It’s been awhile since I read Erma Bombeck’s take on all that God put into the creation of mothers. From my own perspective, mothers have plenty packed in there to equip themselves to take on that “mother of all jobs,” literally.
They have to have just the right mix of wisdom to keep the family running, culinary expertise to keep everyone fed, athletic tendencies for traveling with babies and toddlers, coping skills from the delivery room through college graduation years, spirituality to understand why she was called to this freak show she calls her family, and has to have “the look” down so her children know when they’ve crossed the line.
And not necessarily in that order.
But ladies of the farm – have you ever thought about all the “extras” that you have to have in order to be a farm mom?
It’s a special-order thing. Certainly, if anyone read the job description, no one would volunteer for it unless they saw Dr. Kevorkian sitting in the driveway.
She must be able to run a household on a farmer’s budget, keep a large garden because some years it’s necessary, and switch roles from farm laborer to farm wife and mother in the blink of an eye.
The farm mother must be able to lift hay bales, the spirits of her family, and the implement behind her as she works in the field.
She should be able to drive livestock, tractors, grain trucks and her children to the doctor after stepping on rusty nails in the grove.
Backing up while using mirrors is over the top.
She’ll need to be able to do the chores when her guys are all in the field, and know how to take care of loose livestock – whether it’s a gate-related thing or a gastric issue.
Sometimes those chores start at 10 p.m. when her work is finished as well during busy times of the year.
She should be able to run a simple garden hose for livestock watering purposes, and to wash evidence of livestock off of blue jeans before they go into the washing machine.
She must understand that her washing machine will not look pristine, and will see more pliers, rocks and pocket knives run through there than Elizabeth Taylor had husbands.
She should be able to prepare meals for a crew and keep them warm for hours as she hauls them out to the fields in the fall, then come back home, unpack it all and prepare lunch box lunches for everyone for the next day.
She should also be able to exercise restraint when her husband tells her at 11 a.m. that there will be extra people there for dinner.
She should not be afraid to kiss her young children good-night, when they were covered with manure and smelled like the hog house just an hour earlier. And she should understand that sometimes she will smell like the hog house and walk out of her boots in the manure, too.
The truly amazing farm wife can load hogs without loading up on Valium first, and should be able to vaccinate more than just a practice orange.
She must be able to write out the cash rent check with nerves of steel during those years of uncertainty, and sign her name on bank loan and FSA papers with the understanding that she is not signing away the rights to her first-born.
That will come with the yearly taxes.
She should be able to comfort her young children when sometimes the only thing that can be done to help an animal is to euthanize it. It’s just one of those things in life.
But most of all, she needs to understand how closely her husband is connected to the land … because as her children grow, she’ll find that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Without farm moms, there is no next generation of farmers. The farm mother is truly a miracle on earth – right next to heavy duty laundry soap.
Thank God for both.
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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