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Farmwoman Musings

December 12, 2012
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Acouple of conversations with women this last week gave me some food for thought.  First I connected with someone I knew a long time ago, after the usual bragging about children’s degrees, general gossip, and questions about professions,  or lack thereof, it became apparent to me just how many people look down on farmers still, and even more on farm wives, and women who are farmers and farm wives combined.

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After all the niceties were out of the way the conversation went something like this:

“What are you doing these days, still farming?”

“Yeah, still farming, no more chickens, just beef and concentrating on growing most of our own food.”

“Oh…well you know you can go down and get cheap food at the grange.  I go every week and you wouldn’t believe the stuff they have there, even organic bread.”

“Hmmm, yeah I have heard they have quite an array of overbake, and old produce down there…”   (I’m thinking, yuk, she’s thinking, yum.)

“You really should go, it’s fun looking through all the stuff, then you wouldn’t have to garden, and farm, and did I mention cheap?”

At this point I realized that there was no point in saying I would go to the grange or not, my idea of foraging was completely different than hers, and my idea of worthy professions was quite different also.  In school I was the A+ student in home ec, and she was the activist who begrudgingly took home ec and announced it wasn’t for her.

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It’s funny after all these years I am still steeping myself in home economics and she is dependent on others for her staff of life.  Go figure.  Fast forward a few days and I’m at the stable where my daughter takes riding lessons.  While she is tacking up, the stable owner ( a friend and colleague) and I are going over our garden and cooking list and hatching a plan to trade potatoes for cabbage.  I was able to squeak in a canner load of chicken stock before the lesson that morning, and she had picked peas from her new moveable greenhouse, there was no bragging, or snarkiness, just like-minded individuals yakking.  She had just had a similar conversation with one of her acquaintances who admonished her for cooking all the time.  Who would want to do that?   As if, that is all she does.  She  owns a diagnostic lab (and works there), she gardens, cooks, takes care of a herd of horses, teaches the finer points of horsemanship,  and she is of retirement age and puts in longer hours than many 30 somethings I know.  And she is self-reliant.

I have to say farm wife is too restrictive when it comes to describing what farm wives do.  Farm woman?  Does that suit better?  I have no idea, but farm wives deserve some street cred when it comes to juggling house and farm keeping.  Maybe street cred isn’t the correct term, lane cred perhaps?

first taste

first taste

We have to be the royal taster…

chop wood

chop wood

Most likely the head wood chopper…

haul water

haul water

Haul water constantly.

scrub

scrub

Scrub gross things in the house and in the barnyard.

pie crust

pie crust

Bake pies for those days when you need a knight with a shining cat to pull you out of a snowbank after he gets home from slaying dragons in the city.

rescued

rescued

But it’s a great way to live, dog hair and all.

me and my dog boys

me and my dog boys

So what do you think all you farm wives or someday-to-be farm wives, do we need a different title?

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78 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2012 10:48 am

    We be the dragons of farmering, here us roar! :P I will be interested in what the other ladies come up with.. I had a friend once, she would come to visit for the first year or two and stand around telling me all about the “possablity’s” she could see if I just bought this or that for the farm

    The moment it really hit home was when she asked, how long did I think it would be before we bought a vehcile for “town use only”, really??! I just did my best to let it go…

  2. December 12, 2012 10:56 am

    I just say I’m the farmer, when someone starts asking questions of my husband. Of course, I am also cook, mender, mother of 4 sons, support system for activities and general all round organizer. I grew up on a dairy farm and am delighted to be able to continue teaching our family important lessons on the farm and providing much of our own garden foods fresh and stored.

  3. December 12, 2012 11:14 am

    How about ecosystem manager

  4. lemonpuss permalink
    December 12, 2012 11:26 am

    So nice to see a grinning pic of you.

    This has brought me out of lurking, this question about what to call yourself, and not being mainstream. There’s something about the add-on of wife that seems to make passive, at least when used by mainstream folks around here, the unbelievably hard job of a farmer’s wife. Like the father is out doing the “real” or “hard”work. Can’t you just be a farmer, too? (I’d say we, but I’m still gazing at my eight acres of meadow and dreaming of the family-sustaining garden that I’m creating there instead of actually working a big garden.) Like waitress and actress have been dropped for the more gender- free waiter and actor, I’m for streamlining.

    I don’t feel quaint, like a rebel, or nutty, but I’m definitely not like most of the folks I grew up with. Now, my self-selected group of friends just show up for a visit with a pie in hand and leave with a dozen of our eggs.

