Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Ag Day 2018: Farm Partner? Farm Wife? Farm Homemaker?

"Farm Homemaker:"

At first glance, the terminology may seem as archaic as wearing pearls, a perfectly-pressed apron and high heels in "Leave It To Beaver"-style while making dinner for the family.

But on this Ag Day 2018, I will wear the label with pride.
I started life as a Farm Daughter. I moved into my role as Farm Wife and Homemaker almost 37 years ago. But I, too, can get caught in the trap of thinking maybe farm women should change their image. Before I went to my first National Master Farm Homemaker Guild conference back in 2015,  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.
Photo by Jenny Burgess, Follow burgesshillfarms on Instagram. Used with permission.
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. Earlier this month at the annual convention in Manhattan, I ended my term as treasurer of the Kansas organization and started my duties as secretary. Randy is doing a similar stair-step procedure through the Master Farmer offices. We'll be presidents of our respective arms of the organization at the same time.

Since 1927, Kansas farm couples have been chosen as Master Farmers and Master Farm Homemakers for their commitment to agriculture, family and the community.

My thoughts about changing the name or the organization itself flew away as swiftly as chaff separates from wheat in a Kansas wind once I saw the National Master Farm Homemakers Guild Goals.

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 restaurants say they are making, I want to be one of those farm homemakers who is speaking out and telling the truth. (I refuse to give any "ink" to name those restaurants, and I won't use my hard-earned money at them either!)

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, on this Ag Day 2018, call me what you'd like. 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.
For a previous post on Ag Day, click on this link.

This post was revised from an earlier one on Kim's County Line.


  1. I loved "So God Made A Farmer" by Paul Harvey. I really liked his perspective on things...and "So God Made A Farmer's Wife" is just as good! I think that those who don't experience it just can't quite wrap their minds around all that entails. Good for you for being an ag-vocate!!