2018-08-16 / Viewpoint

Down on the Farm

Ben Gagnon — Staff writer

For much of my life, I’ve had the privilege of living on a family farm. More specifically, a 10-acre spread tucked away in the countryside of Lapeer County.

Down on the Gagnon farm, my folks and I have raised miniature horses, chickens and a tribe of barn cats. We’ve also tended to a large vegetable garden and, at times, an apple orchard in our backyard.

From a young age, I learned the values of hard work, responsibility and dedication. Twice a day, I helped to feed the animals, fill up their water tanks and—yes—muck the stalls. When I grew older, my workload came to include mending fences, taking the horses out to pasture and stacking hay in scorching 90-degree heat.

Apart from the chores, farming has given me ample time to bond with the animals under my family’s care. I relished (and still relish) seeing their individual personalities come alive, particularly the antics that our mischievous mini horses pull. Above all, I appreciate the love that our barnyard family has shown to us over the years.

Another plus of living on a farm is having access to fresh vegetables. We don’t have a garden this year, but in years past we’ve harvested gigantic zucchini, juicy tomatoes and shiny peppers. Of course, it’s a ton of work to keep the garden watered and weed-free, but the benefits of consuming homemade tomato sauce and stuffed peppers is well-worth it.

Then there’s the clean air and tranquil scenery that country living itself provides. I consider myself fortunate to see all sorts of wildlife every day, such as deer dashing through the fields and great blue herons gliding overhead. Skyscrapers and LED billboards are cool, but I must admit that I find rows of cornfields and pastureland more inviting to come home to.

That all being said, the country farm life is not always easy. It demands a great deal of commitment to keep things running smoothly, especially in the extremes of summer and winter. Between the seemingly endless repairs and runs to the feed store, farming can sometimes be frustrating.

But living on a farm also supplies special moments, such as witnessing the birth of a foal or the hatching of chicks. There’s also plenty of stories to glean from over the years—not to mention a steady supply of conversation starters.

At the end of the day, growing up on the farm has helped me to develop certain skills, while giving me a love for animals and nature. Outside of my regular job, I still pitch in to help my folks. After all, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.

On that thought, let’s tip our caps to area farmers and ranchers, who keep farming traditions alive and infuse our local economy with crops and livestock. Genesee County wouldn’t be the same without them.

Ben Gagnon is a reporter for View Newspaper Group. You can contact him at 810-452-2661 or bgagnon@mihomepaper.com

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