I am extremely proud to be a fourth generation farmer. My dad and my brother are both fulltime farmers, and have always treated me as an important part of the business, even though I work a fulltime job off the farm. I admire and look up to the hardworking men in my family who have dedicated their lives to the agriculture industry. But with March being recognized as “Women’s History Month”, I am reminded of the great farming women in my family and how I proud I am to be one of them.
My paternal Grandmother Dorothy held a deep love for farming and enjoyed nothing more than traveling out to the mountain pasture farm and checking on her cattle. My Grandmother was highly involved with the bookkeeping of the operation and was deeply conscious of the importance of being frugal with a dollar. My Grandmother passed away in 1996 when I was only about 13 years old; not a day goes by that I don’t wish I could have known her as an adult.
My maternal Grandmother Helen used to cook three huge meals each day for her husband, family, and farm hands who lived with them, all while raising three children. Even today, her kitchen is the central gathering place for everyone on the farm and you will more than likely find her there, wearing a splattered apron, whipping something up for the “boys” to eat. Her invaluable contribution to the success of the family farm cannot be overlooked.
I can’t talk about farm women without talking about my great aunt Ruth. Aunt Ruth just turned 90 years old and I can only hope that I have half her energy when I am 60. Aunt Ruth has been a part of the family farm all her life and you never know where you might find her – running around in her Gator, fixing the fence, tending her chickens, or hoeing her beautiful garden. Aunt Ruth is one of the strongest, most independent women I know. She has never shied away from hard work or work that might typically have been deemed a “man’s job.”
My mom was born and raised on a farm and she loved raking hay in the summertime. For my parents’ first date, my dad took her to a stock sale and drove her there in his cattle truck. He laughs that if she was too good to ride in his truck, then he wasn’t interested. Things must have worked out. In addition to working as our county’s 4-H agent, my mom is our farm’s financial consultant and bookkeeper.
The women in my family have always been, and continue to be, deeply involved with the family business of farming – just like countless other women. We can never overlook the tremendous contributions farm women make to this industry – whether it is as a fulltime farmer, farm wife, part-time helper, or bookkeeper.
I am extremely thankful that from the time I was small I was encouraged to be an active part of the farm. And I am truly honored and humbled to be able to follow in the footsteps of women like my grandmothers, my Aunt Ruth, and my mother.