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Memories of Canadice NY

The Boys’ Education on the Farm

By Earl Mastin - The Canadice Chronicle

November 1995

For many years I enjoyed having teenage boys work for me on the farm. During these times it was an education for me as well as for the boys.

They seemed to enjoy the days spent helping on the farm. They learned what it was to be trustworthy and accept responsibility. It was a new experience for most of them, to help take care of and feed the animals on the farm. They liked learning to drive the tractor, hauling the loads of hay from the fields and the shocks of grain from the binder.

It was fun for them to work with the neighbors when we got together at threahing time and when we filled silo.

Farm Work a Benefit

The boys not only enjoyed working but were also glad to earn a little money of their own which they could spend on ice cream, candy and other things growing boys like to buy.

Their work on the farm was also helpful to their parents, knowing that they were doing useful work and perhaps buying some of their own clothes and books for school. The boys learned what it was to handle money and to spend it wisely. They learned to have respect for those they became associated with, while working on the farm. And they appreciated being given responsibile chores and receiving credit for work well done.

Good Habits

The experience on the farm became a valuable part of their education. I never asked the boys to work alone at a boring job but would work with them, as the time went faster with someone to talk to and answer questions that they might have about the work.

There were enjoyable times when we would go to the house and have a couple of Helen’s cookies and a bottle of pop in the middle of the afternoon. This gave them a lift for the rest of the day, until after chores were done and it was time for a good supper of home cooked food.

I am sorry that not many boys nowadays have the same opportunity that these boys had, caring for the animals and chickens on the farm. The little calves frolicked around the pen when the boys came to feed them. There wouldn’t be as much vandalism, I think, if the young people had a chance to do something useful and have it appreciated.

As a Twig is Bent, the Tree’s Inclined

After these boys have grown up and become good parents and good citizens in the community, it is a good feeling to know that I had a part in their lives they never have forgotten.

Most teen age boys develop a good appetite. They enjoyed the meals that my wife Helen prepared for them. They also learned to be courteous and have good manners, which is important for all adults.

Restrictive Laws

It is too bad that our legislature made it difficult for boys to get a job on the farm. The laws now limit what they can do and when they can do it. Laws make it hard for the employer because of all the paperwork he has to make out and the rules he has to follow.

In days gone by, people had more freedom to hire a young person and give him work. At the present time, many of the boys who get into trouble lack something to do. The boys that used to work for me on the farm never got into any kind of trouble, as they were kept busy doing what they liked to do.

Today’s Adults

I enjoyed working with them and helping them get new experiences like cutting wood and putting it into the woodshed as fuel for the coming winter. And they developed a mechanical sense by repairing machinery in the field.

As the boys have grown up and think back about their experiences on the farm, they saw that it was one they will never forget and an education that they couldn’t have gotten any other place.