Farming is more than just an important occupation, it’s most definitely a way of life. That’s especially true if you were born a farm kid, and farm kids in North Dakota learn early that the Northern Prairie has its own set of rules. If you grew up here, then here are a few of the things that likely set you apart from your friends from town.
1. You drove a truck before you should have.
Your parents needed help, and you probably got behind the wheel of a pickup or a grain truck before you could see properly over the top of it. On a farm in North Dakota, everybody pitches in, and that includes the kids. It might seem dangerous to somebody who didn’t grow up here, but there aren’t many traffic jams on North Dakota roads. That is, if you were driving on roads at all.
2. You know how to pick rocks – maybe even by hand.
In parts of North Dakota, rock picking is an annual ritual that is as grueling as it sounds. Yes, you do indeed pick the rocks out of the field in order to protect the equipment, and yes, there is modern equipment to make the job less of a chore. There always seems to come a time, though, when a rock or two (or more) demands a personal touch. Rock piles in North Dakota stand as ancient shrines honoring the hard work – and bitter complaints – of generations of farm kids.
3. You can find the sweet spot on a washboard gravel road.
First off, do you know what a washboard road is? If not, you are definitely not a North Dakota farm kid. Thanks to the state’s relentless erosion and struggles with drainage, some roads degrade into a mass of natural speed bumps that can shake your fillings loose and turn your truck’s suspension into lutefisk. Farm kids know a secret, however. There is often a sweet spot where you can put your tires in order to minimize the vibration. Occasionally, this trick involves placing one tire on the shoulder of the road, and should only be attempted by true North Dakota farm kids.
4. You spent a good part of your youth in a coulee.
When you grow up in a state with virtually no visible topography, you tend to gravitate toward whatever hills you can find. In North Dakota, they are shallow ravines known as coulees, and for many farm kids they are the closest they came to a ski hill (or any hill, for that matter). They have trees that aren’t carefully planted in a straight line and sometimes they even include a small stream. Coulees are perfect for bike riding, sledding, hunting, camping and the occasional get together with friends.
5. You wave to everyone when you drive.
Even if you don’t know them! Here in the northland, you always acknowledge another driver, whether they are your neighbor or the UPS driver making a remote delivery. Waving as you drive is a tradition in rural North Dakota, perhaps because you can drive such a long way without seeing another vehicle. Or, perhaps it’s simply because farmers around here are just extra friendly, showing their respect for another soul lucky enough to be out driving in the dusty twilight of a long North Dakota summer sunset.
The next time you see a banker from First United Bank, ask them about their experiences growing up in North Dakota. Many of them are part of farm families themselves, and those who aren’t have spent the better part of their lives working with those who are. It’s these shared experiences that separate an average bank from an ag bank, and a by-the-book lender from an in-the-field partner.
Did everything on this list sound familiar? Are you a real North Dakota farm kid, or perhaps you wish you were? The beauty of North Dakota is that it welcomes everyone and makes a lasting impression on us all.