5 Reasons To Love a Farmer

It’s Valentine’s Day so while it is not the only day to express my love for my Farmer, it’s a good day to remind others why it’s great to have a Farmer for a valentine. I’ll admit, being married to a farmer is never easy, but there are so many great parts of being a farm wife, living the farm life and waking up with a farmer each morning.

1. They are care takers: Before we had kids, my husband was already taking care of babies, animals and living things all around our farm. I appreciated his willingness to stay up all night with a newborn calf or slosh through mud to help a mother cow that was having trouble giving birth. He showed me early and often he knew how to care for others.

2. They drive big tractors: While the appeal of a tractor has diminished slightly over the years, the idea that my husband gets to command big trucks, huge tractors and even bigger combines is always something worth bragging about. The best part is they all come with buddy seats so there is always room for me to hitch a ride (and maybe even enjoy a date night in the field).

3. They don’t have an 8-5 gig: I always say my husband is flexible but not always available. He doesn’t report to an office and doesn’t punch a time clock which means he can get away from the farm when he needs or wants. It’s not always that simple but if there is something I want him to join me for or need him to attend to, there’s no asking the boss for vacation time.

4. They can fix anything: My husband may not be as skilled in the “fixin” department as others but he usually has the tool, trick or duct tape to jimmy rig about anything you need. The one thing he can’t do – patch the holes in his jeans or replace the buttons on his shirts. I’m guessing sewing is one skill he won’t be picking up anytime soon.

5. They have big hearts: The last but certainly not least reason I love being married to a farmer is their big hearts, kind souls and Midwest manners that make them gentleman and all around great guys. Most of my husband’s farmer friends are great husbands and fathers as well. Farmers grew up learning the value of hard work and aren’t afraid to pitch in when it’s needed. Farmers are some of the best people you’ll get a chance to meet – as long as you don’t mind a little mud on their shoes.

Want to reach more about life with a farmer hubs, check out some of these great blogs by fellow farm wives:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenny-dewey-rohrich/15-real-reasons-to-date-a_b_4688680.html

https://wfbf.com/blogs/nothing-like-a-farmers-love/

https://www.gracegardenandhomestead.com/how-to-love-a-farmer/

Our Crazy Hectic Life

I always enjoy writing – not as much the forced, daily writing that comes with a journalism gig I once held – but the spontaneous, personal blogging that allows me to share our farm life and stories of raising crops and cattle in the heart of America.

Ironically, it seems that the same life I want to share is what prevents me from finding the time to write. But I love our life and love reading about other mom’s trials, tribulations and craziness and want to share our crazy with all of you.

First, let me explain our crazy . . . My husband is the fourth generation of his family to farm and raise cattle on our farm in Central Kansas. Right now we are in the middle of calving season, which means we will welcome a couple hundred new baby calves to our farm in the next three months. It’s a great season – who doesn’t love baby calves – but our mommas cows require a watchful eye and helping hand when things aren’t going right or the weather is not ideal for a fresh, wet baby calf to hit the ground. For almost two months, my husband and his father will take turns checking on the animal. That means he’s up every two to four hours morning, noon and night (not unlike a mother of a newborn). The cows take priority because their well being and livelihood is his top priority.

During other times of the year, planting, harvest and animal care keep my husband at the farm 60 – 80 hours a week. His job has never been 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and it sure doesn’t allow for weekends and holidays off. There are days I just want him home, but it’s not that easy. He’s the boss and the one responsible for it all at the end of the day so when work needs done, he’s the one to do it. This farm is our future and its our hope that this is here for our boys to return home to one day.

Then there’s my job. I have a great position as a District Director for our U.S. Congressman. I love my job and the responsibilities in my position, but it also is not a typical office job. I oversee staff and offices in a district that covers 63 counties and more than 47,000 square miles. There are days I can sit at my kitchen table while the boys play and nap and get my work done. But there are other days I’m on the road and unable to get home for supper or get my oldest to pre-school. I take the downtime and days at home when I can but my schedule differs widely every week and some meetings and travel requirements are simply out of my control.

