Recently, a dear friend and farm-wife, Karen, said she had a “special” t-shirt for me. She said she knew I would just love it. When anyone says they have a gift for me, I am all over it. Even t-shirts. Those who know me well know I am really not a die-hard t-shirt gal, and I was skeptical to see what it said (I do have standards) but this t-shirt won my heart. It said quite simply, “I vow to love you even during planting and harvest.” Boom.
Now, my farm-wife girlfriends all know that I could end the story here. They get it. But why not share with those who aren’t farm wives, (or sisters, daughters, mothers, grandmothers — we are all part of a special club) just why we all silently think that surely, goodness and mercy will follow every farm woman all the way to heaven where there will be a special room for her!
As soon as the calendar rolls past Labor day, the “change” begins. Suddenly, they (for future reference, they will represent “our farmers”) are all behind schedule. They have to get the combine ready, the semi, tractors, seed tenders, drills — you name it. They’re too busy to be bothered. Seriously, if you didn’t get a honey-do project out of him by now, forget it until after the first of the year.
Our ability to “go out of town” for any type of shopping is suddenly curtailed. As an experienced farm-wife of 37 years, let me tell the young brides — just don’t even think about venturing too far away, even when it seems like everything is running perfectly, you have taken them lunch or supper, and they seem happy. Because as soon as you get out of the county, they WILL call. And from experience, I can tell you it’s just not fun explaining why you weren’t within a two minute radius to save the day.
A cardinal rule is to always have your cell phone with you, no matter where you go. Because if you don’t, they will call at that exact moment. And again, it’s not fun to explain “why” you didn’t have it glued to your hip when they need you now!!!
There was a blog earlier this fall http://foodandswine.com/2016/10/27/for-the-harvest-jerk/ about tips for not being a jerk at harvest. The author obviously struck a very large chord because it went viral. I don’t intend to duplicate what she shared, but it was an enjoyable read and my favorite was probably the one about delivering the evening meal. Why are they always at the other end of the field?
Weather plays such a vital role in farming. The years where the weather is perfect are rare. This year was challenging. There was way too much rain earlier, and it seemed there were days the “liquid gold” as our farm broadcaster, Dale Minyo likes to call it, wouldn’t shut off. Then it turned dry, and while drier was better, too dry at harvest is not good for a few reasons — the worst being threat of a combine fire. (Please make sure your guys all have fire extinguishers in all the vehicles!)
It was early October, really dry, and it was “time.” It was time when another farm wife might ask, sure is dry, isn’t it? And all you had to do was give each other “the look.” You could read each other’s mind. It really meant that we need it to rain, and rain right now, because my farmer is dead tired and grumpy. When he comments when you’re driving him back the lane way after dark that you really need to take the bike carrier off the back of your SUV because it’s getting dirty you KNOW he needs a nap, a long one.
Regardless, the stress at harvest is real. We all have plenty on the line. Commodity prices have been in the tank, and doggone but the USDA just may have been right a few reports ago about how yields may be bigger than we think.
Yes, I do vow to love you even during planting and harvest. Because although it can be a hard and demanding life, I don’t have to question that you are doing what you love to do. In spite of what many urban folks might think, you truly want to leave the soil better than you were given it. You wouldn’t question standing for our national anthem. No one works harder or longer than our guys do, and it is hard to zip it when we’re all tired. But the one thing we farm women do know is that we do love you all even when it’s planting and harvest. We vow.