Who Are the Women in Ag?
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Confessions of a Farm Wife
We are excited to introduce a new guest blogger, Emily Webel, on Bayer Connect this year. Emily is a
wife, mother and blogger from Farmington, Illinois. She is an advocate for agriculture and actively involved in Illinois Farm Families, an organization that educates others on Illinois farming. Emily addresses questions and issues that agriculturists, farm wives and moms face in their everyday lives. While Emily is not a tractor-driving, calf-pulling farm wife, she watches her husband Joe care lovingly for his 150 Simmental-Angus cattle herd.
International Women’s Day, a day that has been observed since the early 1900s to inspire women, took place Saturday, March 8. In light of recognizing women’s achievements, we asked Emily to give her perspective on being a woman in agriculture.
I began my journey as a farm wife six years ago.
I thought I didn’t fit in, and would never fit in-ever.
I assumed there were two categories within the definition of “farm wife:” those who drove tractors and chored and pulled calves, only to come home to cook a hot meal and can their vegetables from their gardens, and those who didn’t.
I knew which one I fit into, because I didn’t even know what “pulling calves” meant when my husband and I first started farming, gaining 150 head of cattle and field after field of corn and soybeans.
However, as I have come into my own as a farm wife, I have looked around, talked to other women who I thought I could easily pigeon-hole into my two tiered definition of farm wife, and realized I was wrong.
Oh, so wrong.
The women I have encountered in agriculture are not so easily categorized, because like all women, women in agriculture are just as complicated.
Yes, I just admitted I am complicated.
But, like me, agriculture is complicated in a good way.
So who are the women in agriculture? In my plight to figure out where I fit in, I have found that, while there are the calf pulling, tractor driving, grain hauling women who come home and prep the meal, there are also the women who are leaders in their professional field. Both sets of these women, those who work on and off the farm, still find the time to taxi kids all over the countryside and back to town multiple times, thanks to our active kids and rural route addresses. Women in agriculture are those who sit on the school board, the Farm Bureau board and the church board. They are teachers, nurses, accountants and bankers. They are women who love to go to cattle shows and land sales, and those who would rather hit the sale racks at Nordstrom.
While we are all different and multi faceted, not one of us can simply check the box of “farmer” or “non-farmer.” When your life and its bottom line depends upon the weather patterns, when you plan the timing of a birthday party in between morning and afternoon chores, and when you feel the sting after you hear of a farm accident, knowing it could have been us or your family, you become a part of the group whether you farm in muck boots or fashion boots. We’re all in this big, complex, emotionally frustrating, unpredictable field together.
That’s what binds us.
That’s what makes being a woman in agriculture so exciting. It’s not as intimidating as I first imagined. I thought I couldn’t keep up with the other farm wives with more active roles in the farm, but that’s not true. They are the ones I ask questions, lament about our date nights being cancelled due to good weather, and wonder what the future holds if we continue to have to fight for our way of life, thanks to bad press and even worse markets.
Again, this is what binds us. We’re a part of a big team. We can all check the “farmer” box.
Women in agriculture are a force to be reckoned with. We are smart, well-educated, and well-spoken. We are changing the face of agriculture to one that may wear a dab of mascara once in a while, and will advocate for our way of life through all the roles we have to play as farmers.
I started my plight as a farm wife as an outsider, never thinking I would consider myself a woman in agriculture.
Now, I’m not just another woman out there (still not driving a tractor), I am a voice of the American Farmer, and it is a proud one.
More information on Emily Webel:
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org