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How to Spot Happiness: The Life Of A Farm Girl

By Student Blogger Jada Hartman

I was seven years old at the time, and I had just come home with my mom from school and my dad said to me, “Jada, I have something I need to show you. You will love it.” We hopped in the side-by-side and headed to the calving lot where we kept the cows until they calved before moving them into another pasture. We slowly drove up to this newborn calf lying on the ground while its mother stood beside it, making sure it stayed safe. I looked at it closely and thought, “Oh boy, that’s the cutest calf I have ever seen.” It had two very noticeable white spots on each side of its forehead, uniform in spacing and distance from the ears. I looked up at my dad with pure joy and enthusiastically asked, “Dad, is it a heifer? Is it?” My dad just smiled and at that moment, I knew it was a heifer.

I asked my dad to take me to see her everyday, and just like that, I owned my first cow. I named her Spots. To date, she’s had nine calves, six bulls, and three heifers. Spots turns 11 this spring, and that is getting up there for a cow. In a field, she will hear my voice and in an instant, you will see her running to greet me thinking I have brought her cow cake.

Every awesome experience of owning a new animal came with some standoffs with my parents. Eighteen years of yelling, fighting, and well...happiness. Living on a farm and ranch is just as exciting as it sounds. From waking up to go cut wheat to falling asleep watching a newly born calf, there is really not much more a girl could ask for. Every season brings a different way of life. Every week could be completely different than the week before, and every year is always extravagantly different than the previous one. It never gets boring out in the middle of nowhere either. Growing up on a farm and ranch has offered many opportunities to expand my knowledge in areas that I am passionate about.

Living out of town has opened many opportunities for me. One of the best opportunities rural living brings me is the change to raise and show 4-H animals. I have been a member of 4-H for nine years. This program is the most amazing way to learn leadership, to learn responsibilities, and to meet new people that may become lifelong friends. At the age of nine, I was able to raise a market animal and take it to the Central Montana Fair to show it and sell it in the 4-H Livestock Sale. My parents had convinced me that a calf was too big for me, and that I needed to start a little smaller. My brothers had both taken pigs, so that was what I knew best. As a little girl, I just wanted the cutest one. We were able to pick from another 4-H members’ piglets, and of course, I chose the smallest one that weighed about 30 pounds at the time. From the moment my brothers and I got our pigs, we were responsible for other lives. Every day we would need to make sure the pigs had fresh food, clean water, and a clean pen, but we also needed to express compassion towards them and get to know them.

As I got older, the animals I took to fair got bigger. October is always the beginning of the relationship between me and a 750 pound steer. Besides taking care of him, I try to develop our connection. Every year, by the time fair comes around, my steers, now weighing 1,400 pounds, allow me to lay on them. Everything about a steer makes my heart happy. After spending a lot of time with you, they know your voice, your smell, and the way you walk. The hardest part about raising a steer, is knowing that after nine months of working with them, you have to load them up in the trailer to be put into meat for consumption. Since my first steer, it has become harder and harder to let go each year. These calves have become part of me and have played a big role in my experience with 4-H and with living on a ranch.

Growing up in the middle of nowhere has many more opportunities than the common eye can see. It has taught many things that I wouldn’t learn from a normal education. Every season changes drastically for a farmer. It has taught me responsibility, understanding, and love that one can thrive off. It may not always be peaceful and quiet on a farm and ranch, but it is the experience of a lifetime.