My Farm Roots: Farm kids’ big life lesson

July 25, 2015, 8:35 a.m. ·

The Renyers raise a herd of goats for livestock competitions, and for meat. (Photo by Peggy Lowe, Harvest Public Media)

Listen To This Story

For this year’s My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media is sharing stories from farm kids about what it’s like growing up in a changing rural America. Midwest kids have a strong connection to the land, and in farm country, roots run deep.

Farm dog? Check.

Barn cats? Check.

Muddy work books lined up at the back door? Five checks.

We kick off our fourth season of “My Farm Roots” with the Renyer Family, five farm kids I had the pleasure of meeting last week.

On their farm in Nemaha County, Kansas, the Renyer kids are growing up surrounded by animals of all kinds. (Photo by Peggy Lowe, Harvest Public Media)

This is the first of six “My Farm Roots” our Harvest Public Media reporters are doing this summer. If you are interested in sharing your own story about being a farm kid, click here to submit your tale.

Or visit our previous years’ pieces, click here.

Driving onto the Renyer farm, out in Nemaha County, Kan., I was struck by the many classic examples of a farm family. After being met by the family dog, a very sweet boy named Salty, I watched as the barn cats scattered and I met Leah coming out the back door, where the knee-high work boots were standing guard.

I was greeted by Mary Renyer, the mom, then introduced to her five kids still at home. (The oldest, Kayla, 21, is married and starting a farm of her own.)

Megan, 19, was home from college and told me about driving a semi to Topeka about two dozen times already this summer to “dump corn.” (Translation: taking corn stored on the farm in grain bins to the local elevator to sell.)

Eric, 16, said he was on call 24-7 for his dad this summer – that is, between basketball camps and games.

Leah, 12, was getting stuck with lots of the housework and still hadn’t decided on the name of her new kitten, tucked away in the garage.

Luke, 8, was working on a 4-H project with help from Megan.

We talked about several subjects – I was a little nervous I might not get a enough time, as they had to get to swimming practice at noon. But we covered most things and found a lot in common.

What you’ll hear in the piece posted above is something that my city kid friends don’t understand. It’s about how we get used to the fact, pretty early, that pets often are lost or picked off by prey or are sold off or become something wrapped up in white paper and placed in the freezer. (Yep, happened to me and my calf, Susie. A long time ago, of course.)

Share your story: What is it like to be farm kid? Share your Farm Roots story here.

Click here to see more My Farm Roots stories.