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The tumultuous ways that the current situation has changed our lives has surprised us all. Our normal day-to-day existence has shut down. Events and programs have canceled, and social distancing is our new way of life. During this pandemic, people are wading into unknown territories and finding a new normal.
One of the biggest shocks to everyday life came when Arkansas schools closed their physical doors. Teachers quickly adopted a virtual learning approach and are working diligently to serve Arkansas youth.
Many students are at home with families more than they ever have been, and a few reports have come out about boredom and discontent.
But Arkansas farm children are anything but bored; their parents are taking full advantage of having them at home. I asked some rural Arkansas families what their kids were up to.
Several children have started working with their livestock animals to get ready for the livestock showing season in the fall. Showing market animals at the fair is no small task. It takes a lot of time working with the animals, determination, scheduling and knowledge of science.
The upkeep of farm acreage takes a lot of work. If we let the work slide, an agricultural property could quickly be taken over by thistles and thorns.
Where there are cows and horses, there are fences. Where there are fences, there are repairs to be made. Mending fences is a good way to get in some good old-fashioned work education. To build a work ethic, mend a fence.
The task of getting a garden ready is often left to the grown-ups. But with extra time at home, farm families have handed over to children the task of planting seeds and caring for them. This sounds like science to me.
Children are heading outside to do a little fishing and put supper on the table.
Country kids love to explore the woods on their family’s property. It takes effort to clear those secret paths through the trees. Right now, farm families are building new paths on their properties that lead to treasured spots perfect for family picnics.
Arkansas farm kids are taking a bigger role in the farm chores by taking their turns to feed the animals.
Arkansas farm kids are taking their PE class to a whole new level by working on their agility and cardiovascular health as they play tag on the hay bales.
Swimming pools and lakes are closed. Backyard creeks are not. Farm kids are working on their water skills by heading out the back door and down to the creek. While there, they also practice rock-skipping, turtle wrangling and tadpole harvesting. They take tadpoles home to learn about the life cycle of a frog by building a tadpole farm. (When those tadpoles morph into frogs, they will be released back into the wild.)
This extra time is allowing kids to pack up some belongings in a backpack and head out to explore the off-beaten path with bikes as transportation.
Sometimes the chickens on the farm do not cooperate. Children are learning to help them get back in their coop.
No coronavirus will stop farm kids from practicing southern hospitality. They still deliver their farm fresh eggs to the neighbors; they simply get creative on how to accomplish this. To honor the social distancing mandates, they deliver by riding a four-wheeler through the backfields and leave the eggs on neighbors’ porches.
Wood stoves keep a lot of farm families warm in the winter. To enjoy that direct source of heat in cold months, the work has to be done ahead of time.
Arkansas farm families are resilient and creative. While we pray for the safety of our state and nation and await a return to normal, we do hope that your family is enjoying a slower pace of life and more time together as we all try to navigate this situation.
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