I think I now realize where people’s perceptions of farm animals come from.
Kids toys. Books. Puzzles. More toys.
Do you know how many kids toys there are revolving around farm animals! Now that I’m a mom to a busy one-year-old boy, I realize the extent to why kids love farm animals. Because they are everywhere!
When I was expecting my son and receiving gifts, I was so excited to get a few farm animal toys and books. Wow – where do people find these nice things that are about agriculture!?
Well, come to find out – they are everywhere. And now I realize that kids all over the country (and probably the world) are learning their animal sounds that include “moo”, “baa” and “oink” while they see pictures of these animals. This is the scary part. Almost EVERY.SINGLE. farm animal picture includes a dairy cow on grass, a pig or piglet on grass, and a chicken on … you guessed it… grass. So why aren’t people’s perceptions of farm animals so romantic? They grew up with it and are now showing it to their own kids.
There have been some wonderful people in the ag community that have written children’s books about production agriculture and how it really is. But it is a big challenge to try to compete with the toy industry and Old MacDonald.
I’m not really sure that I have a solution, but it was more of an eye-opening realization that we are teaching our children that the cow should live on grass with a big red barn in the background, the chicken should roam Old MacDonald’s farm and the pig should be walking amongst the farm yard (don’t they not think that the pig will head north!)
We may not be able to take out all of these images of fake farm animals from the toy industry, but we can help educate them and our children. I, for one, make up some stories to my son’s favorite book, "Big Red Barn”:
“Here is Daisy, the dairy cow. She produces milk for us to drink and for other dairy products. She is probably on vacation right now in the barnyard, but she’ll go back to her happy place in the milking parlor amongst her friends where they will hook up milkers and she’ll be as content as ever because she eats well and they treat her great.”
He just looks up at me and smiles, and he doesn’t have a clue right now.
But someday I pray that he will so he can teach someone else about the reality of our beloved farm animals.