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City Kids Turned Farm Kids

 
Posts: 29
Location: Wisconsin
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Hi. We recently made the move from the big city to a small hobby farm in a rural setting. Our kids are ages 13 and 5. The 5-year-old is giddy-happy between the snakes, fish, frogs, song birds, chickens, guineas, turkeys, deer, DIRT :D, all of it.

The 13-year-old, not so much. ;) He has expressed some interest in a few farm projects such as raising quail and honey bees.

Looking for some ideas of smaller, starter projects to help him get started with the hardwork and mindset it will take to be successful at these larger ventures. He prefers air conditioning and screens. What can we do to get him to realize how much fun this can all be?

He sort of gets involved with the garden but it's not his thing. But we have asked for his input in what to grow and he will usually offer some input there.

What kinds of 4H projects do your teens do? Businesses they've started? Clubs?

Need ideas to keep our teen active and engaged especially during the upcoming summer time! Thanks!!
 
steward
Posts: 4598
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Tamara,
I think I would order up a small incubator and some quail eggs for the 13 year old. This will give him a real sense of ownership through raising and caring for such a small being. Definitely search out opportunities to get the 13 year old acquainted with other 13 year old's in your area. Might just be a bit of "depression" from leaving his old friends behind?
 
Posts: 31
Location: Lehigh Valley, PA zone 6b
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That’s hard, Tamara. 13 is such a tough age anyway, and adding in the culture shock of a radically different lifestyle.... not easy at all. He probably has a lot of resentment, even if he doesn’t really have the vocabulary to process those feelings. You’ll really need to be patient and do a lot of active listening. Watch your own language, too. In my experience, he’ll totally shut you out if you tell him how he should be feeling.

There’s a decent body of advice online for how to set limits around screen time, but of course, all of these apps are designed to be addictive, so that isn’t going to be easy, either.

Kids that age are looking for a peer group, so he’ll need lots of opportunities there. Maybe get him involved in outdoor adventure sports? Rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, dirt bikes.... if you have the space on your farm, maybe some attractive nuisances that’ll appeal to him and his new friends. All that energy and hormones need some direction, and if he can find a group of kids that DO things, rather that bitch about being bored, he’s less likely to fall in with the wrong crowd.


But you said he’s expressed in a couple of things... do your very best to say yes to those things, and quickly. Once he has some ownership of some projects, and if he has some satisfaction in them, other things around the homestead might prove more attractive.

He may need a new wardrobe to fit in with his new peers. As a former New Yorker, let me tell you, urban kids often tend to dress really very differently than their suburban/rural counterparts. And if he’s too hot doing things outside, his wardrobe may need some appropriate additions.

Glad the 5yo is happy! For younger kids (I have 4yo twins), I love some of the ideas found in Lovejoy’s Sunflower Houses book. I think it’s better than Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots.

Good luck to you all!
Daniel
 
pollinator
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Location: North East Ohio USA (Zone 6b)
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You mention 4-H projects in your post so not sure if your teen is in 4-H or not but that would be a good starting point to consider. Other teens to socialize with doing 4-H projects might help expose him to new things he might find interesting. So many things are connected, if he finds something of real interest it can open the door to many other connecting interests. Example if he found exotic breeds of chickens interesting that could lead to breeding his own chickens, learning carpentry to build a coop or chicken tractor, learning pasture management, gardening to grow healthy food for the chickens, business skills from selling chicks or eggs, etc.  You really only need just one real interest to open up so many connecting doors.

So I think finding fun, no pressure ways to expose him to many different things and involving him with other kids and teens(or adults if he enjoys being with adults) who are interested in farming/permaculture/animals/gardening, etc. would be a great way to build up some interest and enthusiasm.

4-H has so many great beginner projects. Their catalog is online and you can order one through the mail as well. I think that might be a helpful place to start looking for simple projects to start with. They have a huge variety of subjects you can do projects for, everything from cooking, gardening, animals, to sewing, sciences, carpentry, etc.

Also you said he likes screen time. You might consider finding some youtube channels, DVD's, etc. that he might find inspiring. Sometimes seeing someone else doing projects of various kinds can really inspire and energize you into wanting to get started on some of them yourself.

Everyone is different and he may never have any real interest in this kind of stuff but it he's free to explore without any pressure to find something or keep an interest then in time he might find something he really likes(I'm not saying your pressuring him or anything).
 
pollinator
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Tamara Koz wrote: He prefers air conditioning and screens. What can we do to get him to realize how much fun this can all be?



