Let’s face it. There are a lot of things in which a farmer’s wife can be knee-deep. It may be cooking, book work, laundry, children, canning and the garden, debt, livestock dung, or the fertilizer she hears over the fence as her husband and neighbors exchange stories.
But as we wallow in all of this knee-deep-ness, we’re reminded that once a year isn’t nearly often enough to realize that we have it pretty good compared to many in our world.
Gratitude comes in many forms. Here is the farm wife’s top 10 list:
1.Carpet made of corn. Not only does it help her bottom line as a producer, but with all the corn she vacuums out of it, she can sell it and take that dream vacation she never got because there’s too much work to do on the farm. She may need to supplement with the corn she harvests out of shoes, pockets, tractors and the washer and dryer when commodity prices are low.
2. Scotch-Guard. For the farm wife this is a must; and sometimes she doesn’t even need the “guard” part as much as the “scotch” as she works tirelessly to keep it clean out here on the prairie. She never knows who or what will show up on it.
3. Potato chip cylinders. For the farm mom who needs to come up with something that will double as a silo on her young children’s toy farm, they’re irreplaceable. It’s one of her first experiences in thinking like her husband, and attempting to solve farm problems.
4. Sewing machines. Mending carries with it a kind of love-hate relationship, but it does seem to keep the relationship going between the farmer and his checkbook. It’s part of her contribution to successful farm cash flow. Michelangelo has nothing over the farm wife who mends blue jeans. Over time, they become pieces of art as well, except they end up in the trash barrel eventually, instead of the Smithsonian. Oh, the injustice.
5. Casseroles. The farm wife must find something that can be kept warm in the oven until her hungry crew deems it no longer useful to be outside. If it’s late enough, they may also deem it not useful to come in, finding that cacti have more hydration than their supper, which has been warming in the oven since baling season started.
6. Neighbors. Whether it’s an unexpected livestock round-up or she’s stuck in the mud, her neighbors are always ready to help. And usually, all it costs is a 12-pack of some kind of hop-filled beverage. Her husband may need some, too, when she tells him the story.
7. Dark towels. Hands get washed in a hurry sometimes as the farm family races from one filthy, greasy project to another. Only a farm wife can truly appreciate the value of a dark towel by the sink. There are some things she just doesn’t need to see.
8. Garden hoses. While they make her life easier in many ways, it especially helps her to be able to bend dried manure-covered jeans to get them into the washing machine, instead of having to wrestle them in. Once again, our mailman must wonder what goes on around here sometimes when he sees us hosing off clothing in the front yard.
9. Large-capacity washing machines. Lambing and calving season? Enough said.Yeesh.
10. Her life on the farm. The farm wife knows she’s helping to give her children a childhood that not everyone gets to experience. The farm is a teacher with a barn, and the lessons learned on the land can’t be learned from textbooks.
Finally, the farm wife is thankful for the time she gets to spend with her husband. Often times it’s spent working together because free time is at a premium.
Though it’s not necessarily romantic, she understands that he’s singlehandedly keeping 155 people in food every year.
And she can’t think of anything she’d rather be knee-deep in doing.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and at www.karenschwaller.com.
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