And finally, there are our two adorable boys, Evan, age 4, and Owen, age 2. Evan is in pre-school and attends school four mornings a week. He just started his first sports activity – basketball – which practices Saturday morning. Owen attends daycare and for now, is just along for the ride. The boys rarely sit still but I know their busy days are still ahead of them. I look forward to baseball games and band practice but I get anxious thinking about the layer those will add to our already hectic family schedule.

Both of my boys have only known an unpredictable and somewhat chaotic schedule. I tell people who question our jobs and schedules that we are raising flexible and adaptable little boys who understand that you just gotta take each day as it comes and go with the flow! So far, they don’t seem to mind. We very much rely on a tribe of individuals, including siblings, parents, babysitters and friends to keep us going and our boys well cared for, and for those individuals I am forever grateful.

I would describe an average day, but I honestly can’t think of one. Each day is different and that’s what makes our family and lifestyle so unique. We don’t enjoy supper together at our kitchen table as much as I would like, but we find other ways to spend time together as a family – and sometimes that’s in the cab of a tractor or the side of the road in lawn chairs eating sandwiches for lunch.

I used to be jealous of those wives who had a husband home at 5:30 p.m. every evening and all weekend long. And I’m not going to lie, there are days I still wish that was our life. But I’ve come to embrace our chaos, enjoy the time I have with my boys and embrace the flexibility that is allowed in both my and my husband’s jobs. We don’t often have the same hours of open time but when we do, we sure try to make the most of it.

I know I’m not the only farm wife struggling to keep a sense of normalcy in our kids’ lives but there is something special and wonderful about growing up and raising kids on the farm. Add to that the opportunity for my boys to see what hard work, dedication to a job and commitment to a lifestyle and future means and required is priceless.

So for all you mommas with a mountain of laundry, a to-do list a mile long, a schedule that is never the same I see you, a get you and I say keep on, keepin on! To catch more of our crazy life, follow along on Instagram and Twitter @SawyerFarm and subscribe to this blog post at www.newtothefarm.com.

 

 

The Loneliness of Farm Life

I am on a group messenger feed with about a dozen other mothers that live in the nearby town. A few – like me – work during the day, but most are stay-at-home moms. The messages are usually invites to join someone at the park or reminders of story time or another kid-friendly activity taking place that day.

I often don’t respond. It’s not that I don’t want to join them, but that I simply can’t. I’m either at work, meaning I’m mile away at a meeting, or I’m home with the boys and therefore a 20-minute drive into town on top of getting the boys ready and piled into the car – so make that 45 minutes out given the sloth-like pace my 4-year-old choses to move in these situations.

April 2017 boys swinging
We put up a swing set for the boys last summer. With the nearest park about 15 miles away, it gets a lot of use on the evenings and weekends we are home without dad.

But the messages do more than send a small ping of mommy-guilt through me, they remind me of a group of girls I don’t get to see all that often because I married a farmer and therefore live a life much different than theirs.

There is a lot about farm life that differs from city dwelling – the obvious aspects of space, noise, fresh air and proximity to, well, everything. But the acres of open spaces and miles of farmland can sometimes be overwhelming and well, lonely.

My husband works a lot. And by a lot I mean pretty much everyday of the week – well beyond the normal 8-5. The spring is our busiest time of year – planting corn and soybeans, vaccinating and moving cows and calves to grass and watching over a maturing wheat crop. Family dinners are few and far between and many nights my husband isn’t home before 10 p.m. The boys don’t have neighbors to run with or a park down the road to escape to, so it’s just the three of us and our space, and sometimes that feels like a pretty small place.

I love my kids and cherish the time I spend with them, but talking about Lightening McQueen with my pre-schooler and playing peek-a-boo with my toddler isn’t exactly adult conversation. And on the days I work from home, I can go 12 hours without adult interaction.