    And I didn’t fit in as a kid, either. My suburban home-ec class had 22 final projects that were pillows or tote bags and my solitary long sleeved blouse with notched cooler and button packet. I should have known I’d end up where I did. :)

  5. December 12, 2012 11:31 am

    The braids behind the brawn

    • lemonpuss permalink
      December 12, 2012 1:56 pm

      The braids with the brawn!
      Love it.

  6. December 12, 2012 11:34 am

    I can also add She Who Must Be Obeyed….and I had a friend in TN once who made farm Tshirts that had the tag line “putting the girl back in agirlculture”. So, Agirlculturalist?

  7. December 12, 2012 11:41 am

    God yes. People ask me what I do and I say I AM a FARMER. I grow food. I don’t care how small our farmy is. John works off the farm so I am the bloody farmer thank you very much. (When I am not a writer, housekeeper, cook, manager, designer, nurse and etc). I do object to the term farmers wife.
    And just tell me about all those people who are wondering why we milk a cow, why we grow vegetables, roast lamb any day of the week, have a dog food freezer, – you can’t feed dogs meat – they shriek!
    - You cook from Scratch? they ask. Shocked.
    - What is Scratch? I said. When I first came to the US. I was genuinely bewildered. Is there another way of cooking I thought? is Scratch a chopping technique? Am I to Scratch about for ingredients?
    They would have to think before they answered me. Well, they would say, Scratch is, you know, when you make your own, no hamburger helper or nothin’. Cakes with butter. Potatoes. Spaghetti sauce. Stuff like that. Not frozen. You know.. scratch, and they would nod helpfully.
    You mean do I cook my food using food? I would ask them, still honestly trying to get a handle on what they were saying. Is there another way?
    I have had this discussion so often!
    Then just to really mess with their minds I tell them that I do not eat any processed foods. They look at me as though I am a ghost… But what do you eat? Is usually the next question. Then I start explaining all over again.
    I have to stop now, I could go on forever! c

    • December 12, 2012 7:58 pm

      Love your experiences with people and their questions. You are for real!

  8. Rita permalink
    December 12, 2012 11:43 am

    This city girl loves the tales of your life and would never disparage what you do. I rely on all you women, and men for my sustenance. Cheap is never my goal, quality at any price is usually my mantra.

  9. December 12, 2012 11:50 am

    I am not a farmer but a consumer who very much admires and respects what you do. I write the blog for the local food market and can not believe that people just do not “get” it. That they still prefer the frozen cardboard meals they can nuke and the take out grease laden flavorless stuff instead of cooking from scratch. And when I ask why they say no time and then they tell me abotu the shows on tv they watch. A mind is a horrible thing to waste.

  10. December 12, 2012 11:52 am

    Oh, that last photo just filled my (windowless, climate-controlled) office with joy! Thank you!

    Maybe one of you fabulous farm women will suggest a a title that I can hijack for my husband who keeps the homestead running as well – talk about a lack of respect in the acquaintance circle…

  11. December 12, 2012 11:58 am

    I was the first in my family to attend college (worked my way through), got multiple degrees, accolades, fancy jobs with perks and travel, worked my way up at every company. My grandparents who were farmers were so proud of me although they had no clue what I did. I hated every minute of it.

    Now that I am out of the politics (truly poop slinging), arbitrary deadlines and company-imposed stress, working for myself instead of so that I could pay faceless others to walk my dogs, clean my house, raise my kids, grow my factory food, I have never been happier.

    It’s a false sense of accomplishment, working in a house of cards to build a false economy. It lures you into consumerism that chains you to a lifestyle not of your choosing. I think anyone who reads you blog probably recognizes what you already know. Your simple, self reliant life is the road to true happiness.

    If she were truly happy with her lifetime of achievements she would not have felt the need (as you did not) to suggest she live her life differently. You have no need to build street cred, Nita. Those people still living in their dollhouses won’t get it until their reality is shattered anyway. And those of us with one foot firmly in the soil already get it.

    It was so fun to finally see a shot of you – your smile says it all! xo!

    • girlgonegranola permalink
      December 12, 2012 12:20 pm

      So well said! :)

    • Rita permalink
      December 12, 2012 12:41 pm

      Yes, it was nice to finally see a full photo of Nita. I’m on my way to PDX tomorrow, maybe I’ll do my stalking routine again. Would love to see the farm.

  12. Lorlee permalink
    December 12, 2012 12:06 pm

    Whatever you call yourself, I simply enjoy reading because of the breadth of knowledge and the joy that shine through. The last photo says it all. Thank you.

