By Julie Tomascik

Lessons are planned. New school clothes have been bought. Practices have started.

It’s time. Summer is coming to an end and students are getting ready to head back to school. To the classroom. Where they learn textbook essentials—math, science and reading. Things they’ll use for years to come.

But agriculture’s classroom taught me skills beyond the books. Handy tricks, life lessons and how to think outside of the box.

Those lessons learned growing up on a farm can be boiled down to these 10 things…

10. Reuse and recycle. Old bathtubs make stylish water troughs. Not that the cows really care about style.

9. Always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t get in between a momma cow and her calf. It’s a mistake you only make once.

8. Improvising. Caught out in the rain without a jacket? Use a feed sack for shelter from Mother Nature.

7. Punishments were painful. You preferred a spanking to fixing fence for hours in the scorching Texas heat.

6. You reap what you sow. Extra effort in the beginning often means a better end result.

5. There are no excuses. A job is a job. And it needs to be done.

4. You learn to toughen up. Or else. There’s no crying in baseball. And there’s no crying in farming. Roll up those sleeves. Get dirty. Get greasy. And get going until the job’s done.

3. Duct tape. It has a special place on the farm. And it’s right next to baling wire. It can fix anything. Holds together stronger than glue. And makes a darn good Band-Aid.

2. Parents might actually know what they’re talking about. Mom and Dad are right. Almost all of the time. Chalk up your pride and take their advice. It saves you time.

1. The power of prayer. We prayed for rain. For the crops and pastures. For our neighbors, family and friends. For strength and guidance. Because farming and ranching takes a lot of faith.

Sometimes the lessons were tough. Sometimes funny. But always valuable.