The weekdays are hard but weekends are by far the worst. On Saturdays, when other families are spending time at the zoo or enjoying a lazy morning over pancakes and eggs, my farmer is out the door and I’m left to entertain two little boys for the day. In these times it’s tempting to turn to social media to see what’s going on in the outside world – because well, let’s face it, if your world is anything like mine it’s filled with dirty laundry, stinky diapers and messy kitchen floors. But instead of finding company, I find myself growing envious of the wives who get the joy of husbands each and every weekend and fellow moms who have a partner in crime to fight the dishes and weekend trips to the zoo.

And it’s not just the morning and evenings that cause me to miss my girlfriends. Since neither my husband nor I work in town, I have seen our friendships and connections to people and place unravel as time separates us. It’s not a conscious uncoupling (thanks Gwyneth) but a slow falling apart from different schedules and lifestyles that don’t allow myself or my husband to be part of evening get togethers or random “work” lunches. On the weekends when I am ready to hit the park or take a quick trip out of town, many of my city friends are enjoying family outings and not looking for a third wheel with two little boys.

The loneliness that comes with life on the farm can be overwhelming. As we enter planting season I know the stress that comes with being the only parent most days of the week and trying to juggle work, meals, laundry, yard work and whatever the boys need will be trying. My boys and I won’t see much of my farmer and outside of my work meetings and daycare drop off and pick up stops, I won’t see many friends or familiar faces. Even if an invitation for a get together is extended, I can’t ask my husband to hop off the tractor so I can sip wine with friends.

I knew all of this marrying my farmer and I know I am not along in feeling lonely and frustrated during these trying times. I try, everyday, to see the positive and blessings in this lifestyle – whether that’s a kiss and goodnight hug from my sons or the blissful quietness after everyone has fallen asleep. Farming isn’t a job or a hobby, it’s a lifestyle that encompasses not just the farmer but his family and loved ones. And while some days I struggle to accept this lifestyle and the restraints it places on my time and flexibility, I see the passion in my farmer and the vast and wonderful adventures that await my sons as they grow. It has afforded me many opportunities and made me appreciate those that chose to do the hard, dirty and thankless work.

April 2017 in Pasture
My farmer hubby and I after a recent Facebook Live show about cows. Sadly, the 15 minutes on Facebook was about all the time we spent together that day.

So for all of you fellow farm wives or mothers with super busy hubbies, I’m with you and understand your frustration and tears. It’s lonely and it’s hard but it’s rewarding and wonderful. And some day the kids will be grown and we’ll be on the other side of it all, secretly missing these days.

Sometimes I Forget

It was 8 p.m. last night and I was rocking my newborn back to sleep having reminding my older son, once again, to stay in bed. I had spent close to an hour getting the baby ready for bed and asleep and it was all undone when the toddler made his appearance, causing me to have to get up and walk him back to his room and tuck him back into bed. It was at that moment that I wanted life to be like it was, where bedtimes were non-events and by 7:30 p.m. the evenings were mine and free of children, dirty diapers and nursing. I wanted my husband home so he could help me keep it all together and keep our older son in bed and I wanted company as I rocked and rocked and rocked. But he wasn’t home and I wasn’t happy.

My husband wasn’t home because he was returning from a trip to south-central Kansas where he unloaded 80 cows to spend the winter on new pasture. He was late getting on the road and got caught in his tractor-trailer in icy, hazardous driving conditions. He was supposed to be back to the farm around 6:30 p.m. He walked in the door two hours later.

I didn’t grow up on a farm. I was raised in town by parents with eight-to-five jobs that allowed them to be home on evenings and away from work on the weekends. That’s what I envisioned for myself but it’s not what I married into. Farming doesn’t have closing times and doesn’t know the difference between Tuesday and Saturday. During the winter months the hours are even more unpredictable as my husband and his father help more than 300 mother cows deliver and care for new calves. And the animals, inevitably, pick the coldest nights and wettest weekends to deliver their off spring. It’s out of my husband’s control but all his responsibility.

I always talk and write about understanding and appreciating the hard work and long hours my husband puts into his job. I’m proud of the work he does and the hours upon hours he commits to the farm, but sometimes I forget that his obligations to his job and his animals must supersede his time at home. Last night, I forgot . . . I just wanted him home.