  13. girlgonegranola permalink
    December 12, 2012 12:18 pm

    I’m perfectly content being known as the Chief Farm Chick at Boggy Hollow Farm. :)

  14. December 12, 2012 12:20 pm

    People who don’t understand will never understand until they try it themselves. It’s similar to those people who call mothers ‘just mothers’. “Oh, you’re just a Mum?” There is no ‘just’ about it, it’s one of the hardest jobs in the world to do it well. But I didn’t know that until I tried it!

    But if I had to vote, I’d put one in for ‘Braids behind the Brawn’ ;)

  15. December 12, 2012 12:34 pm

    The French word is ‘Agricultrice’ which is pretty cool, but Jean goes with Agricultrix.

    • December 12, 2012 1:13 pm

      Brent, that sounds pretty good, I was think of Ruminatrix myself but Jane is fighting me for that one ;)

      • December 14, 2012 9:04 am

        Ruminatrix is an excellent name, although it might better suit the queen cow. There’s also “éleveur”, which is someone who raises animals. This has a feminine form of “éleveuse” which sounds sexy in a Gascon accent.

  16. Lorraine permalink
    December 12, 2012 12:58 pm

    I have recently begun to think of myself as a farmer. I am not a farmer’s wife. I am a lawyer’s wife. I raise son’s, rabbits, and vegetables. I trade with other farmers–incidentally all women at this time–for other meat and produce. I have never been happier, and I love reading your blog. I learn from you, am inspired by you, and am so very glad that you share your life with us. I say call yourself farmer, or farm wife, or mom—or whatever is on your mind at the moment. It’s all good. When I tell my husband whatever inspirational thing you blogged about today, I will call you the woman from Trapper Creek.

  17. December 12, 2012 1:28 pm

    I’m a young woman of 24, planning a farm with my father. He is almost 60 and therefore I will be doing most of the work, even more as the years go on. I think that times are changing and more and more women and men are becoming aware and concerned about gender equality.

    “Farm Wife” does have a submissive or second rate connotation to it. I agree with lemonpuss that farmer needs to be a gender neutral term, like actor or server. I will be the farmer of my farm, and what ever man ends up as my partner will have to bow to me! Just kidding!

    As a society, I think we have a long way to go, but I do believe that we are moving towards gender equality overall. Especially in career choices; more women and being farmers, fishermen, construction workers, etc, jobs historically dominated by men.

    As for people looking down on farmers, that is also changing. More and more people are being educated on the importance of sustainably grown, local food. They are more reverent to the farmers that grow the food, especially if they know them personally. Also, more young people are interested in learning homesteading skills and moving away from the city. These are lost skills that need to be (proudly!) reclaimed. The conveniences of modern life are not sustainable, and sooner than later I think that everyone will be forced to start “cooking all the time from scratch” whether they like it or not! And we will all be one step ahead of them!

    So the next time someone looks down on you for being a farmer/homesteader/scratch cook, just smile nicely and know that what you are doing is a beautiful, wonderful thing. I know I do!

    Farmer Sonja

  18. December 12, 2012 1:30 pm

    Oh, I love that photo of you! So happy and strong. I also just call myself a farmer. The boss and I are pretty equal in what we contribute to the operation and I think we women in ag should be recognized for our contributions rather than looked down upon. I would have been grinding my teeth at the first lady. lol

  19. December 12, 2012 1:54 pm

    Oh boy…doesn’t matter what you call it, but I just love coming here and seeing someone who is so completely OK in their own skin. Even if I wouldn’t fit in that skin or role! Kudos to you :)

    • December 12, 2012 5:59 pm

      So true Myrnie. I want to live in a world where people don’t need to label, categorize and prioritize everyone they meet. Says a lot more about their superficiality – That sort of conversation could not bore me more these days.

      I’d much rather talk vegetable harvest and cow.

  20. December 12, 2012 2:00 pm

    How about Heritage Conservationist? Local food craftsperson (craftsman)? Resilience technician? Food security advisor? Farm specialist? Alternative guru? Farm/food production specialist? Content?

    An important concept I got from Sharon Astyk (SharonAstyk.com), is the informal economy, as opposed to the formal economy. We all hear about the formal economy in the news. It is measured in Gross National Product, and dollars, and trillion$ of debt. The informal economy is the network of neighbors and friends sharing tools and favors, it is chores being done because they need doing, and any measurement in money is very obscure.

    Farm wife used to be a well-respected vocation. Then the Race to Space (Kennedy era), and the women sent to factories for WWII started opening up other venues. Your “professional” friend lives, entirely, in the formal economy. Expenses, responsibilities, resources — these are all measured in (significant) dollars or are mere dust on the windshield.

    Those that make big fortunes, that wield lots of authority, that managed their way to the top of the formal economy, these are all heavily invested in the US Department of Education and mass media advertising, The Dept of Ed is meant to prepare factory workers and engineers that keep the formal economy growing — by stripping out all the best children in any community, and diverting them into professions and occupations that generate wealth for those at the top. This cripples the informal economy, which you can observe by counting ghost towns, shrinking small towns, schools consolidating, and children diverted from disciplined homes to commercial music, games, and other “entertainments”. And how the average age of farmers is 59-60 or older, and how family farms are more often gone, or incorporated.

    Farm wife is mostly about the informal economy. Her work, her successes and failures, and most of her resources seem minimal, measured in dollars. In the informal economy, she, like many other wives, empower what used to make America, America. The basic values. Understanding food and family. Recognizing the cost of buying rather than making or making do. Raising children to be Americans, rather than American workers.

    A farm wife’s achievements, and career path, cannot be measured in dollars, and that puts her completely outside the world of those that live, fully, in the formal economy.

    One of the minor social trends in recent years has been the Transition movement. The Transition premise is that the formal economy is in the process of breaking down. Take your pick for the cause(s): End of cheap energy/rest of the world using the oil being produced, climate change devastating food production and wealth patterns, explosive growth of unsecured debt (speculation, bundled mortgages, runaway government spending). So Transition focuses on learning to live with less of the goods transported long distances, less energy, and relying more on local sources of food and other goods, and on self-renewing resources.

    The farm wife actively lives the skills and crafts that many people are scrambling to learn. Don’t look for recognition from those in the formal economy. Most of those scrambling have been shut out, or left, the formal economy; President Obama’s unemployment figures didn’t drop to 8% because people got hired; he just quit counting those that were inconvenient to the formal economy.

    • December 13, 2012 4:26 am

      Yes, that’s where I am, in the informal economy. Tag sales for shopping, re-using/ re-purposing from pack-ratted things, growing as much of my own food as I can, doing all the work ourselves, making things instead of buying, etc.

      It really bothers me when people say, Oh, you work so hard, like it’s a bad thing. I wonder, what’s wrong with working so you have nutritionally dense food you then preserve and then cook yourself? So that you have a nice home you built entirely yourself? So that your animals have the very best life before they feed you? Doing your own repairs so the saved money can be put to more useful effect?

      I read something in one of Wendell Berry’s books about this, the thought process that equates working hard with being lower status. What a sad commentary on society…

      • December 13, 2012 7:21 am

        Pam R.,

        What is so bad about working hard? It is the formal economy thing. In a factory, in general the goal is to get more value, in dollars, in your output, with less resources in and less effort and time to process the input into the output. This definition of industrial efficiency has been taken by the popular culture to be the human definition of “value”. Gack.

        When you aren’t measuring your output, directly, in dollars, there are fewer people that appreciate the value. Advertisers don’t educate their customers about it, schools don’t teach it, popular entertainment industries don’t dwell on it. I was dismayed that a local “service” organization defined their assistance to the community in terms of the money they raised. The “health” of the last church I attended was quoted in dollars in the collection plate.

        So perhaps “farm wife” could also be titled, “enlightened”, and “human”.

  21. December 12, 2012 2:01 pm

    We live on small acres so I wouldn’t call myself a typical farmer, but we do have chickens so I do know about scrubbing gross stuff!
    I stay at home and homeschool my daughter as well as run our home. I love my job even though some people do think I’m crazy.
    I have days where when it would be so much easier to buy sliced beetroot from the supermarket than spend all day pickling mine but the satisfaction of completing this task and tasting the results is well worth it.
    I am learning new homesteading skills everyday so one day we hope to have more acres and we can live without relying on the supermarkets etc.

    Sometimes you can hit your head against a brick wall when you try and talk to some people who don’t understand why we do what we do!

    I really enjoy reading your blog:)

  22. December 12, 2012 2:07 pm

    Well Anita, this Anita thinks you are a hell-of-a-woman. I admire you and love your blog.

  23. December 12, 2012 2:40 pm

    I thought you were a Stay-at-home-gardener.

    Julie doesn’t chop the firewood but she works her tookus off. (Literally! She keeps having to buy smaller jeans!) She keeps this thing running and does it all while looking great. But don’t take my word for it, she wrote about it here.

