The sun’s not up yet, but I know it’s cold enough outside to see my breath.   This time of year, the cold of morning doesn’t just sneak up on you; it grabs you in a headlock and doesn’t let go until February.  That’s life in Iowa. 

“It’s just not normal to expect kids to get up this early,” whines my 15-year-old, who is, at best, stubbornly consistent in lobbying to skip before-school marching band practice.  No such luck.

My daughter is the first in five generations in my family to not grow up on a farm.   Maybe that’s why I’m always quick to remind her that, yes, there are perfectly normal kids in Iowa who get up before dawn; farm kids. 

There are fewer of them than you may remember; less than five percent of Iowans farm, according to the USDA 2007 Census.  But, I can guarantee that the Farm Strong work ethic is just as strong as ever.

The day-to-day business of running a farm, even in this day, requires ‘all hands on deck’ help, and this summer’s failed attempt by the Federal government to dictate how kids can work on family farms  proved the strength of this ‘Farm Strong’ work ethic. 

Early mornings, without complaint, were always a part of my farm life as a kid.  So I guess that’s why I just had to smile and nod and give the ‘wind it up’ signal to my teen as she pulled on her hoody and we headed for the door this morning.   Yes, it was 37-degrees.  The sun won’t be up for an hour yet, but I those who do get up this early, like farmers, know the beauty of bringing in the harvest as the whole world sleeps, or seeing a new calf born, greeting its first sunrise.   As we headed out the door I reminded her that the work is hard, the hours may be long, but rewards don’t come to ‘clock watchers’ and if you sleep in, who knows what you might miss? ( ).    

Written by Laurie Johns
Laurie Johns is Public Relations Manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau.