Monday, July 11, 2011
Heart and Soul: Rural Women
As we reach mid-summer and our gardens become plentiful and the hay-making is in full swing, I can't help but think about farm and ranch wives and the dynamic roles they play to help their operation - whether it be a 10 acre piece of land with one field and a vegetable garden or a 30,000 acre ranch with 3,000 head of mama cows. I'd like to take a break from my information-based posts and for the next few days to talk about my beliefs and convictions.
As most farmers and ranchers in any sector of the agriculture industry will be quick to tell you, far more times than not it is the female of the household that is the heart and soul of their operation. And so many times these women are easily over-looked in all that they do - whether it is weeding the garden, pulling 3 calves in the middle of the night in a blizzard by the glow of the headlights, setting out hay before they leave for work in the mornings, getting the kids safely off to school - lunch boxes and bookbags in tow, hooking up the trailer, loading the calves, or doing laundry and having a good meal ready for her family. All women play a different role in their family's rural lifestyle.
Growing up on a farm with a strong woman as my mother, I learned a lot from her. It never ceases to amaze me of the woman that my ma is - she can cook, can, or preserve just about anything, work 8 hours straight in the blistering sun and never complain once, cook 3 meals a day, pull a calf (or 4), help skin a deer, and remain the rock of faith that holds our family together. She is my undying supporter and best friend, my role model and confidant. One thing I know for certain, she learned her ways from her mother, my grandmother. My grandmother was a farmer's wife as well, and I have also seen her slave away in the sun, get up at 4:30 to make my pap breakfast, and I recall my mom telling me stories about my grandmother pulling pigs and calves, raising ducks, chickens, cows, sows, and horses, all while raising 9 kids. And I am certain of one thing: my grandmother undoubtedly learned these things from her mother.
My dad's mother - Nan, as I call her - was the daughter of a farm woman as well. I enjoy nothing more than to sit and listen to my Nan talk about her mother, my great-grandmother, and all that she could do. My Nan is the wife of a farmer (my Pap!), who was the son of another strong, steadfast farm woman. My nan and pap raised two children - one of which grew up to farm the place I grew up on (my dad!) and a daughter who raised a son, my cousin, to also have the love of farming in his heart. To me, these women seemed invincible. I find it astonishing how, even though my aunt does not live on a farm herself, still finds joy in working outside and raised her son to love the land and agriculture. It goes without being said, farming is a heritage. It is a lifestyle that runs deep as blood, and though the males - fathers, sons, husbands - are the roots, the women seem to be the undoubted heart and soul. I hope to one day become a farm wife and maybe even raise a daughter or two that look at me the same way I look at my ma and the other women in my life. Who knows? Maybe she'll raise a farm wife too...