I know this doesn’t sound like my usual sort of post but hear me out. I am blessed to admin an awesome Facebook community for rural women most of whom are connected to agriculture (whether its through work, being family farmers, ranchers, or homesteaders, or having a spouse that is). An article was posted in Farm Talk Newspaper earlier this week that upset a lot of them, and me too. So together we wrote a response and I’m excited to share it with you today.
This post is in response to “The Top 10 ‘above and beyond’ Farm Wife qualities” written by Mark Parker and posted in Farm Talk Newspaper. You can read the article here, although I’ll warn you, it might bring up strong feelings! Apparently, it was written in jest, but when you poke fun of a woman in ag and define her solely by her ability to cook and clean house, you are going to find many competent, self-sufficient, resilient women upset.
Even though a “Farm Wife”, a “woman married to a Farmer”, a “woman as the primary operator”, or a “Woman In Ag” is difficult to define and definitely not a one size fits all title (each person and her roles are so different), I want to highlight some of the “above and beyond” qualities of the wonderful women in ag that are an inspiration to me and many others!
She is an entrepreneur creatively coming up with ways to help add income for her family and keep the farm afloat within volatile markets.
She meets with ag professionals with the next generation on her hip and by her side, finding her own way of balancing family and farming.
She is the queen of all trades from driving combine, to “bin boss”, to amazing shuffler of all equipment, learning new skills and perfecting them.
She is the sole operator of her farm. With her unique viewpoint as a Farmer/Rancher and a woman, her strategies and abilities rival that of any of her male counterparts.
She is an expert multitasker from maintaining the books for both farm and home and sometimes multiple ag businesses. She often maintains an off the farm job to ensure that her family can continue farming and pass this lifestyle onto the next generation.
She takes on the roles of cooking, housekeeping, nurse, counselor, vet, and teacher, because she also values the running of her home as much as running the farm or ranch.
She is a farm wife and an ag professional. She takes her job seriously and is as confident as she is cautious in a role that is up and coming for women in ag!
She is an integral piece in her family ag operation. She is not a hired “woman”, but a partner, an equal shareholder in money, decisions, joy, sadness, frustrations, etc. She and her husband are partners and she’s not the silent type.
She is a dreamer. She has hope, She dives into new agricultural ventures. She is also a realist, knowing what could go wrong and how devastating that would be for her family.
She’s got skin in the game. She signs on the dotted line. She recognizes the weight of her signature on that paper. She is not faint of heart.
She willingly and patiently works with her husband and learns the “language” he uses while sorting cows, irrigating, and guiding her as she backs a pick up to a trailer. She values teamwork and giving grace to those she works with, even during times of stress.
She sees the ins and outs of stress and physical and mental fatigue. She is constantly checking herself and keeping an eye on the rest of the farming team, so that not only the farm succeeds and moves forward and is made better, but they are too!
She is the next generation. Struggling to bridge the gap, create forward movement, and consider the feelings and needs of the generation before her while moving the farm to her generation.
It took more than 10 points to even come close to describing the qualities of the women that take on the role of a woman in ag! Some of these amazing women who lent their stories and their thoughts to the writing of this article include but are not limited to…
Elizabeth Shipstead – www.theruralsisterhood.com
Mindy Young – www.farmfitliving.com
Kacey Green – www.rusticranchwife.com
Malia Mount – www.facebook.com/faithfoodandfarm
Lorna Sixsmith – www.lornasixsmith.com