Balancing school, work, and farm chores is a daunting yet rewarding life for junior Addisen Nicholson. Addisen, daughter of Middle School creative arts teacher Katherine Nicholson, understands the responsibilities and time it takes to operate a farm. Farming runs in her blood; her mother grew up riding horses, and her father showed dairy cows.
Maintaining the 17.2-acre open farm in Ellington requires participation from the entire family. The animals on her farm include sheep, cows, chickens, rabbits, dogs, cats, and pigs. “My dad lays the hay, my mom cleans and replenishes the water, my brother Oliver takes care of the smaller animals like the bunnies and chickens, and I feed the animals grain,” Addisen explained. The farm includes a large garden as well, which requires time and consistency to maintain.
During the school year, finding time to complete all the farm chores and stay ahead of academics tends to be challenging. A typical day on the farm involves numerous tasks. In the summer, Addisen begins the day around 8:00 a.m. to feed the animals before the intense heat of the day. During the school year, Addisen arrives home late after sports, but she still is expected to feed the animals grain and hay in the evening. Weekends on the farm involve maintenance, rising early, cleaning, and accomplishing long-term farm improvement projects.
Addisen has had farm chores for as long as she can remember. “I started doing the small things like grooming the horses, and I have gotten more responsibilities as I’ve grown older and become more knowledgeable,” she said. “Now I have even learned to give medicine to the animals.” Although Addisen loves all of the animals, her favorite are the sheep. “They each have unique personalities,” she shared.
Daily routines for the family become more complex when traveling or vacations come into play. “When we go away, it is pretty normal for us to get a ‘farm sitter,’” Addisen explained. The farm sitter shows up three times a day to check on the animals and make sure that they get their everyday feedings.
Despite all of the sacrifice and hard work of farm life, Addisen would not have it any other way. “I definitely would love to live on a farm when I’m older,” she said. “It would be a dream.” Living and working on a farm has taught Addisen invaluable life lessons about time management. “I have to prioritize my social life and my hobbies to make sure the farm runs,” she said.
There are plenty of things one can learn in the classroom, but we don’t always recognize the important skills that come outside of them. Addisen understands that working a farm builds responsibility, a strong work ethic, and a personal connection to the land.