In the circles I have traveled, I have often met people from many walks of life. I was raised on a large ranch, and I still live on a few acres in a farming community. I often associate with farmers, ranchers, and many people whose living comes from the land.
I have also worked in theater, business, scientific research, technology, and now at a university. In these areas I have associate with businessmen, professionals, professors, and administrators who have a wealth of knowledge and academic learning. These people of higher degrees have a diverse background, but often different from those I spend time with in the farming community. It is almost as if these people, though not far apart in distance, are miles apart in lifes experiences.
Interesting results can occur when people from one walk of life crosses the boundary into the other. Now and then I watch as someone experiences what it is like crossing those boundaries.
In one particular case, a highly educated couple we are friends with wanted to bring their two sons out to experience “where food comes from”. They had lived much of their lives in a big city, and had only recently moved to the area. The mother of the family was the product of three generations of city living. The father, though from a smaller town, was still not familiar with the world of agriculture.
They had read books and talked to their sons about farming, but that was as far as their experience went. When they were at a grocery store, they explained to their young sons that food actually is not grown in the supermarket, but is shipped there from farms. Their boys, eight and ten years old, were skeptical about this. Even though they now lived among fields of potatoes, wheat, and other crops, they could not imagine that something growing in the field could end up in an edible form on the shelf or in the refrigerator. One boy went as far as to question his fathers truthfulness when the father suggested that some of the wheat they saw growing could actually become part of a pizza. Surely pizza could not come from a farm.
Thus the parents decided to take advantage of their new surroundings and provide an opportunity for their sons to learn first hand. Knowing that I grow a lot of my own food, they called and asked if it would be all right if they brought their sons out to our small farm.
“Sure,” I told them. “Milking time is at 6:00, so why dont you come out at about 5:00.”
They arrived promptly, and we started off by taking them out to our large garden. They were able to pick and eat raspberries right off of the plants. They enjoyed this immensely. We also showed them how peas are grown, and had them eat some fresh from the pod. They had never eaten raw peas before, and one boy expressed his view that peas were “disgusting”. However, his father insisted he try one, and once he did, the young boy ate so many I thought he would clean out our whole patch.
We had strawberries, dug a few potatoes, and even showed them how corn grew in ears, though none were ripe enough to eat.
Eventually we moved to the animals. I prepared all of the milking buckets, and we made our way out to the barn. Our cow is very gentle, and I introduced her to them. She likes bread, so I gave each of them a slice to feed her. The boys were slightly grossed out when she licked them with her sandpaper tongue. That feeling only increased when, after she had licked them, she cleaned out her own nose with that same long tongue.
I tied her into her place in the barn, fed her grain, and then washed her. As I did, I talked about how she gave about three gallons per milking from which we made cheese and butter. I still dont think the boys grasped it all until the minute I started to stream the milk into the bucket. Suddenly, seeing the milk, they put it all together.
The younger boy looked as if he was going to hurl, while the older boy had a look of shock on his face as if he would eat his cereal dry for the rest of his life. Even the parents seemed less than enthusiastic. Though they had all known that milk came from cows, knowing it and seeing it can be quite different.
The older son expressed the opinion of all of them when he simply said, “You have got to be kidding!”
The younger one joined in. “Yeah. I dont think I ever want to drink milk again.”
I just laughed, enjoying their discomfort, and I decided to add to it. “Just wait til I show you where eggs come from!”