EDUCATION: What City Kids Learned on My Farm: ‘Hens don’t lay on demand. Tomatoes aren’t ripe in June. And animals don’t care about your feelings.’ “Overprotected as they are, a lot of city kids are missing out on so many important encounters with material reality: with death or danger or manual labor. These encounters can be unpleasant, even painful. It’s understandable that we want to save our children from them. But they lose something essential when we do.”

Plus: “Here’s one thing I’ve learned: children like being useful. They get a lot of freedom on the farm, but there’s one rule: everyone has to do chores. We use real tools and do real work. I teach them how to scrub a water trough, haul hay, muck a stall. They discover that manual labor is enjoyable, especially when you’re taking care of something other than yourself. Parents often tell me later that their children boast about the work they’ve accomplished. . . . Children like becoming competent, even the ones who have to be cajoled into working. When they come for return visits, as so many do, they dive in with even more enthusiasm, eager to go through the motions of the work they now know so well. ‘We have to fill the waters, right?’ they’ll say. Or, best of all: ‘When do we get to shovel the poop?'”