What I Have Learned Being A Farmer's Wife

When I first married my farmer I don't think I ever fully realized how the past I had before him would be so helpful in my future with him.

I have always been involved in the Ag industry. It started with 4-H and showing horses and sheep and then moved on to FFA when I was in high school. And then everything just flowed naturally to college. It felt perfect for me to head to Purdue University and pursue a degree in Agricultural Education.

I was completely involved in everything I could be that involved agriculture. Then I met my farmer and moved to the farm. And I everything I had "learned" was now something I could apply every day. And for once I felt like my past, my present in education, and my future with my farmer came full circle.

And every day I find myself using all my skills and knowledge from my past to apply them to what is going on on our farm. But, there have also been quite a few things I have learned. Ok, may a whole lot of things.

1. Timing is everything. On our farm the livestock have to come first. And that is a concept I get, for sure. But, one thing I didn't really grasp right away was the timing of the crops. My hubby tells me stories of combining through the night to finish the last field before an early ice storm came in. And I have stayed in the grain cart until well past midnight to try and get as much done as possible before we were going to have a full day of rain. And sometimes the timing isn't perfect. Sometimes cattle get out right when you are walking out the door on your first date in a month.

2. Learn how to do it all, if you want it done soon. My husband and I always seem to have a list of projects that we want to do around the house. Well, ok, maybe my list is a lot longer than his. And since the farm pretty much gets all our time, you can probably get that our home projects are always done last. Luckily, I have a degree in Agricultural Education, which means I took a lot of classes in relation to agriculture. And shop classes, mechanics, electricity, and welding, are all classes that I have taken and being able to have that knowledge is pretty handy. So having the knowledge of power tools is super helpful, especially when I am dying to build and hang shelves downstairs in our basement.

3. Dinner or lunch will rarely ever happen on time. So, be prepared to reheat or keep warm.

4. Dinner will also almost always be requested to be in the field about ten minutes before the noon hour and you have already laid out spaghetti on the table. So, having a back up in the freezer is ideal. Hamburgers work great.

Delivering lunch to the field.

5. When you are asked to help for just a little bit be sure to pack a bag. With water, a snack, toddler toys, bottles, sippy cups, diapers, wipes, and pretty much anything else you can think of that you might need for at least half a day. I can't tell you how many times I have been asked to help for a little bit, only to end up being at the farm the rest of the day and night. Which is fine if it's just me. But, when you add a little one in the mix you always have to have a bag ready.

6. During harvest or planting pretty much plan on doing it all. Sometimes I already feel like I do it all around our house. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, yard work, maintenance, painting, small repairs, but during the fall and the spring it's pretty much essential to know you are on your own. And that means wrangling your child everywhere you need to be. When Ellie was a baby I took her to a few different Ag related events that I needed to be at. She has sat quietly sleeping in her car seat during business meetings I have had or conference calls. It's imperative to be prepared for those seasons!

Having a meeting at South Dakota Soybean with my crawler.

I have learned so much being a farmer's wife. But, more than that I feel like I have truly contributed. I have good ideas and I really value that my hubby listens to my ideas and respects them. And even more importantly, I have learned that as a farmer's wife I am always, always learning. Every day is a new adventure and I learn something new about our farm and why we do things a certain way nearly every week.

My advice to any future farm wives...Always keep learning and always keep asking questions!

Being A Woman In A Man's World

Now, this post is for all you women out there. Women that have the dream of marrying their farmer and working along side him every day and can't picture yourself anywhere else.

Being involved in the American Ag Industry is typically two things. Being white and being a male. Welcome to your typical "man's world".

Back when I started just getting involved in the Ag industry, in high school, it was predominately boys. For ten years I have gotten the pleasure to see things change a little bit, not much, but we are always evolving.

It still isn't common to find women who are the matriarch of the family farm. But, they tend to be the glue that keeps the entire family and business together and running smoothly. Women are typically in the background and they do all the unseen work. Like the bookwork, paying bills, cooking three hot meals a day, raising children, picking up parts, giving rides…and the list can really go on and on.

It isn't typical to see women standing up and taking leadership roles in some of the large agricultural associations. But, this last year National Corn Growers had a woman president.

You most likely won't see women sitting next to their husband's learning as much as they can about building a new feed lot facility. But, at the last seminar I went to alone, I was surprised to see wives sitting along side their husband's taking notes and running numbers.

I obviously haven't been involved in the industry for centuries, but even just seeing a change over the last ten years is amazing to me and extremely motivating. It pushes me, as a woman, to continue fighting to be a part of a man's world.

When I first married my husband I would say that he let me work alongside him every day, and SOMETIMES took the suggestions I had and actually thought about them.

Now, I would easily say that when we discuss future endeavors we are together and listening to each other's thoughts and opinions. He truly makes me feel like I am on the same level as him, and that is so rewarding. Rewarding that he values and respects my opinion is such a wonderful part of our relationship.

It's one thing for a man to listen to what you have to say, it's another when you can see them ACTIVELY listening, asking questions, and engaging you to get your own thoughts on a certain project.

If you want to be a woman entering this man's world make sure you make it known up front. If you want to be like me and be beside your husband every day, working every single part of the operation make it known from the beginning. If you would rather do a few things here and there, keep house, cook, and raise children- make sure you make it known. If you want to stay in town and continue to have a career- do it.

In the beginning it was decided once I was done with college I wouldn't start teaching, I would instead join the farm. Before we had our daughter I worked with my husband whenever he needed me. Even if it was something as simple as cleaning out a tractor. I worked alongside him. Now with our daughter I don't get to work alongside him as much as I want to. But, I make sure he comes home to a clean house and a home cooked meal.

My husband is supportive of whatever career choice I decide to choose and as our marriage and relationship grows I realize more and more that I enjoy working with him everyday now, more than ever before. Because now I my opinion is valued in his world.

Fixing a feed bunk cable as a family on a Sunday.