Dirty Life

Mary - Menomonie, Wisconsin
Entered on April 8, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I’ve learned that mud makes you more than just dirty; it makes you who you are. I grew up a farm girl, almost always covered in mix of mud and cow manure. I was constantly at my father’s side in the barn. I learned at a very young age what hardships are by watching my mother pinch pennies by growing an immense garden and buying the off brand cheaper products. I also saw my dad continue to work with a broken bone because the cows weren’t going to milk themselves, and we needed the money.

Even at the age of three I had responsibilities. I helped with the milking, bottle fed the calves, and poured out the grain for the cows. I spent as many waking moments in the barn as I could. No matter what other fun thing I could do in the house, I would find some way to get back to the cows. I am an only child, so for me the barn was a safe haven of other warm bodies to mingle amongst.

I am a true animal lover with some off the wall quirks. I am also a hunter, but I am careful to not take out fawns. I am not a vegetarian, but you will never see me eating veal. I will never go out of my way to hit a cat with car, but I will not get worked up about seeing one on the side of the road. When you grow up around the farm life, you learn to toughen up. If a cow breaks its leg, you take it out back and shoot it. When a cat gets distemper, you place it away from the other cats and let it die.

These are things that many others may not agree with, but in the scheme of things, if there is no money to get the cow or cat vet attention then what else is there to do? Learning that life happens and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it can be learned while picking out the perfect dried cow pie to fling at your cousin! Growing up on the farm has made me realize that money is not very important past the fact of keeping you fed, clothed, and sheltered.

Keeping a level head in bad situations, knowing that breaking a fingernail is not the end of the world, and knowing that life will be okay no matter what happens all are lessons I learned on a farm. When a storm takes out an essential crop to sustain the herd, you find ways to pick up the slack. When a good milking cow goes dry, life will continue.

I believe that growing up covered in mud doesn’t mean that you are poor, it sometimes makes you richer in spirit than anyone else.