    We both pull together to get it all done but let’s be honest, I call myself the “Head Farm Steward” because she lets me.

  24. Andrea permalink
    December 12, 2012 2:42 pm

    Kudos to you. Your website is an inspiration to our family. We hope to be able to be close to fully self-sufficient within the next year or two. My husband and I enjoy planning ahead, love the HARD work (getting up before light and going to bed after dark in the summer), and cherish the moments together in the garden or in the kitchen or wherever else we can be found. We keep planting and preparing and it won’t be too long before our home and property can support us. We also feel that we’re instilling in our eleven year-old daughter the idea of hard work and healthful living. My own belief is that I get what I put into things, and I’ll sure enjoy my jar of beans or can of sauerkraut from the pantry much more than if I were to have driven to the grocery store to pick up dinner. In fact, I can typically remember what the weather was like when I picked my beans or started my crock of sauerkraut. Yes, it’s a lot more work, but I know what went into growing what I have on the table. Not many can say that!

  25. Karen H. permalink
    December 12, 2012 5:17 pm

    Well said and finally a picture of YOU! You are a busy person!

  26. Chris permalink
    December 12, 2012 5:20 pm

    Love finally being able to see your beautiful, happy face!! And it is a beautiful, happy face because you live a beautiful and happy life, created by you and your family!! You are so much more than “just a farmer” and if my memory serves me correctly…farmers can do just about anything!!
    You are such an inspiration to so many of us out here, you wouldn’t believe it and not just us folks that regulary~sp comment but this blog gets forwarded all over the US and points beyond! So you are also…among Many things…a highly regarded educator and advocate for this good Earth!!
    Keep on doing what you do everyday and inspiring so many of us, everyday, Farmer Nita!! :)

    • Greg O permalink
      December 14, 2012 10:08 am

      Well said, Chris. And Nita, it is far from only women that you inspire. I read every post! I learn from you with every one! Thank you!

  27. Katharina permalink
    December 12, 2012 5:32 pm

    This post and the replies make me feel less lonely :-) I’m nowhere near as self-sufficient as you are – YET! But I’m inspired and I do ‘get it’.

  28. Craig permalink
    December 12, 2012 5:46 pm

    You are doing what you love for the people you love. I would call you blessed.

  29. December 12, 2012 6:23 pm

    Street cred? pspht! that’s so unimportant.

    You have farm cred which is way better. Just so you know, you’re a hero of mine.

  30. December 12, 2012 6:24 pm

    oh- and leave the gender identifier off. Where I work, the girls who are electricians are called electricians. Women doctors are doctors.

    You are a farmer.

  31. Lisa permalink
    December 12, 2012 7:09 pm

    I’m actually fine with ‘farm wife’ I think the ‘wife’ thing has just been out of fashion for the last while. Surely a great partner that can take care of the farm and domestic things exquisitely should be worth a lot!! I believe our kind will come back into fashion and we will be like jewels, or gold… precious and rare… that’s what I’m going with anyway!

    It would be nice, once in a while, to get a little mainstream respect – but probably not gonna happen any time soon. Meanwhile, I like to remember a line I read a while back: ‘It’s none of my business what other people think of me’. I have to rely on that one when I have encounters like yours. :)

  32. December 12, 2012 7:53 pm

    Hard working “Human Bean”. I would so much rather do what you are doing than what I am doing. (I’m not complaining mind you, my circumstances didn’t get me to the country where I long to be) But I long for that type of life. In my mind, you work smarter and take better care of the planet than most people and THAT my dear is a most important job.
    Love the picture of you. I don’t think I have ever seen you. You look so healthy and happy!!!
    It’s all from the bottom of my heart!

  33. December 12, 2012 8:05 pm

    Going back and reading through the comments, leaves me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. It looks as though there are many like minded people here who are living and learning the best way of life. Healthy choices, teaching our future leaders how to live properly. I love it. I really want to get out ther eand do more gardening than I was planning on. I can’t have a farm, but I can surely grow some of my own food. I’ve got the chickens to help!

