Thursday, September 2, 2010
One recent rainy cool morning found Fred staring out the windows, pacing nervously. Our fields, still with unharvested crops (even though they are meagre) were getting another wet beating from Nature. When I suggested we take a drive to the city, he thought it a great idea.
He didn’t have to ask where I would like to be ‘dropped off’ while he went about several errands. Wordlessly he deposited me in front of Winner’s Department store. (TJMaxx in America.) My first stop is always the jewellery counter then to the handbag section. Absorbed in handbag heaven, a voice beside me asked, “Which one? Which purse do you think looks best on me?” Surprised someone was actually seeking my counsel, I looked and smiled. I had found a handbag soul-mate. Someone like me who believes that a handbag is not just an accessory; it is an extension of one’s wardrobe; a personal fashion statement.
My sisters lovingly call me ‘The Bag Lady.’
A conversation began between us, “What do you do?” she asked. I told her I am from out of town and my husband and I are farmers. She studied me for a moment then exclaimed, “REALLY?? You don’t look like a farmer’s wife.”
I burst into laughter and said, “Thanks.” Then added, “ . . . I think.”
My mind was racing as I thought, ‘here we go again.’ A farmer’s image continues to endure so many absurd connotations. Like the concept of a farmer’s tan - the image of a farmer’s wife to many is as brazenly delusional that brown cows make chocolate milk.
She was curious and continued, “What do you do on the farm?”
I was a bit taken aback - the job discription of a farmer's wife? Where to start?? All farmers know that there is always and ever something to do, it’s not a nine to five occupation. I told her that I help my husband when he's in the fields. I could tell this still did not satisfy her query. “Do you feed chickens and pigs and cows?”
I tried to suppress a smile and told her that we only grain farm. This business of farming suffers enormously from being misunderstood. She really wanted to know and I didn’t have time to explain. Fred was quick when he shopped at his manly farm equipment and parts department stores and my time was premium. I quickly told her that I help him in the field and there is much maintenance and repair work and also we have a huge farm yard with buildings and bins to care for. Again and with sincerity she mentioned that I don’t look like a farmer.
We parted laughing, agreeing we’d run into one another - another day, in the same place.
On our long trip home Fred and I chatted and chuckled about the encounter. It makes us rather sad that people don’t have a farming-clue. Not many consider paperwork, accounting, reading/studying, computer time and a long list of phone calls when they think of farming. I also believe that farmers undervalue their worth and how important they are to their friends and family, the industry, community and country. I recalled reading something by author Bill Bryson, ‘There are only three things that can kill a farmer: lightning, rolling over in a tractor, and old age.’