By Erik Spain
A few weeks ago my wife Secily and I took a trip to Chicago to celebrate our anniversary and it reminded me how lucky I was to be a West Texas farm kid.
We were taken aback by the beauty and architectural magnificence of the many skyscrapers. While examining the city’s great history and beauty, we wandered in and out of shops. I noticed many kids and teenagers hanging out in a mall as if that was the cool thing to do.
And I started to think how different my life would have been if I had spent my youth engulfed by consumerism and artificial happiness.
Growing up in a small town in West Texas and working on a farm, I didn’t have the so-called advantages many people from a city think are necessary.
But I had so many other experiences that molded me into the person I am today.
It is hard to quantify what learning to properly drive a tractor at the age of 7 or following granddad to the next field does for a young boy’s self-confidence. Those of us who grew up working on the farm and around agriculture were given responsibilities at such a young age that helped develop our love for hard work and showed us the need for integrity.
I do agree that it is the parents’ responsibility to raise good, self-reliant children. And there are many good, hard-working kids that come from cities. I feel as farmers and ranchers, we have so many more opportunities to teach our kids the value of dedication and hard work, and that you don’t need to spend money to have fun. There are so many lessons for kids to learn at the end of a dirt road.
Cities are important for trade and commerce to work in this world. But we need to realize that they aren’t the ultimate destination. Move outside of the manmade buildings and hectic lifestyle and step into rural America to see Mother Nature’s masterpieces. Farmers and ranchers work side-by-side with them every day to produce the food and fiber upon which we all depend.
Erik and Secily Spain represent District 2 on the Texas Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher Committee and farm cotton, corn and small grains on their farm near Olton.