That’s right, I was raised in a barn. A 100-cow freestall barn to be exact.

Don’t get me wrong; I lived in a house with my own bedroom, watched cartoons on Saturday mornings, ate meals as a family around the dinner table and went to school during the week. I was an ordinary kid. The only difference was my parents were dairy farmers, and therefore, I spent a lot of time at the farm, in the barn.

The barn is not a bad place to be, nor is it a bad place to be raised. Children learn many important life lessons on the farm, not to mention a strong work ethic that I think is nearly extinct in most children and teens today. Farm kids obtain a great deal of responsibility and pride from feeding calves and milking cows. They also learn traits such as compassion, patience, respect and persistence when working with animals and Mother Nature.

For example, I quickly learned respect for animals as a kid when a 1,000-pound cow accidently stepped on my toe. I also discovered confidence and persistence on the farm by teaching my calf to walk with a halter, and then humility when I placed dead last while showing her at the county fair.

Sometimes it’s the things a farm produces that we can’t see or taste that are the most important and impactful of all. Yeah, dairy farms take great pride in producing a wholesome and nutritious product, but their greatest crop is their children. I am thrilled to raise my kids on the farm.