  34. December 12, 2012 8:24 pm

    I don’t want recognition. I find it gets in the way of doing my job. ;)

  35. December 12, 2012 8:29 pm

    Thank you for finally giving us a picture of YOU! I am regularly inspired by your writing, your life, your farm management . Now since you finally gave us a picture…and such a good one, when I read your posts, I can see you in my mind’s eye and it makes what you write so much more personal and inspiring! Believe me, you are a manager, and it makes me respect you all the more that you call yourself a farm WIFE. Looks like you have good relationships all around…with hubby, with the animals, with the land…and many more I am sure. I like being a farm wife. We haven’t been able to totally feed ourselves, but we have grown much of our food and each year try to grow more! Thank you so much for your inspiration! Your picture speaks JOY, more than any words could do. Again, thanks for the picture. Sarah Corson

  36. Bee permalink
    December 12, 2012 9:30 pm

    Shoot, Nita, I don’t care what they call me. What I care about is when TSHTF, I know I can grown my food, butcher a pig or a cow or a chicken, repair stuff, build stuff, save seeds, midwife critters, heat my house with what we grow on the property, handle a stallion to breed a mare, milk a cow, diagnose milk fever, make my own bread, butter, cottage cheese and cream cheese… Since I figure the odds are high that TSwillHTF in my lifetime, I want to be prepared. Just in case I get lucky — which I think is highly unlikely given the way things are going — I want to make sure my offspring and her offspring can do likewise. I’m too darned busy to worry about a label and I’ve spent most of my life fighting people who wanted to put this square peg in a round hole. I think we’re different from most folks because we’re actually leading the parade and they just haven’t figured it out yet!

  37. December 12, 2012 11:01 pm

    I run into the same thing a lot too. People sort of wrinkle up their noses and say “why would you want to live that way?” Of course I wouldn’t trade places for anything. It’s impossible to explain one’s preferences to someone who has drastically different preferences… But it’s funny how some people don’t realize it’s just that- just different strokes for different folks. Somehow buried in their question is the sentiment “how come you don’t want a life just like the one I choose?” I feel like I have to actually point it out to answer their question, “well, I’m just different from you, this is the lifestyle I prefer, and I have my reasons…” But it can be awkward to not sound patronizing when asserting this point.

  38. December 13, 2012 12:52 am

    There was that silly show a while ago, “farmer seeks a wife”, where they had a bunch of girls line up marry a farmer.

    As if any of those girls could immediately step into the shoes of any farmers wife. They’re grown, and it takes time, and that time is measured in years.

  39. Bev permalink
    December 13, 2012 1:26 am

    OMG! I am going to be 71 in a week. Your post made me laugh and made me feel a vindication for a lifetime of being a farmer. Over the years, it was, “Why woud you want to raise your own turkeys, chickens, beef, pigs and eggs. “How come you don’t take a break in the summertime instead of gardening?” “I can’t believe you are planning a garden and talking about in January!” The best question was, are you sure that milk is safe? Not all of us our so fortunate to have acreage. Even if you don’t farm there are so many ways to control your food source. Providing great food and health for your family. Our daughter was raised by this lifestyle and now lives in town. She has a pantry, freezer, etc. She also cans. She says that she has friends who buy ingredients daily for each day’s meals. She wonders what they would do if there was a disaster and couldn’t go to the store. Making things from scratch is so much cheaper, has no preservatives and tastes so great. All the daily chores like heating our home with wood and providing for our food give us a satisfaction that can’t be measured. Providing for oneself is the only way for us. Oh my, enough. You do say it so well. Thank you for the picture of you and your sidekicks. We have learned a lot from you. Thank you for sharing.

  40. A.A. permalink
    December 13, 2012 1:39 am

    This is Amazing, the comments too! You are the best Nita!

    Just remember to be proud of yourself and don’t take any shit from men!

    • Bee permalink
      December 13, 2012 6:30 am

      Hey, now, we can always use more fertilizer no matter where it comes from :-)

  41. December 13, 2012 6:14 am

    This is my first time to leave a comment. I have been reading your blog for a couple years now and have been very impressed and inspired. I grew up a city girl, but had a horse and have always yearned for the country life. I don’t know how many books I’ve read about farming and the like, but I’ve never had the courage to step out and do what I’ve dreamed about! But now, in my later years (better late then never), I’m trying to learn some of these things – baking bread, cooking from scratch, gardening, – I even made butter the other day! So whatever you call yourself, it doesn’t matter because you have inspired and encouraged many to follow their dreams and not worry about how that looks like to others!

    And I loved finally seeing a picture of you!

    Blessings

  42. December 13, 2012 7:24 am

    Love that you included a photo of yourself! Loved this post! (As I love them all, really.)

  43. Anna permalink
    December 13, 2012 7:56 am

    The minute my husband gets called a “farmer’s husband,” I’ll be ok with “farmer’s wife!” (Particularly since he’s kind of my “guy friday”–and doesn’t really have the gift of keeping track of the day to day running of things, although he’s great with infrastructure building!)

