Are you a capable woman who wants to try her hand at farm life? Do you picture yourself watching the sun rise over fields of golden wheat, a cup of coffee in your hand and a smile of contentment on your face? Or maybe you think of gathering organic vegetables to toss together a salad for your lunches and dinners?
With an increased interest in getting back to the land, young people, and many women, are showing a renewed interest in farming. The last few years have shown a steady rise in public interest in organic farm products, as well as sustainable living. But before you begin to spin castles in the air of what your new life will be like, read on for 5 aspects of farm life that women working on farms want you to know:
- A farmer’s day starts first and ends last.
Farmers start the day early. Sometimes to beat the heat and take care of planting and pruning before the day turns into a bake-fest. Other times, it is just a matter of feeding livestock and getting through all the chores that need to be done in a single day. Your evenings will be spent catching up on all non-farm related things you need to do, like caring for your family, or your house, etc.
PinkTractor.com, a site for women working in agriculture, offers the following advice: “When juggling a farm, a relationship and a family, don’t strive for perfection. Prioritize what is most important.”
- The dirt never comes out from under your fingernails.
Get really comfortable with a shade of brown underneath your fingernails. And the look of a gentle grass stain on the palms of your hands. In fact, if you are particularly attached to any piece of clothing, do not wear it out of your house. You would be safer framing and immortalizing that favorite shirt, because once you leave the house with it on, its days are numbered. Expect to find yourself wearing clothes that you won’t mind throwing away. Also, you will become an expert at juggling loads of laundry during your lunch break.
- You will get double-takes.
Tell anyone you are a farmer and that you work on a farm, and it is likely you will get a double-take. Do not take this personally. And don’t feel like you need to defend yourself or spend 15 minutes explaining how women can be farmers, too. You have better things to do with your time. You do work on a farm, after all.
- Some years you won’t make a dime.
Do any amount of reading on a farmer’s life, and this is one that will come up time and again. Despite that fact, it’s often glossed over by newbie farmers with stars in their eyes and fantastical hopes. It’s okay to have hopes and grand visions of what you wish to accomplish. But the life of a farmer is about dealing with the unexpected. Bonus points if you can handle a bad crop with grace and good humor. Expenses on a farm run high. Farm machinery, feed, seed, livestock, and more are items that can quickly level your bank account. Have a back-up plan for the times when your farm is in the red. Your Plan B or Plan C will save your bacon. Guaranteed.
- Despite all that, it will feel worth it.
Yes, it’s a hard life. You won’t make tons of money. But despite these two factors, farmers show higher job satisfaction rates than those working a desk job. It could be all that time outdoors. It could be the joy of nurturing and growing living things. Or the fact that when your body is moving, your brain is producing feel-good chemicals. Whatever the reason, it’s enough for passionate farmers to ignore the hardship in exchange for the farmers’ life they have chosen.