle, then it required permission from the playmate's parent. If that too, was granted, a "how do I get there?" negotiation had to be struck.
Yes, it was a tremendously difficult and horrible life. We couldn't run down to the local restaurant and play video games like the town kids. We couldn't just walk downtown to go to the umpteenth matinee showing of Bedknobs and Broomsticks. No. We had to entertain ourselves and each other by building rafts that did more sinking than floating. We had to build forts in the trees. We had to catch minnows in the coulee and try to make them into our pet fish.
I get kind of sad when I think of how far removed even my children are from the agricultural lifestyle I grew up with. And that's just one generation. Of course, like me, they probably wouldn't have appreciated it until they got to be "old like me."
And now that I'm old, I realize that kids who don't have a chance to spend time on a farm are missing a lot. Last summer, my son got to spend a week with grandma and grandpa on the farm, and although we missed him, he enjoyed himself. A lot. In fact, for about a week after he got home, he talked about how much he missed the kitties.
Everyone should get a chance to spend a week at a farm. It gives you a better perspective on life. It gets you in touch with the natural rhythm of life. The living and the dying. The spring and the fall. The beginning and the ending.
Dawn is the NDFB Director of Content and Communications and has been with the organization since 1985. The header photo is from 1974 and features one of the family dogs at the time, Sparky, standing in the front yard of the farm house Dawn called home.