    I keep telling people that there are no farmer’s wives. There are people who farm, and those who don’t.

    I’m a farmer! (Also an English professor and a musician, depending on the day. I wish I were a Mom, but apparently that’s not going to be one of my jobs in this life!)

  44. mims permalink
    December 13, 2012 8:43 am

    you rock! how about web facilitor? as in ecoweb, web of life

  45. December 13, 2012 9:51 am

    Love this! Sharing. <3

  46. December 13, 2012 12:09 pm

    Your words have helped to inspire me ever since I happened upon your blog late one night a couple years ago while waiting for one of my precious milk cows to deliver her calf. I grew up on a farm in the 60′s, fought off my urge to farm for more than 30 years while I tried on different career paths that while moderately successful, never gave me that feeling of fulfillment in my work that I craved to find.
    When I turned 50 in 2010, I gave myself 2 gifts. One was deciding that I would live like I wanted to live –a self-sufficient, unapologetic, back to the land, farm life and the other was the first of what is now a small herd of dairy cows. With the full support of my grown children and wonderful husband, I gave my professional license back to the state and stepped off the cliff into farming.
    We are not rich in money or material things, but we have a full pantry, a full palette of producing farm animals and a quiet happy life that is better than anything I ever dreamed.
    When I look around me today I see the quilt blocks waiting to be pieced on the treadle sewing machine, bread and a roast are baking in the oven, laundry dries on the line, dogs doze in the sun, and yes, once again I am doing hourly checks on an overdue cow. I LOVE my life and I thank you for helping me get here. Blessings to you!

  47. December 13, 2012 1:01 pm

    Great post and as I would expect the comments are thoughtful, witty, wise – some excellent points made.

    For myself I would drop the gender identifier; then immediately I want to contradict that and say you had the descriptor right in the first place: matron of husbandry. For you do have charge of the domestic affairs of your family and charge of the cultivation and production of edible crops and animals for food. Clearly you are also an educator, raconteur, practical scientist, conservationist, economist, market gardener, home maker, wife, parent, driver into snowdrifts… the list goes on!

    There is such value in being a generalist – the ability to see things from multiple perspectives and understand how all the pieces fit together. The ability to manage wholes. Generalist, small-scale farmers who are used to stewarding localised resources over the long term will be in great demand if (when?) TSHTF.

    Those people who live life totally immersed in the current mythology are not likely to ‘get it’ until… well, who knows when? They choose – or are conditioned – or see – very differently.

    Great pic!

  48. December 13, 2012 2:25 pm

    how bout chicken-killin’ hog-sloppin’ slug-pickin’ pie-bakin’ nut-cuttin’ badass, bitch?

    • December 13, 2012 9:55 pm

      Farm wife might not imply upper crust, lady of the nobility. But it does imply a gentility and sociability that your suggestion lacks.

  49. Jill permalink
    December 13, 2012 3:09 pm

    You are the head “Cultivationist”
    To Cultivate =

    breed, crop, dress, farm, fertilize, garden, harvest, labor, manage, mature, plant, plow, prepare, propagate, raise, ripen, seed, tend, till, work
    And BEST of all
    TO Nuture -both land-animals and family!
    I would love to spend time learning from you.

  50. December 14, 2012 5:04 am

    What Paula said is so important!

    “Paula permalink
    December 12, 2012 6:24 pm

    oh- and leave the gender identifier off. Where I work, the girls who are electricians are called electricians. Women doctors are doctors.

    You are a farmer.”

    Farmer/farm manager/ecosystem engineer/braids of brawn — those titles/labels all fit. Labels are for the purpose of understanding, but so few really try to understand. There will always be people who don’t look deeper into life. Whatever.

    I for one am glad I work with college students and make it a point to ask them to challenge their assumptions every day. I especially enjoy giving them the opportunity to learn about agriculture at every scale, from home garden to mega farm, and think critically about the system.

  51. December 14, 2012 6:45 am

    Seems like “Mother Earth”, ought to be on that list somewhere. Nice post, thanks.

  52. Linda Jennings permalink
    December 14, 2012 7:25 am

    How about women of the land!

  53. Kristin permalink
    December 14, 2012 7:39 am

    I think maybe we need to grab that “farmwife” title by the short hairs and drag it back to the pinnacle of dignity where it belongs. Only someone who has no idea what the farming lifestyle is like would ever have the never to disparage the idea of what a farmwife (and her husband!) DO. That said, I’m still working to train myself not to say, “I’m JUST home with the kids, and we have chickens, and we’re getting a cow…”. OOOOH I hate it when I apologize for the thing I think is most important!

