Monday, September 14, 2015

She Was Beautiful

"Farm Homemaker:" At first glance, the terminology may seem as archaic as wearing pearls, a perfectly-pressed apron and high heels while making dinner for the family. 

But, after spending two days with farm women from Kansas, Iowa, Colorado and Kentucky, my perspective has changed.

I started life as a Farm Daughter. I moved into my role as Farm Wife and Homemaker more than 34 years ago. But I, too, can get caught in the trap of thinking maybe farm women should change their image. Before I went to the National Master Farm Homemaker Guild conference at the end of August, I thought to myself, "Maybe they should change the name to Master Farm Family or Master Farm Partner. Maybe it shouldn't be Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker any longer."

Being a "homemaker" may not be society's ideal job for women any longer. But whether a mom goes to work at an 8-to-5 job at a city high rise office building or is trying to figure out yet another meal to take the harvest field, aren't we all trying to do the best for our families?

Just like other women, farm women come in all shapes and sizes. They are young and old and in between. Some work in the field alongside their husbands. Some keep the books. Some have dinner on the table at 12 noon without fail. Some load up the meal in the car and deliver it places that no Pizza Hut delivery guy could ever hope to find, even with GPS. Some, like my ag-vocate friend, Jen, have a Take Your Child To Work Day on a regular old Friday, not some corporate day designed to assuage Mommy guilt.
Photo by Jenny Burgess, Follow burgesshillfarms on Instagram. Used with permission.
I'm fairly new to the Master Farm Homemaker Guild. We were one of six Kansas farm couples named to the Class of 2013 Master Farmer/Master Farm Homemaker, and we were officially welcomed into the group in March 2014. In Kansas, farm couples have been chosen for this honor for their commitment to agriculture, family and the community since 1927.

The convention in Hutchinson was my first national convention. My mom, Janis Moore, was one of the co-chairs for the convention, along with Lois Schlickau of Haven, so there was no question that I would go and help where needed. My parents have been to several of the national conventions since they were selected as a Kansas Master Farmer/Master Farm Homemaker in 1989.

When I opened my program book and saw the National Master Farm Homemakers Guild Goals, my thoughts about changing the name or the organization itself flew away as swiftly as chaff separates from wheat in a Kansas wind.

The No. 1 goal is:
Place a greater focus on the family and create a greater awareness of problems that are affecting family life today. Demonstrate the highest possible standards of living in our farm homes. Emphasize the positive aspects of farm life.
Who can argue with that? I can't and don't want to.

Other goals that resonated with me were:
2. Encourage our members to be aware and come to the aid of farm families in the U.S., whose livelihoods are threatened by unexpected crisis.
3. Encourage and motivate younger people to become involved with agribusiness.
9. Encourage and assist women to actively participate in community and agricultural organizations.
11. Encourage women to use and promote all farm products.
      A. Be aware of and talk about their nutritional and economic value.
      B. Be more aware of adverse/false statements made about farm products and make every attempt to correct them. 
When I see my Facebook feed stuffed with anti-GMO rhetoric or applause for the "moral decisions" that businesses like Chipolte and Panera are making, I want to be one of those farm homemakers who is speaking out and telling the truth.

Despite using modern technology here on the County Line, we are not a "factory farm." We, like 99 percent of the farms in the U.S., are a family farm. 

It's one reason I blog. I realize I'm not impacting that many people with my little slice of the Internet, but I keep plugging away, trying to make a difference. And the terminology isn't what's important. Call me a Farm Homemaker. Call me a Farm Partner. Call me a Farm Family. It's living out the goals that define me and my peers, not a name.
Photo I took of a farm couple at the 2010 3i show.
During the memorial service at the national convention, Sandra Roberts from Princeton, Kentucky, read the F. Scott Fitzgerald poem, "She was beautiful." (See the photo illustration at the top of this blog post.) Simply put, I loved it.

She also read Sierra Shea's "So God Made A Farmer's Wife." Shea, a South Dakota farm wife, was inspired to write the prose after seeing the Ram truck commercial during the Super Bowl, which featured "So God Made a Farmer," written by Paul Harvey. Click on the link for the whole thing, but here are just a few of the phrases:
And on the 9th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, "Oh, dear, the farmer is going to need help." So God made a farmer's wife. 

God said, "I need somebody who will get up before dawn, make breakfast, work all day in the kitchen, bank, school or alongside her farmer and then come home to fix supper and wash up the dishes." So God make a farmer's wife. 

Somebody who'd sew a family together with the soft strong stitches of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when her daughter says she wants to spend her life "doing what mom does."

So God made a farmer's wife.
So, call me what you'd like. Call me a farm wife ... or a farm partner ... or a farm family .. or a farm homemaker. It's not the terminology that's important. It's the job itself.

My friend and classmate, Diana Hemphill, got these at an auction and then gave them to me. Thanks, Diana! They are beautifully framed, but since I wanted you to be able to read them, I just focused on the cross-stitched words.


  1. Oh so true it is not the terminology I think of myself as all of them at one time or another. Sounds like a wonderful organization. From one farmer to another. sending hugs to a strong person who farms:) Hug B

    1. It's good to hear from you, Miss B!

  2. Kim,

    Sister and I have had discussions about the "title" issue before. It came up when I was working on a blog post about Mom.

    I am very much ok being called a Ranch Wife. I am J's helper outside. I'm not big or strong, but I am very capable of doing a lot. I don't make the big decisions, though I am a good sounding board. I really don't want to make the big decisions. My responsibility is making sure we have good meals, clean laundry and a cozy home to relax in. Oh, and keep up the books and make sure the calendar is up to date and remind J about ... .

    I don't do the same ranch tasks my Mom did when she was my age. I don't do all the same tasks J's Mom did. J is not my Dad or his Dad and he needs different things from me. We are our own team and we know what works for us!

    Sister, would prefer to be called a Shepherd or have an more active title. I am ok with that too.

    Great post, Kim! You and I must be on the same wave as the post I am working on for Monday combines Proverbs Chapter 31 and pictures of the ag women on my Mom's side of the family.

    1. I'm A-OK being on the same wavelength as you, Robyn! I look forward to your blog post.

      I think we can all get hung up on titles and terminology. When the College of Home Economics at K-State changed to the College of Human Ecology, it bothered me for awhile. I thought the time could be more productively spent doing something positive, rather than quibbling about what it was called. I see the same in this "argument." I guess that's what I was trying to get across: No matter what we're called or the different jobs those "titles" entail depending upon our individual circumstances, we are all doing the best we can for our farm families. Thanks for the input!

  3. I haven't heard of the Master Farm Homemaker Guild. It is wonderful to have an organisation that brings farming partners together. Sometimes being on the farm day-in day-out can be quite socially isolating, and non-farmers find it hard to relate to this feeling. So getting together with like minded women would be quite uplifting I would think.

    1. We are fairly new to the Master Farmer/Master Farm Homemaker organization, but my parents have been involved for 25 years and have loved it!