My husband is a successful business owner who is living his dream to carry on the family farm. He grew up watching a father and grandfather who both worked tirelessly to enable their sons to return to the farm and carry on the family business. Now my husband is working toward that same goal. He’s putting food on our table and provide healthy and nutritional products for people near and far. His work is invaluable and his passion undeniable.

But his dream often runs counter to my vision of a happy family of four enjoying a meal together or visiting the zoo on a Saturday morning. And when I forget why my husband isn’t home, I get angry and frustrated and become a person I’m not proud of. Part of marrying into farming is accepting the unknown, unpredictable and uncontrollable hours that come with raising crops and caring for animals.

Understanding all of this is easier said than done and even more so when a newborn is crying, yet again, needing to be nursed and rocked back to sleep while your toddler refuses to stay in bed and go to sleep.

I know my husband wants to be home as much as I want him home. I’m not the only farm wife, or mother who must find a way to juggle it all. As I learn to navigate life with two little boys, a full-time job, graduate school classes and other community obligations, I must remember that when my husband isn’t home, it’s because he is away making all of that possible. I tip my hat to all wives and mothers who must go it alone and while I know that my husband and farmers across the country want nothing more than to spend time with their families, work calls and they must answer. I usually understand, but sometimes, I forget.

Race Wrap Up: Working Moms On The Run

Long before I was a farmer’s wife, took my first selfie or logged onto Facebook, I was running. I am not a “natural” runner. It’s not in my family and I don’t look the part.

In seventh grade I decided I wanted to run track. My parents were speechless and I was simply hoping to stay in shape for swim season. But the “trial run” quickly became a habit I still cling to.

I ran through middle school, high school and into college. I am no longer part of a team but most mornings you can find me on the treadmill or dirt road, listening to my Sirius XM radio and logging the miles. It takes an early bedtime and rising before the sun but it keeps me sane and at a healthy weight. 

Racing has always been a part of my running habit. I’m not a marathoner – never have been and probably never will be. But I will glady hop into any 5K or 10K. Having a full-time job, a 2-year-old and a super busy hubby limits my ability to both train and compete but I manage to squeeze in a race every now and then.

The recent rains kept my farmer hubby from planting corn Saturday so I made a very last minute decision, less than two hours prior to the start of the race,  to complete in a women-only 5K just down the road about 20 minutes. I’ve ran in this race at least six times – maybe more – and I love it.

This is was my first time competing in this race post-baby and racing as a working mom has given me a whole new perspective on the women running along side me. Never before had I really paid attention to the mob of dads with kids strapped to their fronts or skipping down the sidewalk and the running strollers occupying the back of the starting pack.

I realized that the tiny, sleeping baby in the dad’s arms means there is a mom running only months after giving birth. And the crowds of children – mine among them – symbolize these women’s ability to juggle family, work and/or volunteering and running.

Those of us participating represented a wide range of ages, shapes and sizes. Few of us are probably the shape and size we want – or at one time – use to be. But we’re out there, giving it our all, juggling multiple demands – even while on the course – and knowing that as soon as we cross the finish line we’re back to being mom, wife and partner. But for the time we’re racing, we’re super woman, running toward our goal and working our butts off to cross that finish line.

More and more women – and moms – are discovering running and for each lady who makes the decisions to squeeze one more thing into their day, I tip my sneaker. We’re may not be Olympians – or even all that fast – but we’re giving it our all and loving every minute of it!

Parenting

Me and the little guy on his first plane ride to Florida.
Me and the little guy on his first plane ride to Florida.

My last blog entry was all about our wonderful mother cows and sometimes I look at them with empathy and sympathy – for any of your breastfeeding mothers out there you would cringe while watching a calf nurse. But I also see that their one and only goal is to keep their calves fed, safe and warm. Sometimes I envy the simplicity.

I am not only a mother but a full-time professional who balances work, motherhood, domestic duties and a few non-profit obligations on top of it all. Combine that with the fact my husband works 80-plus hours most weeks and I’m basically a single parent for a few months of the year.

