I often wonder what my children will think about when they’re grown. What memories will they have of their early years here at home?

One memory of my children that I will carry includes the summer evenings we spent around campfires on the driveway. Memories are often about specifics–time, place, colors, words, smells and other details that create an indelible footprint on your psyche.

However most of my memories of evenings around the fire revolve around how those evenings felt. No one argues. The kids are willing to talk in depth about their week at school, their likes and dislikes, and ask questions we might otherwise never hear. As a family, we just generally enjoy each other’s company.

We have been doing this for many years but recently I have noticed a really strong trend in landscaping, especially in backyards. Everyone seems to include a fire pit when they build a new patio. I know many people who have purchased a pre made one to plop into their yard. Even friends who live in larger towns and cities talk about evenings spent by a fire in their backyard. If I had to guess, there are probably many families that are creating memories similar to mine.

Maybe, in this crazy paced society with all of our schedules filled to the breaking point, we are still able to find ways to be a family. Maybe, it is OK for us to create family identities in ways that the ‘experts’ have not yet recognized. Maybe, my kids will think back on those evenings as fondly as I do. And maybe, we should move the fire pit closer to the house so that the wireless Internet connection is in range and I can write these blog posts by the fire…or maybe not.


About jheem

I grew up on a diversified dairy farm in southeast South Dakota where I learned how to throw a hay bale, pull a calf, deal with death, and "name" the cows. I was in 4H and FFA, and was privileged to serve as a state FFA officer. In college, I studied animal science, focusing on beef cows, mostly because I figured they were less work than dairy cows....I ended up with a Masters Degree in ruminant nutrition and went to work for the University of Nebraska, first as a research tech coordinating data collection for a swine unit and beef feedlot on a research farm and then as an extension educator. In my current job, I focus on environmental issues related to animal agriculture (which is a nice way of saying I talk about manure alot). My husband and I live and work on a seedstock cattle operation in northeast Nebraska. You can learn more about our cattle operation by visiting my husband's blog at
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