ask a farmer: top 10 qualities of a female farmer - a response
Originally published: August 17, 2016
It wasn't the term 'farm wife' that offended, many women proudly carry that title and are amazing partners -- they are incredibly smart and get an extraordinary amount of things done in a day to support the family and the family business.
It was the way the author of this article in Farm Talk Newspaper diminished women and their place in agriculture. One by one in his list of "The Top 10 “above and beyond” farm wife qualities" he sought to reinforce negative gender stereotypes and reduce the role of the farm partner to one of mindless errand runner and dinner warmer.
The Female Farmer Project partially exists because of the desire to flip that conversation. So I recruited some help and asked some female farmers what their Top 10 qualities of a female farmer are and boy did they come through! Enjoy!
Elizabeth LaRue of Put some Pork on that Fork
1. She doesn't mind getting manure on her shirt when pulling a calf.
2. She won't hesitate to use the good towels to rub circulation back into a cold newborn.
3. She loves to go to the fair to cheer on the next generation showing their projects.
4. She answers the call at midnight when a neighbor has a piglet stuck and needs a pair of small hands to help.
5. She's remarkably adept at untangling the stupid baler that is jammed... again.
6. She will actually take the time to mend the fence properly, understanding that a shoelace is NOT a durable means of repair.
7. She also will take the time to rinse or remove her boots before she comes inside, because they are designed for repeated removal, and it's not rocket science...
8. She knows how Important it is to remove the burdock BEFORE fall...
9. She can do it all and keep the kids clothed... most of the time.
10. She has amazing tolerance for the other half.
Jen B-k of Owl Tree Farm
10. She can/does clean both houses, barns, and yards....not because it is her job, but because she has PRIDE and believes in doing the job right.
9. She cuts her own flowers because she finds balance between form and function....her farm husband gives her thoughtful and meaningful gifts paying attention to what she wants/needs.
8. She makes her own feed runs in her own big truck and unloads it herself too....she read novels at bedtime when the day is done and the barns are closed for the night.
7. She has her own "pen gyrations" and woe to the human who messes with her electrics!
6. Yep...she can get the groceries, feed, hay, etc all in one trip...any reasonable human can/should be doing that.
5. She hasn't been to a mall in years and years, because it is meaningless. Her work clothes come from resale shops because they are cheap and practical, but when she cleans up, she cleans up well.
4. She can take apart and put back together many things and thus, have her own instructions for the parts counter guy....She also has (by necessity) a pre-prepared speech for said counter guys when they display any form of misogyny that always ends with, "And we will be taking our business elsewhere.
3. She owns both a work hat and a dress-up hat of her own... and yes, her working hat is pink from the college through which she holds three degrees and yes, she can wash it without destroying it, but why bother it will just get dirty again.
2. She can feed the humans and the animals every day. It is a life of Purpose that allows her to nurture the very beings who in turn nurture her.
1. And well hell, everyone minds getting the gates....
I built our website, created/manage our CSA, create and sell beautiful products from our lard & tallow, manage the processing of our livestock, do the books, manage our Farm Stay, manage our household, am the best cattle woman this side of the Mississippi, can pull piglets like a pro, AND teach other farmers how to market their products. Oh and I can chew gum while doing it all.
I have muscles I got from shoveling manure twice a day to keep the goat stalls clean and healthy (and from milking goats). I am smart about business - I work from a model I revise annually, meet with my business partner (my husband) once a month to look at cash flow, future earnings and planning for workshops, farm events and more), I create amazing menus for one great meal a day, I grow food that you can't buy here locally, and I feed lots of folks including the interns in a program I run at my farm. We eat around the table covered in a table cloth with napkins and I do it all with a smile, even when someone calls me "bossy". I am rich in this life and I know it. AND, I can open the gate if I'm in the passenger seat but most times I'm driving!