"Boy, that smells good," my hubby said when he walked through the door at noon. He barely had enough time to breathe in the aroma from the bubbly, baking casserole before he asked, "What are you doing this afternoon?"
OK. I've been doing this farm wife thing a year or two (or 29, if you want to get specific). I was pretty sure he didn't want a rundown of all the things I was planning to cross off my to-do list in the afternoon.
"Well, it sounds like it's not going to be what I planned to do, right?" I asked my favorite farmer.
So, what were my clues? First off, I have a hot noon meal ready pretty much every day when he walks through the door. So it usually smells pretty good around here (... if I do say so myself. Of course, in this instance, I don't have to say it myself because he said it for me. OK, back to the story ...)
Secondly, he doesn't usually want a detailed list of my every activity planned for the day.
So when he asked, "What are you doing this afternoon?" I knew it was Farmer Code for "I have a job for you this afternoon."
Am I a detective or what? No, I am simply a savvy Farm Wife who has been around the section a time or two.
In this case, I wasn't getting sent around the section. Instead, I was off to retrieve a swather part in Hutchinson. The swather had a major breakdown last Friday.
Here is another inevitable fact of farm life: Major breakdowns are prone to happen on a holiday weekend, when there is absolutely no hope of the problem being solved before the mechanics leave for an extra day off.
This was no small problem. It had to be hauled to Hutchinson in the back of the cattle trailer because it was too long for a pickup bed. Randy took it to Hutch last Friday, and he was surprised and thrilled that it was already repaired and ready to be picked up.
He was busy planting. Jake was busy working ground. So Farm Wife to the rescue!
I am not vain. But I do draw the line at scaring the poor guys at the Case dealership with my appearance. With no warning about my impending trip, I had not showered after my hour-long workout. My hair resembled the Stick 'Em Up Hair doll I've written about before (Kim's County Line, March 16, 2010: A Living Doll).
I realize I probably would not be as "fragrant" as the farmers covered in oil and grease who had just wrestled with a tractor or swather and were lined up at the parts counter in dire need of just the right part.
But, still, the parts guys do know me by name, so I did the best I could with a little makeup and a little water.
The next problem? I am just fine with driving the pickup and trailer. Hooking it up by myself is another story.
"They'll help you hook it up," Randy assured me.
"Have you personally talked to them and asked if they could do that?" I asked.
Another Farm Wife 101 Rule: If at all possible, have your farmer do the negotiations. It is best if he smooths the path for you. It is best when he talks directly to the parts guy about what part he wants. It is best if the appropriate part is already laid on the counter with your name on it by the time you arrive. It is best that your biggest job is signing your name on the bottom of the sales ticket.
If that sounds like I'm not upholding my end of the "I am woman, hear me roar" mantra from the women's lib movement, that's OK. Everyone is happier with this scenario.
If this transaction has not occurred, it is inevitable the parts guy will ask a question for which there is no answer in your vocabulary. Sorry, but that's the truth.
Cell phones are a great boon to the Farm Wife. But they are most beneficial when your farmer husband has used HIS to call ahead and make sure he is getting what he wants.
And yes, a nice man did help me hook up the trailer. I won't say it was without challenges. It's tough to back up with the fuel tank in the pickup blocking the view. But my helper adjusted for this obstacle. I have been reading male hand signals since I was a little farm girl in Pratt County, so we got the job done.
Yes, I went to Hutchinson yesterday afternoon. My trip did not include a stop at my favorite location - the Hutchinson Public Library. It did not include errands at WalMart, another usual "must do" when going to the "big city."
But I did get to see my friends at Case.
And I did make my husband happy.