There's a term out there for wives of farmers this time of year. People call us "farm widows" but I'm here to put that term to rest.
The term "farm widow" deserves respect and is reserved for people who are actually that. The real farm widows. I tip my hat to them.
The term I'm talking about is the tongue in cheek phrase people use when referring to the farm wives who are left alone during harvest. People have called me a farm widow. I know they meant no harm, but...
Well, here's what I think about that. (You knew that was coming.)
We're in the thick of things once again, harvesting corn and soybeans here in Northern Illinois. It's the time of year when stress levels run high, weather forecasts can make or break productivity, and a 12-hour work day is considered a short one.
I'm not a farm widow. I'm a mom, wife, farm wife, and a bunch of other things. Farm widow isn't one of them.
I'm lucky I have the opportunity to feed my farmers every day, whether it's a quick tailgate in a field or a drop and go meal. Five minutes of time is better than nothing. At least I know our farmers are eating something good.
I'm not a farm widow - I'm a mom holding down things on the home front while my farmer works long days and nights to support our family. He comes home at the end of each day. I may see him for just a few minutes before he showers and goes to bed, but at least I have him next to me.
Is it lonely? Yes. Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Even our dog is lonely. But I'm pretty sure it's no party working those long hours in the combine, grain cart or semi, either.
It's frustrating when friends or family don't understand the harvest dynamic, and I get that. How would they know? Unless you're involved in a farming operation it's hard to fathom how much harvest temporarily alters your social and family dynamics.
I'm telling you now, find a farm wife friend, an online social group - something that will keep you connected to the outside world. Heck, send me a message! I'm just as lonely as you are. My point is, stay in touch with someone, somehow, to keep yourself sane for these weeks or months. Obviously, I speak from experience here. I've tried to go it alone and it's not pretty.
Is it difficult shuttling around four kids? You bet your bacon it is! Thank goodness for relatives, neighbors and friends for helping shuttle our kids along with their own when I can't be two or three places at once.
We've got sports events, student council meetings and dances for the big kids. Let's talk about homework. Actually, let's not.
The little kids have preschool shuttling, bath time, nap time (which by the way, seems to be diminishing and I'm like NOOOO!!) and all four kids ALWAYS expect dinner so I do that too. That's what mom's do.
The days are looooong. Everyone wants a piece of me. It's a blessing, albeit a noisy, tornado sort of blessing somedays. When they go to bed I shut off the TV and sit in the silence for just a few minutes so I can enjoy quiet. Sweet, sweet, quiet.
And let's talk about daylight saving time, or not saving time, or however it is that works. All I know is this - when the time changes it feels like 9:30 pm when I'm cooking dinner. I'm really ready to put my pajamas on by 6 pm. Why, why, why??? Why does it have to be so dark when I'm lonely and my farmer is stuck working his butt off in the dark? It's like a cruel punishment that doesn't make sense to me.
But here's what makes sense.
I'm know right where I'm meant to be and there's peace in that. I'm proud of what our farm family does. The long hours our family farmers work is a badge of honor and they wear it proudly. I support them 100%.
It takes a special person to do what farmers do. They love the land, they care for it using the best ways they know how. They nurture soil, crops and take care of massive equipment. Acres and acres of land is a lot to carry but you better believe no one can handle it like a farmer.
I'm a proud farmer's wife, a farmer in training, a wife, a mother, counselor, resident butt wiper, home cook, dog sitter, and a bunch of other things rolled into one. But I'm not a farm widow.
If you're feeling lonely this harvest season, remember - you're not alone. We're all in this together, no matter where you are - and harvest doesn't last forever. Stay in touch with someone. Give your farmer a quick call or text to let them know you're thinking of them. Stay busy, stay positive, stay in touch.
I wish you and all farmers a safe and bountiful harvest! And I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Made with love,
Deanne, you are spot on. I have another suggestion, if a wife or friend or neighbor wants to pitch in...stop out in the field with a cookie and a pop. After school, the kids and I would do this for dad, uncle, and grandpa and you couldn't believe how they all loved seeing the kids! I wonder why I ever quit that? Great reminder of who I am. Thanks
Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids
Great post Deanne! Everyone is part of the team that makes the family and farm both run. 🙂
Melissa Burrs from Iowa
What a fabulous article! It has touched my heart and I'm happy to have stumbled upon it. Thank you for sharing.❤️
Thanks Melissa! It makes my heart happy to hear those words!
I am a farmer’s wife and I hate it. I met my husband when he was working at a church. We became engaged and discussed moving and raising a family. I don’t remember if he decided before or after marriage to go into his family farm business but he told me a bunch of lies. He said he would be home in the winters and we would travel. He said he would be home when it rained and that the kids could visit him and he would be around for various activities. We moved and had 3 kids in a very small time without trying. I live around his family. I had no friends, no family and no sanity. I was forced to raise 3 small kids all wearing diapers almost single handed. My family visited 2 times a year and that helped a little. I am homeschooling my kids and I am told to do everything on my own the hard way. Cook mainly from scratch, grow the garden, water and harvest it alone, raise my 2,3,4 year old and be in charge of the spiritual, social and education. Stay home in a 2 bedroom house ( which they share 1 room) and keep the house clean and laundry done. My husband doesn’t own the farm. He works year round for $15 an hr and zero benefits and zero vacation or time and half. I was sick almost the first 3 years we lived here between pregnancy, sinus disease and just sheer exhaustion. My husband doesn’t take my kids to dance, tumbling or learn to swim. He occasionally can see them do it but otherwise it is up to me. He works when it rains, he works during winter or he only brings home $600. Try living a family of 5 on that. He has a degree and I have a college degree. It is so hard to live such poverty and be home alone like 24/7 with my kids. I feel the weight of all of this on me. I am a Christian who believes in Jesus and I am in a bible study. My husband won’t let go of his dream to make sure we are all growing physically and spiritually. He won’t even try another job. He works for his family and is treated like this. I don’t want to continue this miserable lifestyle.
I’m glad others have support but there is a real reason why farming has less than 2% of the job market anymore .
I really do feel like a farm widow.
Hi Sarah, I'm so sorry that you're going through this. Every family, every farm, has a different way of operating. It's true that working for family has its own set of challenges, too. I hope you can find the peace and balance you're looking for. Thinking of you, farm friend.
Sandra at Thistle Cove Farm
Thank you. As a widow who was, and is, the farmer I've always cringed at how the term is misused. It's simply impossible for anyone to imagine being a widow. Since Dave's death more than a decade ago, I've stayed busy and mostly stayed positive to keep the dream alive. Farming wasn't his dream but it was mine and he did everything possible to make it happen and God continues to bless me even among the heart ache and loneliness.