The vows are exchanged, the champagne is toasted and the cake is eaten. You gaze off into the sunset together. You’re thinking about your new life as husband and wife . . . your husband is thinking about the weather and if he’ll be able to finish seeding his winter wheat.
So, you’ve married a farmer. Welcome to the club!
When you marry a farmer, you not only take his last name, but you also take on his farm, ranch and lifestyle. If you’re like me and didn’t grow up on a farm or a ranch, you can’t fully comprehend how much your life will revolve around farming. When you are a full-time farming family, your schedule revolves around: the weather, planting, haying, harvest, calving, and did I mention the weather? Your husband doesn’t clock out of work at five on Friday so your weekend can begin. Some weeks, every day feels the same and you can’t tell the difference between a Wednesday or a Saturday because your farmer is working the same long hours. That wedding next month? You’ll have to RSVP for one . . . and if it rains, your farmer will be there with you.
Social media has brought more attention to the world of agriculture. It gives outsiders a way to look in and puts a face to farmers and ranchers. Even though I’m right in the middle of agriculture (I live with fields and cows all around me), I still feel like I’m on the sidelines. We have a young family and my main role at this time is raising our babies. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but sometimes I feel like I’m not an integral part of our farming operation. There are times I’ve looked on social media and have seen a woman driving a combine or moving cows. (Shout out to you hardworking women!) In this moment, I feel inadequate, that if I’m not doing what she is doing, I’m not working on our farm. There are times you will find me out in the field running equipment, or helping in the barn with calving, but more often than not, I’m at home.
For those of us who consider ourselves “farmer’s wives” it’s easy to feel like we aren’t helping. But when we sit down and think about everything we do, it’s a lot. If your husband has clean clothes to work in—you’re working. If your husband and crew get meals delivered to the field—you’re working. If your children are fed, dressed and taken care of every day—you’re working. If your house is somewhat clean—you’re working. If your phone rings while you’re in town getting groceries and you have to detour to the parts store—you’re working. If bills are getting paid and entered into QuickBooks—you’re working. If you have to drop everything at any moment and help your farmer do any number of things—you’re working. It sometimes doesn’t feel like we’re a big part of the farm, but we are the unseen support.
We are the ones who give our farmers a gentle reminder that life does exist off the farm. Vacations (that don’t involve picking up a new piece of equipment) are good for the soul and a farmer’s wife’s sanity. We are also a reminder that even if it isn’t your best year of farming, a good life isn’t defined by crop yields and rain. Maybe in a few years when my babies aren’t babies, I’ll be right in the thick of it. But for now, I’ll be kissing babies and wondering how so much grain ends up in my dryer. And I know the women who were there before me will reach out with a helping hand and say, “Welcome to the club.”