As harvest season comes to an end for another year, I’d like to take the time to recognize all the relieved farmwives out there.
It’s easy to thank the farmers for all their hard work and long hours, because we often drive by them in the fields and see their lights late into the night. It’s all the hard-working partners behind the fieldwork scenes who I’d like to acknowledge today. My hat goes off to all of us farmwives and other partners, who once again have made it through the dreaded, stressful harvest season!
When you look up the definition of ‘farmwife’, you are simply given “the wife of a farmer”, as per the Collins Online Dictionary. But we are truly so much more! Farmwife may be one title, but – especially on multi-generational farms – many are also a sister, aunt, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister-in-law and so forth. One woman could have many, if not all these titles, which means there are that many, if not more, loved ones for them care and worry about.
Farmwives are also farmhands, chefs, housemaids, taxi drivers, food delivery drivers, etc. The job titles can also be endless.
Being organized and patient is key during a farmwife’s day-to-day routine. Meals have to be ready, but often get fed to different people at different times, depending on who stops in to eat and when. Suppers especially, are often eaten alone, or just with the kids, because the field work needs to get done before the rain comes. Lunchtime is often asked at the last minute to be delivered to the field. Packing the kids into the car and driving around the countryside trying to find the field entrance to eat a packed lunch on a bale in the field is a normal daily occurrence.
Running to town for parts. Cleaning up after the dusty or muddy clothes and boots which come through the house for a quick hello and snack before they take off again. On dairy farms, many wives milk in the morning, get the kids on the bus, and then head back to the barn for the day to ensure all the animals are properly tended to, while the others are focused on completing the field work. The expectations for a farmwife are endless.
Routine goes out the door during harvest season. Each day is different – often very dependent on the weather. Go when you can and don’t stop until its done. The physical stress is demanding, but the psychological stress is even more so. There’s constant worrying that our farmers are overworking themselves. Having to deal with short fuses and grumpy moods, along with lack of sleep. Lonely days and nights. Little communication, intimacy and socialization with each other, can all be very challenging for relationships. We listen to ranting and complaining about broken machinery, other family members or employees and of course the weather, yet we are rarely asked about our day or how we’re coping with everything.
Harvest season is a busy season for all agriculture workers, but from my own experiences I know how the pressures and stressors of everyday farm life double during the busy seasons. Our multitasking abilities are truly put to the test and not always praised or thanked.
So, to my fellow farmwives I say, we did it! Another year has come and gone. Be proud of yourselves, be proud of your loved ones and make sure you all sit back, take a lot of deep breaths, and let out a sigh of relief. Enjoy a good drink, relax, look for the “Big Moon” and spend some peaceful quality time together. You are all amazing and some down time is much deserved!