Are You A Rookie Farm Wife?
With harvest each year, the struggles and challenges of farm life are sometimes magnified. As I explained to a non-ag friend, it’s like a race. We’re always behind and trying to finish before “all is lost.” A couple of weeks ago, as I was lamenting yet another needed combine repair, my husband looked at me and said flatly, “Come on. This isn’t your rookie year. You should be used to this by now.” He was right, of course. But, the conversation got me to thinking about what advice I would give to a fellow farm wife who is in her rookie year. So, I polled a few friends and made a list. By no means, have I mastered handling everything on this list well. However, I do believe these are some of the top struggles. Whether you are in your first year of marriage or your first year of farming, I hope you will find something of value here.
Top 10 Survival Tips for the Rookie Farm Wife!
10. All plans are tentative. Agriculture livelihoods hinge on the weather and timing of every step in the process. The crops must be planted at just the right time. The crops must be harvested or there is no income. Cows will have babies on Mother’s Day Sunday as soon as you are ready to leave for church, and they will need help. Your friends may not understand why you can’t make plans three months in advance. Your family may not understand. Yes it is tough and frustrating sometimes, but the one person who must understand is YOU. Don’t do the guilt trip and please do not try to put a guilt trip on your husband. You are a team and he NEEDS you to understand.
9. Communicate. Don’t make assumptions. Dwelling on a situation and assuming that your husband is thinking a certain way without actually talking about it is very dangerous. Thinking back to the first few month of our marriage…I remember being upset that he would go ask his dad or brother for help before he would ask me, when I was right there. I had assumed he didn’t want my help and he had assumed that I wouldn’t want to help. We were both wrong. Almost every situation we have ever come across as a married couple feels better after we talk about it.
8. Pick Your Battles Wisely. Yes, I just said to communicate, but don’t be angry and feel the need to voice your opinion about every little thing. You are responsible for your own feelings. If your husband or other family members can’t do anything about the situation, deal with it. Don’t nit-pick or wine. Buck up and do your part to stay positive and productive.
7. You are responsible for your own safety. If you want to be involved in the day to day manual labor of the farm, then part of being productive is looking out for your safety (and the safety of those around you.). Wear appropriate clothing, shoes, gloves, etc… If you are working around equipment, be sure they can see where you are. Be aware of your surroundings. Having a man or woman down is not productive.
6. Protect Your Families Reputation. This is a BIG one. Being honest in your dealings with others is a given. However, protecting your reputation goes beyond that. Please stop and think. What does it do to your husband’s reputation if you complain to a “friend” about the fight you had last night? Your family disagreement will blow over. But, what if that friend’s sister works at the grain elevator, feed store or the bank. The sister hears from the friend how “terrible” you have it and just like that your husband’s ability to conduct business is diminished. When you run a family business, reputation is everything. Protect it.
5. Have a loyal friend. Yes, be careful who you talk to and what you say, but do have someone you can vent to. A good vent to a trusted friend, one who will not spread negative things about you all over the countryside, will help you get some perspective on the situation. However, that friend should not be your mother. You will forgive him, but she may not. By the same token, it should not be your mother-in-law, that’s not fair to anyone involved. Some of my fellow farm wives suggest that a loyal farm dog is a must have. ;-)
4. Risk, sacrifice, hard work…it will be worth it someday. Everything you are doing right now is about the future. You are building your farm… and your family. Have a long term plan and don’t lose sight of your goals. You will have ups and downs along the way. You will build assets, but won’t have much “fun” money. Don’t get discouraged when your friends seem to be carefree, while you have responsibilities and commitments. You will have the satisfaction of seeing the farm you have built together successful and someday that hard work will pay off.
3. Balance your family priorities. Leave the farm at least once a year, overnight. Yes, you are building for the future, but everyone needs a break once in a while. Feeling overwhelmed and resentful is not healthy or productive. So, talk about your priorities as a couple. There are certain events that the farm will just have to be put on hold for. Don’t miss the really important stuff in life. What qualifies as the “important stuff”? You will have to decide for yourself on that, but I would say that it could be summed up like this… be sure the important people in your life know how important they are to you.
2. Enjoy your time together. It is a beautiful life. Enjoy it along the way! Yes, all of the hard work is to build your future, but don’t forget to enjoy today, right where you are. If your husband asks you to ride along when he goes to check cows, or after parts, or where ever, please just go! Spend as much time together as you can. Laugh together as often as possible. Enjoy the moments. And, never stop noticing the beauty in all that God has created all around you. Let it sink in for a moment that God has called you and your husband to be His caretakers. In marriage, God’s design is for the two of you to be a strong team for His purpose.
1. Pray. There are so many things in life and farming that are out of your control. When you come to the Father in prayer, you are handing those things in your life that seem out of control to Him. He is always in control. Trust Him. Trust Him when it comes to farming. Trust Him when it comes to the relationship you have with your husband. In my opinion, the single most important thing you can do as a wife is to pray for your husband. Pray for every aspect of his life. I promise you that if you spend time with God praying for your husband, you will see God at work in your marriage…mostly because God will change you. Trust Him.
Just a few verses of encouragement!
“House and riches are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is from the Lord.” Proverbs 19:14 “He who finds a wife, finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 18:22 “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain.” Proverbs 31:10–11
Malia and her husband in the early years!
Malia has been married to her high school sweetheart for over 20 years. They live, work and farm in St. Clair County, Missouri where they grow soybeans, corn and wheat and raise beef cattle. Like most farm wives, Malia also has an “in-town” job, but her favorite job titles are Lynn’s Wife, Savannah’s Mom and Aunt Malia.