Elderly woman working on a sewing machine.
Country Living,  Family,  Farm Families,  Intentionality,  Personal

Inbetween Milkings: How to Create Quality Time on the Farm

Being a farm kid was always an adventure. Between juggling school, sports, debate (yup, I was a debater!) and all the other things, we always tried to make sure to spend quality time together as a family… even with milking two times a day.

Now, it might sound easy to spend time together; you make a plan and follow it. However, if you live or lived on a farm, you know things do not always go as planned. A water pipe breaks and floods the barn. A tire blows to shreds on a chopper box. A cow gets sick with milk fever. It rains.

I could go on, but I think you get the gist! Farm life, as lovely as it is, can be rather unpredictable. Now that I am no longer living on the farm, I only have limited amounts of time for the visit, and not an unlimited amount of time like I did when I was a kid. That dash of unpredictability can thwart a weekend without a thought.

Woman cutting material for a quilt.
Grandma literally said, “Do not cut any paper with those, they are my good scissors!”

Over the last few years, however, I have been able to see and experience life as the “visiting farm kid” and I have learned a few things that can help just about anyone who is planning to visit your farming relatives.

First: Plan Ahead – I know this sounds counterintuitive to what I just said about unpredictability, but we will get back to that. My point is that you should decide what exactly you want to do well before the date rolls around. My parents and I have conversations well in advance of my visits about what we want to do while I am there.

For example, this past weekend I had it worked out with my Mom and Grandma that I wanted to work on a t-shirt quilt project Grandma and I started years ago. We decided that the sewing should be done at the farm, as there is a large table in the dining room that would allow us to lay the whole thing out and give Grandma space to do her magic. So, Dad and I did chores in the morning and Mom picked up Grandma and her sewing machine. Grandma and I got started re-remembering what we had started so long ago. Then I flitted between her and my Mom, who was making chicken dumpling soup. Grandma and I were able to nearly finish the whole quilt before I went back to the barn with Dad in the evening.

Woman working on a sewing machine.

This is just a basic example, as we do a lot of different things during our visits like go to the movies, play board games, go to the local pumpkin patch, visit the local brewery, cook a meal, go swimming and so much more. The key is that we knew well in advance what we were doing. By having a plan, this allows myself, Mom and Dad to anticipate as much as possible.

Second: Show Up With Love – As much as we plan our time together, be it going somewhere, entertaining visiting relatives or friends, celebrating a holiday or doing some projects at the farm, things go wrong. My advice to you is don’t be disappointed if you don’t get to do the fun thing you have planned because something went awry in the barn or out in the fields. Because… We can improvise!

  • Can’t get to the movie on time? Set up a family fave in the house with a lot of buttery popcorn.
  • Didn’t make it to town for shopping and drinks? Wait until after evening chores and go!
  • Lost the time needed to go to the local lake for a swim? Set up a pool or sprinkler in the yard and have a picnic!

There are so many things you can do to still have fun with the fam when things go wrong on the farm. Show up with love and understanding, and you might just have more fun doing your improvised plan than the original!

Woman mixing dough in a black and white photo.
Ma making the best dumplings in the world!

The Lesson I’m Learning – What truly matters here is that you are putting thought and creativity into your time on the farm. Honestly though, even if it is just a quiet visit, some of the best memories can be had with a good meal at the kitchen table or by helping out with the chores in the barn. My most memorable and lively conversations always happen with my parents ON THE FARM because we make it a point to have open, loving and honest conversations that a lot of times get silly and leave us in tears from laughing so hard.

The point is, even if you don’t spend time on farms, by creating space for intentional time with your family, even if it changes at the last minute, you can have a wonderful time and cultivate your relationships.

What things do you like to do with your family and friends? Do you have a go-to activity or do you like to switch it up? I’d love to hear all about it!

Elderly woman working with sewing materials.

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