The Pinke Post: Farms are a great place to learn value of work

Yes, pick rocks. You might not know what that entails if you’re not from my part of the world. Our farm fields have rocks. There’s such thing as a rock picker implement pulled by a tractor – or you can have your kids do the heavy lifting and haul the big rocks to a pile at the edge of the field.

Katie Pinke, Agweek Publisher

Katie Pinke, Agweek Publisher

If you farm rock-free fields or there’s not a market for such labor, cleaning out grain bins is always a good job for kids. These days, automated vacuums take all the “fun” out of cleaning grain bins. However, on a hot day around 3 p.m., I recommend finding an older grain bin and putting your kids to work with shovels.

Picking rocks and shoveling out grain bins build character – or at least that was what I was told as a child and teenager. I didn’t believe it then, but I do now.

It’s why our son started working at our small business as a 12-year-old, tackling jobs such as sweeping, cleaning, putting away lumber, mowing the grass with a push mower and other jobs that didn’t involve equipment. He left early some afternoons for baseball games, but the next morning he clocked in before 8 a.m.

One of his first summers working at the lumberyard, Hunter saved $1,200 to buy the basketball hoop he wanted for our unheated shop. Year-round, in the heat and frigid temperatures, he shot baskets for five years.

If picking rocks, cleaning grain bins, sweeping or mowing grass aren’t options for your kids, make a chart of jobs they can do.

Wash your vehicles. Help clean the house. Be specific when assigning cleaning tasks around the house and be clear about your expectations with your children. The term “show ready” is what our daughters refer to when they know I want the clutter put away and everything in a specific room cleaned. “Tidy up” means simply picking up and wiping down surfaces. Establish work standards with your kids and they can rise to achieve it.

Kids can learn how to hang out clothes to dry on a clothesline. My grandma taught me how to do this task and it’s one of my favorite summer jobs still to this day. Yes, I have a dryer, but I love the freshness of hanging clothes to dry outside in the summer breezes.

Allow your children who are old enough to handle cooking responsibilities try a simple recipe and serve your family a meal or a dessert.

Clean the garage. Clean up around shrubs and trees. Pull weeds. If they’re old enough, mow the lawn. Volunteer to help a neighbor with jobs at least once a week with no expectation of being paid.

Yes, kids should get to be kids with time to free play outside, build forts and run in a sprinkler. In my experience, kids thrive in an environment where they are taught how to work and given the freedom to play.

Lastly, this past week our daughters and I downloaded an app called “Beanstack” to track their reading minutes and books read this summer. We’re carving out reading time each weekday.

In a world where I feel I have little influence, I know my best work starts at home, where our kids are working, playing and reading.

Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.

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