Seeking: Friend for Farm Wife
ISO: friend for farmwife, someone who "gets" the rural/farming lifestyle, willingly connects via multiple social avenues, willing to visit over the hum of a tractor or combine, and is easy to visit with no matter how long it's been since the last visit!
Over New Years I got to spend time with a great friend and her family. I'm always encouraged and amazed that no matter how far apart our visits are, we can pick up right where we left off during our last visit. At one point in our conversation, the subject turned to friendship and the difficulty each of us has experienced 1) connecting with and finding women that could relate to our agricultural lifestyle and 2) finding time to be able to actually meet up with friends. Now we each have wonderful friends, and I don't want to discredit the value that they bring to our lives, but many of them don't live the same lifestyle and so it's harder for them to relate to this huge all-encompassing part of our lives.
When I first married my husband and jumped in to our first harvest season, I was very excited, inspired and hopeful. But as the years have gone by, I realized that there are many unique challenges that come with this lifestyle. One of them is finding the time to connect with friends, especially other women who "get" our lifestyle.
As women we are very social creatures and we greatly benefit from social interaction with other women. I notice after spending time with a friend, I feel happier, understood, and less stressed. As women we understand each others ups and downs, the way we think, the typical wife and mother challenges, and can support each other through life's challenges.
The unique challenges I find connecting with friends as a farmwife are these:
1) Rural Living.
Physically we live much farther out than most, and the typical strategy to beat loneliness of getting together with friends, engaging in community activities etc. aren't as easy to do.
2) Frequently cancelled get-togethers due to the flexible, yet demanding nature of farming.
Daddy O says no matter what day on the calendar he plans something, something else will always come up. Cows will get out, the crops will finally be ready to harvest, that all important part will finally come in, etc. This last year I rescheduled with a friend 3 times!! I finally gave up, because I was so embarrassed that I couldn't catch a free day to meet up with her and didn't want to continue wasting her time.
3) The distance between friends, makes it challenging to have a simple coffee or dinner together!
Many friends live in town (for me this is 25 miles away), so I always want to pair going to town with multiple responsibilities. Most of the time I don't know ahead of time when I'm headed to town, which makes planning ahead to meet up with a friend more difficult.
4) The "not available" times of year.
The times of seeding, haying and harvest keep us so busy that getting to church is hard, let alone a planned meet up with friends. Haying, specifically, takes us even farther from town. Unless our paths happen to cross on a parts run, getting together socially is via text messages, a phone conversation while driving equipment, or Facebook.
So, what do you do? Do you give up and just figure get-togethers with girlfriends are just not going to happen? No, no!!
Here are some strategies that I use! I hope they will help you too!
1) Realize that the "not available" time of year passes quickly.
There is an end to harvest, although at times it seems to last forever. Things will slow down. When they do, take every chance you get to meet up with your girl friends!!
Put aside pride or fear of "needing too much" and communicate your need for a little time away. Understand that your husband doesn't necessarily have the same friendship needs as you do. Also, friends don't know that you need support, unless you share!
3) Cherish those impromptu meet ups!
This falls into the "living in the moment" category! It is easy to think, "I wish I had had more time to visit" or "I missed out again, and couldn't make that get-together". Instead I hope you'll join me in finding the positive and being grateful! "I'm grateful I got to see (friend's name here), even for a minute, while picking up parts!"
4) Think outside the box!
For me, the loneliness hits during the busiest part of the year, where setting aside time for myself to go invest in friendships is the most challenging. So make sure that you're willing to think outside the box and receive encouragement from friends in different ways. Sometimes a Thirty-one Facebook party can be the perfect catalyst for a bit of girl time, even if it's virtual versus in person.
5) If it's not out there already, create it!
I finally did just that and it has been so much fun!! On Saturday morning I created a "Rural Sister's Coffee Chat" Facebook event that usually lasts for a couple hours. In this chat, we can visit, share pictures of our animals or kiddos, or talk about whatever strikes us as being interesting and valuable at the time. It really has been so much fun to visit with women from all across the country and feel connected just simply because they "get it". You can find these events here. (During the seeding to harvest months we take a break, but will begin again, once things slow down a bit!) Facebook groups have been another fun way to connect with other women in agriculture. I'm in several different women's groups specific to farming, ranching and agricultural. In these groups, the details of agriculture are discussed and I enjoy them thoroughly. What I found missing was having a close-knit group of rural women who were there to support and encourage each other when things are going well or poorly. So I created a Facebook group, Wholehearted Rural Sisters' Community just for this! It has been wonderfully encouraging. They "get" the rural agricultural lifestyle. They are "there" when getting together in person is not an option; in the wee hours of the morning checking for new babies and when the stressful aspects of our lifestyle begin to overflow. It is a wonderfully supportive community. As a community we chose to keep the group secret for extra privacy for our members, so that makes it a bit challenging to find. If you, feel this community would be a good fit for you, you can email me, privately message me on Facebook, or you can follow this link here!
I wish you friends and a community of rural sisters to support and encourage you!
Much love to you and yours, Elizabeth