Since entering the world of farming six years ago, I glean every ounce of information I can find on workshops, seminars, grants and webinars.
I’ve asked old and young farmers about their journeys and received lots of advice — some great and some not so good. I’ve learned that farmers, myself included, don’t talk about the bad stuff that happens in normal conversation.
For example, most nonfarming folk wouldn’t understand the frustration of putting hours into raising livestock, only to find that when it comes time to sell the product, people will say how much cheaper they can get the same product in a large store for less money.
Rain is a nuisance in the average person’s day, but to a farmer, lots of rain in the spring means seeds or plants don’t get set in the ground on time or equipment that needs fixing isn’t able to be fixed until the showers stop.
Most farmers these days need to work at least a part-time job to make a livable wage, and it’s a struggle to try and have supervisors understand the reason for tardiness may be that what should have been a simple trip to the barn in the morning results in an hourlong project to help an ailing animal or a roof that suddenly decided to leak.
It’s easy to see how all of these things can start to wear on a person’s outlook.
If you were raised in a farming family, you know about these highs and lows and probably have learned to predict what needs to be done to avoid some of these happiness suckers. Please don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, even the most seasoned farmer can be knocked back on his or her haunches by pitfalls. If you’ve come to the game later in life, it’s more difficult to find ways to connect with people who are in the same boat as yourself.
I recently came across a Facebook group called Women Farmers Helping Women Farmers, and in my pity party for realizing there was not a group available that was for the middle-aged and stressed-out woman farmer, this site has become a godsend.
After posting on this site a few days ago, I was instantly hearing from women across the nation who have come to the farming game at age 40-plus and are doing amazing things. Most are going it alone, doing what needs to be done for a calling they have felt compelled to do.
For those of us who don’t qualify for the young farmers group, we’re a pretty sassy group of females who aren’t afraid to fire up a tractor, haul hay, drive fence posts in spite of our crow’s feet and age spots we display like badges of honor.
The farming life is not an easy one, but the rewards that are harvested when things go right are huge. Here’s hoping the rest of this early spring is gentle on all farmers and that we continue to do what we do in spite of those obstacles that love to get in our way. I may not be a spring chicken, but spring chickens are headed my way in a few short weeks, and I’ll be ready for them.
Until next time…
Stephanie Strothmann owns Purple Shamrock Farm LLC in rural Seymour. Read her blog at whattheclucker.blogspot.com. Send comments to [email protected]