Behind [almost] every good farmer is a good farm wife. Or a potential farm wife if one is dating or engaged to a farmer. Whether you are a woman with a full time career away from home, a stay at home mom with the kids, a house wife, a woman with a part-time job, a woman in school, a woman who works full time on the farm, a woman who doesn't work on the farm at all, a woman who just brings meals and rides in the tractor, you are just as important as the farmer whether it be physically or emotionally. The farm needs you.
I had a friend, newly married to a farmer text me the other day. Her text read “Wow, you make me look like a bad farm wife! I never help in the fields. Am I supposed to?”
My answer to her was, “You’re not a bad farm wife for not helping in the fields. You’re an amazing farm wife being just the understanding and caring person that you are.”
A farmer has an unpredictable schedule based around the seasons and the weather. When it’s the busy season, life sometimes can be a blur of eat, sleep, work and farm. Repeat. It’s a bonus if he has clean work pants and underwear ready at all times along with something to eat (whether it’s a cold meat sandwich or a 4 course country feast complete with dessert). What is more important is that he has our support and our patience. Support and patience are far more important than being an expert auger cart runner, a country chef that can whip up a portable 4 course meal and a gal that can turn a wrench just as well as the boys.
Being able to help on the farm physically is just a bonus. It’s not necessary nor is it expected. Do it only if you love it. Don’t force yourself into helping if you don’t enjoy it or you will become bitter with the farm and your husband’s way of life. I help in the fields because our farm is small and my husband and father-in-law both work full time outside the farm. We can’t afford to hire outside help if we want to put cash in our own pocket. I grew up around tractors. It's what I love.
We all have to work together in order to make things happen. We are a family and a team. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my husband, husband’s parents, his grandma and I all gathered around the back of a tailgate eating dinner in the crisp, autumn air. The meal may only last 5 minutes but it is what I look forward to the most when farming. It’s not my mother in law’s amazing beef and noodles that keep me craving more, it’s the reminder that we are all in this together. We are a team; a team of farmers and good farm wives.
Remember, you don’t have to be turning up dust in the fields or feeding calves to be a great farm wife. Here are ten ways you can be a great farm wife without ever having to pull on a pair of work boots.
1. Being supportive with new purchases. Don’t turn down every new idea he has completely just because you want that new swimming pool. Figure out a budget together and make both your wants and needs realistic. Don’t act surprised and upset when a brand new tractor or combine shows up in the drive if you didn't take interest in what he had to say in the beginning of the process. My husband and I work together on equipment purchases. We find pieces within our means so we’re both happy. It’s a lot more fun and there are no surprises that way. Your husband may not care about your new washer and dryer but you definitely want him to like and support the ones you pick, right? The same goes with farm equipment.
2. Having a date night in the tractor. You may not like tractors, the dust and the noise, but do it at least once a season. I don’t want you to end up hating it even more by all means but remember it’s the only time you may see him for a while. Bake some cookies and surprise him. Bring along some hot cocoa in a thermos. Sing along together with the radio. Make it fun!
3. Taking care of the kids. That’s a job all on its own and I know it’s hard not having daddy around all the time to help. Spring and harvest may make you feel like a single parent. You taking care of the kids and making sure they’re getting all the love they need will mean more to him than any meal or physical labor on the farm. It’s hard on him being away from the kids all the time but it will be even easier knowing you’re at home providing the best life they can possibly get.
4. Asking questions and showing some interest in farming. Show your farmer that you’re interested in what he’s doing. Learn something new. Have him maybe explain how to read the yield monitor in the combine or share with you his favorite breeds of livestock. Farming is a forever growing and changing field. No pun intended. There’s so much to learn, see and do. It may not be a passion of yours now but hopefully with time and knowledge, it will be. Your husband is going to be talking about all things farming sometimes. Whether it’s the weather, what a piece of land sold for at the latest auction, what new piece of equipment his neighbor has or which fields have the best yields. Farm gossip is what I like to call it. It’s going to be everywhere. It’s real easy for guys to get caught up in farm talk. Get used to it.
5. Celebrating together after a busy season. Planting and harvest can last a few weeks, several months or even an entire season! As much as we love this time of year, sometimes it’s nice to have your normal life back. (If there is such a thing as normal... I feel for you dairywomen!) When it’s officially done, take him to his favorite restaurant or cook his favorite meal that you can finally enjoy at the table! Rent his favorite movies. Arrange a night out with your group of friends together. After all, he’s worked very hard and so have you to make it through the season. Why not celebrate your farm milestones?
6. Visiting a farm show together. You may have wanted to go to that brand new outlet mall on your day off but he wants to take you to the farm show. You can go to the mall anytime. It’s not often we get invited over his friends to the farm show! Take him up on that offer. It’s quality time together and hey, you might come home with some free pens and key chains. He may come home with new dollar signs in his eyes thinking about what piece of equipment to trade in next. Let him dream and enjoy your new pens!
7. Dressing for the occasion. You may not be one to work on the farm, but if you are going to a farm show or on a tractor ride with your farmer you have to skip the high heels and skirts. I’m not saying you have to hit up the local Carhartt outlet store filling your closet with flannels and duct coats or be someone you’re not but at least get comfortable and be safe! Dress for the weather. Your farmer doesn’t want to stop shelling corn to rescue you as you’re dangling from your high heel in the ladder of the combine. I like to keep a pair of overalls and old boots in my vehicle at all times in case I’m coming from somewhere with nice clothes and need to stop by the farm unexpectedly.
8. Practicing patience. Patience is extremely important and maybe the most important trait if your spouse is a farmer. You’re going to have several evenings of cold meals on the table. You’re going to go to weddings alone. Your husband may have to break a double date or plans with your parents because of unpredictable weather. Farmers make hay when the sun shines and we always can’t predict when the sun is going to shine. During busy season, you will go to bed alone. It may be months before you have a date night. Be patient and remember things will slow down eventually. It’s harder on the farmer if he knows you’re mad or upset at him. He needs to focus on safety and his job; not being worried about you sobbing in your pillow because once again you’re going to a wedding alone. Remember, the word maybe DOES NOT mean yes. Be patient. That maybe may turn into a yes, if it rains of course!
9. Supporting his dreams. Your farmer is going to forever dream. He’s going to dream about keeping up what his grandfather and great grandfather started. More land, more livestock, more grain bins, bigger and better equipment, that new diesel pick up, a new shop, leaving his day job to farm full time. Turn his dreams into your dreams. Maybe someday you’ll get those winter vacations in Florida or that dream to be a stay at home farm wife once the farm is finally big enough. He needs those dreams to keep going. After all, some of his dreams are a tax-write off. Your dream convertible sports car isn't.
10. Having your own life. Just because you’re married to a farmer doesn't mean YOUR life has to revolve around farming 24/7 all year round. Your husband wouldn't want you to feel that way! You also have to be comfortable being alone and not so dependent on a man. A good farm wife can function as an independent person. Take up hobbies of your own and get off the farm when you can. Teach your farmer about your hobby and things you’re interested in. Hearing about your day is just as important to him as you hearing about his. Farming is a way of life but it doesn't have to be your only life. Marriage is a two way street.
Those are ten things that make me and the women in my family great farm wives. It takes a special kind of lady to be married to a farmer. It’s extremely hard getting adjusted in the beginning and it gets easier with time but it will always and forever be hard. It’s up to you to make it easier and more enjoyable on yourself!