Have you ever heard that phrase, were you raised in a barn? Or more commonly, were you born in a born? Whenever I heard that it was usually coming from my mom or dad and it meant I had done some sort of common, easy chore or daily activity in a sloppy way. I would hear that and cringe, “crap, I must have left the back door wide open” or “yes, those were my dirty dishes and leftovers from making lunch you found all over the kitchen.”
Our kids are now 3 years old and 1 1/2 years. I haven’t had to use that phrase on them yet, I’m saving it for when they’re older. But I’ve been thinking about that phrase, raised in a barn, lately. It must be all the baby pig chores the kids and I have been doing in the evenings. You see, unlike me, my kids will sort of be raised in a barn. Between time spent in the hog barn from time spent in the barns with the cattle, our kids even being so little, could be poster children of being raised in a barn.
Let’s rewind a little bit, and review, our kids are 3 and 1 1/2 years old. They are little. I’ve had several people ask me, “why do you take the kids in the barns all the time with you?” Or, maybe a little more politely, some say, “how do you take the kids in the barns with you?”
So for you, a new mama who may be ready to get back in the barns, little ones in tow, here are my tips to “raising little’s in a barn.”
- Get an infant carrier. For goodness sake, what a lifesaver when you are trying to work with a little one who can’t even walk yet. Also, let’s face it, when you walk in with your baby to a barn full of 4000 baby pigs, it can be overwhelming. Your little one will feel much safer and ease into this barn life snuggled in close to you. We have one carrier that is soley designated for the hog barn and was generously passed onto us from a fellow hog farmer whose kids had outgrown it.
2. Make it a priority to take your kids with you when doing chores. I can nearly see my in laws house from where we live and my own parents live only 20 minutes away. I know either set of grandparents would drop everything to come help with the kids while we chored our animals in “peace.” But my farmer and I have made it a point to take our little one’s with us. Sure, I could get through my evening chores a heck of a lot faster if I wasn’t carrying a tired 1 year old through and waiting for my 3 year old to hop every gate BY HIMSELF, in no way may I help him over those gates either and make things move along faster.. What I’m saying is be strong, it can be tough taking the little ones with you, sure does slow down the choring process but these barns, these animals, are as much about our kids as they are us.
So many teachable moments happen in a barn, don’t miss out on those, your kids will thank you one day.
3. You know your kids best, so plan ahead. I always make sure my kids have taken their naps before we run and go do chores. I also make sure they’ve got snacks and drinks for after chores. This post chore snack time is when I usually am finishing up paperwork in the control room, bleaching our boots, or doing a little cleaning in the control room.
4. Give your kids a sense of purpose when they’re in the barn. Before we go in, I always remind our 3 year old how he is my best helper, his little sister is his shadow and usually is standing right beside when I’m giving him this pep talk. I remind him how I need him to help me get the baby pigs up, spread feed on the mats and look for any pigs who may seem sick. Seems a little overwhelming for a 3 year old? Maybe the typical 3 year old, but mama, you’re raising a farm kid. Most days, they’ve got strength and drive beyond their peers. Our 3 year old walks right into that barn with confidence and a sense of purpose. He confidently walks around the pens and wakes up the baby pigs, and more often than I have kept track of, he has pointed out a sick or weaker pig that he shows me needs to be moved to the small pen. It will make you incredibly proud as a mother to see your little one’s take that initiative and again, life lessons are being taught in the barn.
5. Don’t forget to teach being safe around the pigs. Or for that matter, whatever livestock you’re working with. When our pigs our little, our little kids are with us all the time in the barns. But remember, when a feeder pig is full grown, they can weigh upwards of 270lbs! You better believe that this momma isn’t letting her babies in those pens with pigs that size. So, once our pigs get to a certain size, the littles and I sort of bow out of helping with pigs chores. We let our farmer take over completely, until the next round of baby pigs come in. Sometimes, our 3 year old still get’s to go with dad when the pigs are bigger but he walks the aisle ways and is content just being with dad. You’ll know mama, but keep your babies safe always around livestock. And as confident as our 2 kiddos are around cattle and pigs, we still try and maintain a healthy sense of fear around the livestock, for safety of course.
6. Be patient. Choring is going to take a whole lot longer with your little one’s tagging along. Many lessons can be taught in a barn, patience on your end, may be one of the first.
If you’re a farm mom like me, and you’ve been stuck away from chores too long, my encouragement to you is, get ready for choring to be a little tricker but go get yourself back in the barn, little ones in tow! Personally, I would rather spend an afternoon in the barn with our pigs or cattle verus mopping floors at our house.
Are you a farm mom with little ones that chore with you? What advice do you have? All of these tips are related back to raising hogs, I hope no matter what livestock you raise, you can take some of this advice and tweak it to fit your little one’s in relation to the livestock you raise.