Experiencing the little moments where her children’s individual personalities shine – that’s what Samantha Miller enjoys most about being a mom.
“Even though they look like siblings, they are very much individuals,” said Miller of her three young children.
Hadalynn is 6, Remillie, 4, and Rylence is 2. The Millers, who farm near Houghton in northeatern South Dakota, will welcome a fourth child this summer.
She recalls a recent moment with her oldest, Haddie.
“She has her own Bible, and although she cannot read yet, she came downstairs and said, ‘Mom, I read the first three pages of my Bible. I don’t know how to read yet, but Jesus and me, we go through it,’” she remembers.
Because she stays at home with her children and homeschools, Miller says she gets to take in many small moments each day. Due to recent circumstances with the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided to take a break from her small business, The Farmer’s Wife, a clothing boutique in Aberdeen.
She customizes Haddie’s curriculum to the kindergartener’s interests and learning style.
“She is a hands-on learner, so I incorporate math or reading into baking or other crafts,” says Miller, explaining that Haddie picks up concepts quicker if they are part of activities she already enjoys.
Miller says she and her husband, Nathan, were inspired to homeschool by her mom, Julie Mielitz, who homeschooled her younger sisters.
“We always agreed it was something we were interested in doing,” Miller said. “It goes well with our farming lifestyle. We are able to travel to the zoo or aquarium on days when Nathan isn’t busy with farm work.”
Nathan farms with his dad and brothers. The family lives on Nathan’s great-grandparents’ farmstead and just six miles from Nathan’s mom and dad.
When she worked in town, her children spent a few days each week with Grandma Barb. And even now, they spend time each week doing crafts or baking with grandma.
“We are family-focused. I like that kids get to spend time with Grandma or ride in the tractor with Grandpa,” she said.
Although she grew up in town, Miller has many happy memories from days she spent on her grandparents’ farm. Raising her children on the farm is something Miller appreciates.
“They can be outside,” she said. “Just a little more sense of safety and freedom than if we were living in a neighborhood.”
Even though she homeschools, COVID-19 has impacted Haddie’s life because her ballet lessons are canceled and they are not able to have playdates. Miller says she has been careful in how she explains the situation – sharing just enough information that Haddie understands why things have changed, but not too much that she worries.
“I just told her, there is a new illness that makes you sick. And they are trying to keep people healthy by keeping people home,” she said.
A highlight for the family has been drive-in church. On Sundays, their pastor and the church band stand on the roof of a now closed Aberdeen retailer. Thanks to a local radio station, attendees can sit in their cars, with windows rolled up, and tune into the service via their car radios.
Faith plays a large role in the Miller family and farm.
“I keep saying that what everyone is going through right now, this is what farmers go through all the time – the not knowing what will happen,” Miller said. “You plant your crops but don’t know what will happen. It is all in God’s hands – whether the weather or markets will cooperate. We really don’t know. The only thing we can do is pray and know that God has a plan and he is going to take care of you.”
In honor of Mother’s Day May 10, South Dakota Farmers Union is featuring South Dakota farm and ranch moms.
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