For three years now our family has been “pen pals” with multiple ninth grade English Literature classes in the Burnsville/Savage school district (a suburban district near us). We love getting these letters because they open our eyes to what students their age understand about farmers, farms and where their food comes from. Over the next couple days and weeks I will answer several of the students’ questions here on our blog. Maybe these are questions that you have too.
Do farmers take vacations?
This is the most frequent question we get asked each year. Similar questions we get asked are if we ever have free time and what we do with our free time.
Yes, we do get vacation time and we do have some free time. Each of us enjoys different things in our free time.
One week each summer our family rents a cabin in a resort with the rest of Jon’s family. While most of the relatives go all week, our family must split the week. Jon and Lisa go 3.5 days and we (Tim and Emily) go 3.5 days. You maybe be wondering what the half day is. We time it so that one of us does morning chores and milking on the middle day and then sets off for vacation. At the same time the other couple leaves vacation and is home in time for evening chores and milking. Sometimes we have been lucky enough to have trustworthy employees who can “hold down the fort” for a day. That way we can have one day with the entire family.
Lisa and Erik on vacation in 2009
In addition to the large family vacation, each of us have opportunities to take short two day trips throughout the year. Often these trips are to farming conferences and trade shows. Sometimes we take trips to go camping, skiing or other fun family activities. Our farm is large enough to be financially able to hire two part time employees. This allows one family the opportunity to leave for a short time.
Every day our animals need caring for and our cows need to be milked twice each day. This does not stop, ever. On most days, between morning and evening chores and milkings, fields need to be planted or harvest, machinary needs to be fixed, manure needs to be composted, and other farm upkeep tasks need to be preformed. This doesn’t leave much free time and working days are often 12-14 hours each day. But, we do set aside time each day to eat meals as a family. When the weather is nice, our children are able to join us while doing chores and we turn this into “family” time. We also set aside the time between chores on Sunday for church and family time. Sunday is our day of rest.
Now, that all sounds really horrible to someone who is use to paid vacations and long weekends, but our arrangement does have some benefits. While we do have necessary tasks each day, sometimes we take advantage of being our own bosses and take a day off to go do something fun. For example, Jon and Tim went to a Twin’s noon baseball game on Thursday.
A farmers’ work is hard, but we do take time to be with our families, enjoy our hobbies and travel.