We don't have kids of our own, but some observations.  That which often gets rejected during our teens becomes a mainstay later in life.  Offer him involvement in your farm projects without forcing him to do so, except maybe occasionally when you can just appeal to him to help you with some temporary task.  Most importantly, lead by example and be happy/content in your own involvement in those outdoor activities.  The observation here is that I've seen many teens be very rejecting of their rurally-inclined parent's wishes, but when that teen finally leaves the nest and starts casting about in their own life for some sort of stability and calm, the outdoor involvement is the one that rises to the surface.  My own parents are still scratching their heads:  Having left the farm many years back and raised us in the city,  they nevertheless instilled gardening and outdoor appreciation in us, even though we were quite rejecting to their efforts at the time.  Now, ALL of their children are living rural lives!  The lesson here (if there is one) is to keep your eyes on the prize of your children's future.  Just do the best that you can,.....much of it is out of your control.
 
pollinator
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Location: South Central PA
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You might want to show him this YouTube channel (after you have previewed it first, l am about 97% sure its PG, but just saying, lol)  [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/user/TheUrbanFarmingGuys/videos[/youtube]  It started out as a group of young adults that wanted to start farming in the city. They have started all kinds of projects for inner city kids and adults to incorporate fresh food, growing, and even fish farming (and using their waste). It might be "cooler" or more interesting if the diy farming is being shown and in practice by city kids or young adults, and help to spark something he might want to try on your property. Good luck, and each kid is different, some may never appreciate the life you have transitioned to-- some will take to it immediately. Please don't ever beat yourself up over it, we loved to take our kids camping in the summer, and we ended up with 1 out of 4 that actually loved it and still wants to travel from the West Coast to the East just to go to the camp. One of these days maybe the other 3 will remember the moments they did have fun there and not view it in a negative light, but as adults, we saw that every day (even when they said they wanted to go back to the city) they had moments of pure happiness that would not have occurred if they weren't immersed in nature.
 
pollinator
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Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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I agree that 13 can be a difficult age for a lifestyle transition.  I'll suggest something, however I know realism in these things depends on what the boy is like.  Maybe this thread will have something in it worth considering? and possibly you'd like to contribute to the thread...

https://permies.com/t/105888/teach-kids-tools#864112  Kids & tools.

I suggest this sort of thing because in the summer just before my 13th birthday I built a minibike (motorscooter) from spare parts with a friend.  It was an exciting, fascinating, challenging, informative experience.  Context wouldn't have to be a 'motor vehicle' and many projects with tools take place outdoors.  I believe when you become more capable at making things, you mature in a certain way — a way that's real.  Just a thought.
 
Joel Bercardin
pollinator
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Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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How are things working out with your 13-year-old, Tamara?
 
Tamara Koz
Posts: 29
Location: Wisconsin
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Thanks for asking Joel! He is coming around. He moves extraordinarily slow which can be incredibly frustrating. But I just try to zen out and not let it bother me too much. I feel like it's part of his way of rebelling.  Great go for it. We could have far worse problems. ;) In elementary school it was..."He's reading books during lesson teaching time, again." We'll take it! Lol!

He definitely LOVES to use tools. Thank you for sharing the tool thread. And for the reminder....still need to check that out and share with my husband.

He helped dad dig out some spots for a new grape vine yesterday and he just loved swinging the pick axe...LOL...even though he didn't really even need that particular tool. But he loves driving the tractor mower, operating the snow blower, etc...

He is not a proactive initiator....but that is the end goal, right? He wasn't raised on a farm so he doesn't yet know the value of hard work. I agree with what others have said about setting a good example and finding joy in our own work. Leading by example is so so important. We can only hope that one day it will click. And if it doesn't, well we did all the things....

This whole journey began years ago when we started dreaming out loud. We set goals, we researched, we threw ourselves into teaching ourselves new skills, and we involved our son as much as we could each step of the way....including giving him a voice in where we moved.

He had a rough go of it starting out in life (I'm not his biological mom)....and where we are at now compared to where we started....leaps and bounds.

He is making me more proud by the day. This teenager stuff is no joke though. I keep trying to remember what I was like at that age. That combined with the knowledge of brain research and how long it takes for a young person's brain to fully develop....combined with all the stressors of being a teen in middle school (...plus being the new kid in a new town which is a small town, no less)....he's nailing it.

Has it been a perfect year? Nope. Are there moments I want to bang my head against a wall. Yup....many. Lol. But...considering all the things...I really feel like it's just going to keep getting better from here. We could not have picked a better place to raise our children. I feel so so blessed to be in this situation.

....Sometimes it just takes a little perspective to help me really appreciate a situation....
 
gardener
Posts: 1535
Location: Officially Zone 7b, according to personal obsevations I live in 7a, SW Tennessee
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Tamara Koz wrote:
He is not a proactive initiator....but that is the end goal, right? He wasn't raised on a farm so he doesn't yet know the value of hard work. I agree with what others have said about setting a good example and finding joy in our own work. Leading by example is so so important. We can only hope that one day it will click. And if it doesn't, well we did all the things....



I have a slave labor force of one. At fifteen, he has FINALLY seen value in doing quality work on a task that he did not want to do. There is yet hope for your kid!
 
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