Recently Missouri Farmer Today came for a visit to our farm. They were looking for a woman who is active on the farm. They were given my name as someone who may be willing to speak with them. To say the least I was surprised. Very surprised! You see, I don’t label myself a Farmer or even a FarmHer. I see myself as a farm gal who does what needs to be done, when it needs doing and in turn, try and share what it is we do with readers of this blog.
When the story came out last Friday I was again surprised, but pleased with the article and the title, “Joy of Sharing“. I never know how I come across to others and hoped that my love of the farm and my passion for sharing our farm story came through. So, thank you Benjamin Herrold, for your visit and your story not only about our farm, but also about women farmers and how we are an important and growing trend in the world of agriculture.
As the article mentioned, I am one of four daughters. FOUR GIRLS born and raised on a hog, row crop, and hay farm in north central Missouri. Mom was a city girl who would come to the country to visit her grandparents’ farm and would attend church where my dad and his family were also members.
After getting married, it was off to Vietnam for dad and a new home for mom. A few years later dad was safe and sound farming at home and mom was busy taking care of us girls. She used to sew for us and made all of our pretty little dresses. (Yes, we wore dresses)
From the beginning they raised hogs. At first the sows (mama pigs) had all of their babies in small individual huts and pens outside. Over the years buildings were built and the sows moved indoors to have their babies. I still remember how big I thought the mama sows looked when I was little and that we would sit in the wagon and hold the runts as they were being moved to the nursery. On shipping day we would go early in the morning to the finishing floor to watch the “fat” hogs being sorted out and loaded on to the truck. As I got older, I helped with the sorting and loading.
My sisters and I were the hay crew in the summer. The barn washers in the winter and sometimes even the field crew in the fall. Don’t get me wrong, we still were able to participate in 4-H, FFA, school organizations, and sports, but when there was work to be done, you did the work first. Being involved in 4-H we all spent time showing livestock. We showed pigs, of course, but we also had our own heard of Hampshire sheep.
Then in high school, two of us also decided to show cattle. Showing livestock was a passion of mine. Did not matter what species, I wanted to show, care for and display my livestock at the county, area and state fairs.
In college I majored in Ag Education thinking I would one day be a teacher and FFA adviser. Lets just say as much as I loved being in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at Mizzou, I did not excel in my ag classes. This was hard for me. I really thought I knew what I was doing and what my future was. Then I met a boy and put my future in the hands of God and have not looked back since. Seth is a year older than me and when he graduated from college, he already had a trainee position with a feedlot in Texas. Have you ever tried to plan a wedding while living almost 600 miles away from your Fiance? We did it and at times I think it was easier; all he had to do was show up at the right time on the right day.
After living in Texas for a year and Kansas for six, we have now been back in Missouri for almost six years. We knew that the farm was the place we would one day be and because again we left the “plan” up to someone else, it happened. Seth and I had only been dating a few months when I brought him home to meet the parents and I showed him one of the farms. I told him then I would someday live here and lo and behold here we are.
I am sure raising four girls was not easy. I am even more positive that raising four girls on a hog farm when the market dropped in the 80’s and again in the 90’s was not easy. We made it work though and no one ever went without. We were taught to work hard, and given that we were girls, were taught that we COULD do the work. Oh sure, there were jobs we did not like doing and some of us could get out of those jobs (Jody), but at the end of the day I think we will all say that growing up on the farm made us confident, hardworking, dependable and trustworthy individuals.
Now I have two young girls who I am raising on the farm. They are both unique and different in their own ways. One is tall and lanky and smart as a whip. The other is a ball of fire and already as strong as an ox. Together they are best friends and each other’s favorite playmate. Together they show me every day that what I do is more important than what I say. If I say, “time to do chores,” but I never go out and help, that shows them that as a mom I don’t do that type of work. If I say, “it is time for chores everyone,” and go out and help and spend time with them, that shows that as a mom I enjoy being with them and that we all have to do our share on the farm.
As our farming story continues, I hope you have realized that the joy I have in sharing comes from a life time of being on the farm.
Blessings to you and farm women everywhere,
Laurie – Country Link