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Before we bought our first place, I asked our realtor if it was worth it.  Basically, the majority of our income from our day jobs was going to go to purchasing and then improving our piece of land.  We would have work to do in the morning, our jobs to go to, and then chores to get done in the evening and on weekends.  I wanted him to tell me. . .  well, honestly at the time I wanted him to tell me we were definitely headed in the right direction and if we could swing it for a few years, we were going to make it big.  We are hardworking, honest people, so why not?  That’s not what he said.  Instead, he said, “You can’t think of it as being ‘worth it’.  You’re buying a way of life.  It’s hard and will take up all your time.  But it’s the lifestyle.”  So, we jumped.

As it turns out, I love raising ranch kids.  The work ethic they have the potential to be exposed to at such a young age is astounding.  As parents it is easy to implement chores and responsibility as the work after and before school can be endless.  Bum calves, lambs, chickens, rabbits, dogs, cows, hauling hay, feeding, farming, swathing, and the list goes on and on.  The best thing about raising kids in this environment for me is teaching my kids that their work can be fun.  Yeah, they have to clean their rooms and pick up the dishes, but they also get to have pet calves, cows that eat cake out of their hands, tractors to drive, and, my daughters favorite—horses to ride.  Now,  I realize they may not always love it, but they will at least get a feel of loving what they do and learn what it means work toward a goal not only as an individual person in the family, but as the whole family rather than just putting in their time to get a paycheck. 

My seven year old daughter, Emma, brought this all to light this past weekend.  Thursday evening while we were eating dinner, Emma told us she was worried that Music, her horse, was upset with her as he wouldn’t let her go up to him.  She was sure that the reason was that she had not been riding him much lately and told her dad that she needed to go riding soon.  Larry told her he would take her riding Saturday to doctor some calves.  Friday, I was eavesdropping on her talking to a friend.  They were trying to plan a sleepover for the weekend.  The deal breaker—Emma wouldn’t go until after she went riding.  “I have to go riding Saturday morning and help my dad doctor some calves.  It shouldn’t take long.  I can go after that.”  No prompting from parents, no fighting about work before play, just the instinct that her horse needed some attention and she had already committed to a job.  God love her, she makes me so proud.  And this life, or should I say lifestyle, is definitely worth it. 

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