It’s no wonder that as God was creating the world, He knew He needed someone to help Him care for the land itself, and for the animals and other creatures that would inhabit it.
And so He created the farmer, complete with a built-in desire to nurture and protect that which God had given to him and to all the world.
He also gave the farmer a heart of clay, a strong will to overcome, and an appetite that would have prevented the fruit growers in the Garden of Eden from needing government subsidies.
But once He had that crossed off of the list, He unknowingly created another problem. Who would take care of the farmer?
And that’s where the farmer’s wife comes in.
There is possibly no other brand of person that is as hearty, nor as gutsy, as the farmer’s wife. She was made to be versatile – strong enough to withstand the highs and lows that come with life on the farm, and gentle enough to cradle new babies and calm the ruffled feathers of her husband and children when things aren’t going well.
She has been known to drop whatever she’s doing in the house to come out and help her husband with something outside, sometimes spending most of the rest of her day there.
She learns to drive farm machinery, vaccinate animals and think of excuses as to why that dent appeared in the machine shed doors.
She can cook on the fly and create meals to feed an army, and she is often the one who gets to run for parts during those crucial days during the spring and fall.
My own mother, a farm wife in her own right, was once sent to town to get a part that was needed right away. Having done this before, she knew she would be asked some question to which she didn’t know the answer – in the days before cell phones.
She asked my dad for any kind of information that she could possibly need to tell the parts man, and left for town, feeling more confident than ever. When she got there, the parts man did ask her a question or two, but one of the questions he wanted to know was the color of the part she would need.
Of course, no one had given her that little tidbit of important information.
When speaking of this errand-running thing to a man in the grocery store once, he said it was a lot harder for men to do women’s errands, explaining that a trip to the grocery store can be a harrowing experience for the man who doesn’t have grocery shopping on his list of things to do each week.
“My wife will send me to the store, and when I get there, I see that there are 10 kinds of something, and I never know which one to get,” he said with a laugh.
For the farm wife, and even the farm mother, time is not measured by the clock, but by what you can accomplish before the sun sets. She can have a list of things she wants to do, but in the name of the family business, the marketing, book work and power washing the farrowing house, can all spring up unexpectedly. She needs to be ready with a strong stomach for any of those tasks.
One of our sons called me up one morning needing a favor. “Mom, if you have a minute, or maybe a couple of hours, can you run to (the implement store) for me and pick something up?”
“A minute, or a couple of hours.” Now there’s a young man in tune with what life is really like on the farm for the female of the species.
The farm wife often finds herself
At the business end of a pitch fork and a cooking fork.
Changing sweeps and sweeping commodities out of the house.
Washing crates and washing clothes.
Picking up the house and picking up parts.
Encouraging her kids and calming her husband when weather and markets don’t cooperate.
Paying the bills and paying it forward.
Mending fences and mending clothes, and, sometimes, mending relationships.
Bringing home the bacon and bringing home the grain.
Preserving the garden and preserving the family.
Helping the animals to have babies and giving birth to her own family.
Cutting the lawn and cutting hair.
Making a living and making a house a home.
Cleaning babies and cleaning tractor cab windows.
Unloading the groceries and unloading the hay rack.
Feeding the animals and feeding her family.
Soothing fevers and soothing her husband’s sweaty brow.
Vacuuming the house, and, often times, sucking it up when things aren’t going well.
Yes, God was really using His noodle when He created the farmer’s wife. She is a strong and proud specimen of humanity that provides the glue for not just the family, but for many things to hold together.
Farm wives, be proud. You’re caring for the ones who feed the world, even if it means your fingernails sometimes have dirt underneath them. It’s your medal of honor.
And a bag of chocolate never hurt, either – especially after having to think of a reason why the dent appeared in the machine shed door.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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