By Marci Narum
“You can take the girl off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the girl.”
I grew up on a farm 16 miles away from town where my friends lived. In the summer months, I envied their carefree existence: days spent at the pool or the lake. Granted, I got to enjoy time at the lake occasionally, but most summer days I was a typical farm kid—feeding calves and helping with other chores.
Mom raised chickens and turkeys, so a few times each summer, we were always up before the sun—and the flies—for a day of butchering. I helped Mom with gardening, canning, and baking. And just when I thought chores were done, the milk house or a grain bin needed a new coat of paint. (I would wonder, “Didn’t I paint that one last summer?”)
I couldn’t wait to be “off the farm” and free from all those chores. Then I could go to the lake and have fun anytime!
My interpretation of “you can’t take the farm out of the girl” was that no matter what I became or where I lived, I would still have a fondness for the country way of life—the animals, delicious homegrown food, and the smell of a freshly-mowed hayfield.
And boy, do I. In fact—now I miss it. But “the farm” is still part of this girl for much deeper reasons.
My mom showed me the value of hard work and seeing a job through—even when it’s something I don’t like. (I hated butchering chickens and cleaning out the chicken coop. Yuck.) I also learned we all have a responsibility to show up and do our part. And if you’re late, expect to deal with flies.
Mom trained me to be efficient and wise with my time. She got me up early every morning to do chores in the summer. I learned the sooner I get started on something, the sooner I can have the fun I’m looking forward to.
She taught me to give people more than they expect. My mom raised an incredible garden, and she still does. My garden “specialty” on the farm was corn, and I sold it to neighbors and friends from church; a dozen ears for $1. Mom said I should always add a couple extra ears with each dozen in case there might be a bad one in the bunch. I still find ways to practice this in my life.
I also value what Mom taught me about hospitality and caring for people. I learned my kitchen skills from her, and my favorite is baking. She taught me to bake or cook for others in times of grief or celebration. It’s how she tells people she loves them. A meal at the farm—whether it’s my husband, Jim, and me or the entire Narum family—is a huge testimony of love. If you stop at the farm, you can always count on a cup of coffee and her cookies (or pie, cake, homemade bread, or lefse).
Yes, you can take the girl off the farm—but her Mom can make sure the farm is part of the girl forever. I never imagined saying this, but thanks, Mom, for waking me up to butcher chickens.