    Your blog makes me really happy, and it’s so encouraging to me as a young mother who’s finding her way back to the farming lifestyle my father very purposefully left! :) kristin

  54. December 14, 2012 10:08 am

    Farmwife, ranchwife…..it’s what I am and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Great picture of you to b.t.w.

  55. Mitty permalink
    December 14, 2012 11:36 am

    When I was a girl, farmwife was a synonym for capable woman. Sad that it no longer seems to be. I think “Matron of Husbandry” says it all!

  56. Clare permalink
    December 14, 2012 6:06 pm

    Several years ago some online friends and I formed a chat room called “Women Who Farm”. It lasted a few years, but didn’t really take off in part, I believe, because Women Who Farm do not have much time to allocate to visiting online. Anyway, this name was chosen because I felt, having grown up on a farm myself, that it lent some dignity to the position. People farm, and we can label it any which way we want, but what matters most is that you are doing it for a myriad of important reasons. I do hope/ believe that respect for all walks of life, especially those that revolve around sustainability will soon become the norm.

    Loved seeing your picture, Nita. Your smiling face says it all. Don’t make apologies for anything. You are an inspiration to so many of us. Thank you for taking the time to share here. Blessings to you!

  57. December 15, 2012 4:57 am

    Happy to see your smile.

    I believe Clare made the point.

  58. December 16, 2012 1:35 pm

    I believe in calling a spade a spade and to do otherwise demeans it. Nita, you’re a farmer and a farm wife and even though one name can never define anyone, it’s enough. I don’t like it when women call themselves “domestic engineer” when they’re a SAHM. Why commercialise such a wonderful occupation? We are all what we are and the tags are just for the sake of others, who cares if they misunderstand them. I would proudly call myself a farmer if I was one. Instead, I’m a proud homemaker and grandma and it’s amazing how many people I know who think I’m putting myself down when I describe myself as such. Sure, I’m a lot of other things too, but those two are what I focus on and love.

    Nita, your beautiful spirit matches your photo. What a wonderful thing to see you with your dogs. Thanks for sharing, it made me smile like a loon.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  59. Kay permalink
    December 17, 2012 1:57 am

    Love your picture! Merry Christmas and God’s Blessings!

  60. December 17, 2012 12:42 pm

    We’ve been on farm for a year and a half after leaving the burbs. My husband still works in the city, so the littles and I have plenty to do. I have been annoyed by the conversation stoppers that “farmwife” and “homeschooler” seem to be, but I know this work just begun will benefit all of us for generations. When times get tougher, I hope to have enough experience and be generous enough to welcome my ‘burb’ friends when they come asking for pointers. It’s difficult to change a life you have always lived, and we can’t expect outsiders to understand until they feel a need. I’m new to this, and I am thankful for all the help I can get. Thanks for your wonderful blog. Since I don’t have much experience under my belt, I have already recommended your blog to other people asking me how to get started.

  61. wondering permalink
    December 17, 2012 11:07 pm

    My mom was a nurse and a farmer’s wife. And truly the support role, she wasn’t personally a farmer. However, we had neighbour women who were farmers and I have sisters who have grown up to be farmers too. I garden and have chickens, but at best it is a hobby for me; no where near the effort to be had back on the family farm.

  62. Janet permalink
    December 18, 2012 7:04 pm

    I think matron of husbandry fits too. I call you awesome! Your knowledge and wisdom have helped me so much! My thought processes have and are changing from your blog. I have the deepest respect for you and what you do. I want to be like you when I grow up. :D It is so strange, people used to do what you do and it wasn’t a big deal, everyone did it! Nowdays, it is such a foreign concept. How sad. To be self sufficient and capable, to not have to rely on others to put food on your table and in your families mouth. Thank you Nita, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing yourself with us. I LOVE the pic of you! What a great pic and such a great smile.

  63. Karen from CT permalink
    December 23, 2012 7:28 pm

    I would be happy to call myself a farmer if that is what I was. To me that means someone who can do it I must have been a farmer in past life because I just love your posts about rotational grazing! If only I had someone to discuss it with. I live in the suburbs with a small garden and am trying to get back to doing some of the things I did when I was home with my children. I would love to be a full time homemaker again, I loved my life when I was home. Thanks for finally posting a picture of yourself so now I can see your face when I read your words. You look as happy as you sound when you share your life with us. Merry Christmas to you and your family, including those with fur. Karen from CT

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