This is one of those months. Outside of the normal work hours, my husband and his father split the night hours, checking the mother cows and calves every three hours. Sometimes that check takes 10 minutes and sometimes it leads to an all-nighter of babysitting expectant mothers and watching over newborn calves. Regardless of the number of hours my husband spends in bed each night, he gets up every morning to do it all over again.

I know I am not the only mother with a spouse who can’t make it home for dinner every evening or who is absent from the weekend activities and errands more often than not. I am fortunate in that I can call and visit my husband most days because while he isn’t at home, he’s right down the road. Some spouses are halfway across the world defending our country and our way of life – and to those individuals I tip my hat and offer a sincere thank you.

Outside of the stress of just trying to get it all done each day, going a day, evening or weekend without a spouse means there are no time outs or “me” time. You have no “other half” to watch the kids while you run to the grocery store or make the quick trip to the mall. There is no one to hand the kid off to for bath time or to read the same book for the 1,000th time. It’s you and them and only you and them.

But for all of the times I have grumbled about my situation because my husband is spending yet another Saturday at work, I have also learned to appreciate the irreplaceable one-on-one time I have with my son. I know all his habits, I can decipher his toddler language and can comfort him when something just isn’t going his way. Because we have spent so many mornings, evenings and weekends together, I am his go-to, his protector. And that’s pretty cool. Dad may have the keys to the tractor and access to the cows, but I have the ability to console him when he’s sick and find the blanket he’s misplaced.

I didn’t grow up hoping to find a husband who wouldn’t be home for dinner or away for entire nights and days at a time. But I love and respect what my husband does and I know he is living out his dream. For all the moments I want to complain and fight, I have to remember that there are millions of other women in my shoes and I am one of the lucky ones. Some are fortunate to have a spouse that will eventually return home. Some have forever lost their partner and others are simply hoping that one day they will have the opportunity to just be a parent. My situation may not be what I envisioned as a child but I know I have much to be thankful for.

It’s never easy juggling a job, friends, children, cooking, cleaning, laundry and extra obligations. But I count myself fortunate to have a wonderful little boy who enjoys my company because it’s only a matter of time before friends, sports and the farm will pull him in a million directions. I will never love the idea of going it alone but I have learned to appreciate the time I get to spend as a parent. It’s priceless and fleeting.

New Years Resolutions

January is nearly half over and I’m just now getting around to seriously thinking about my New Years resolutions. (I hope this isn’t a sign of my success with said resolution).

This year I wanted to do something different, something that would benefit those around me – not just me – and something that would hopefully make my life better. So, I have decided to become a more productive farm wife.

What does that mean? Well, as it stands right now, I am a far cry from a real farm wife. I don’t cook all that often, I don’t do a lot of meal prep for the guys and I’ve been a little lazy on little things like making the bed, doing laundry in a timely fashion and keeping an organized house. But I’m aiming to change all of that.

I can blame my tornado of a toddler son, my full-time, off-the-farm job and my various volunteer commitments and the fact my husband just isn’t around all that often, but the fact it, if I think I can, then I know I can.

So my first step has been small – making the bed each morning. It makes my bedroom feel more organized and put together and takes about two seconds total – who knew! My second step has been in the kitchen, where I have been making an effort to cook at least five meals a week. That’s a far cry from a week of meals but for me, that’s big. (Although I must admit, I do consider mac and cheese and hot dogs a legitimate family dinner!)

I’ve embraced meal planning, Pinterest and new cooking tools – like my cast iron skillet. My husband’s enjoyed coming home to home cooked meal – except for the onions – he doesn’t like onions! So onion-free it is!

My next step is a cleaning routine that I can spread out over the course of a week so my Saturday isn’t filled is vacuums and toilet bowl cleaner.

I’m starting to realize this whole farm wife thing has its challenges but I have all of 2015 to figure it out! Here’s to 365 – ok more like 340-some days of cleaning, organizing and scheduling. Any and all tips, tricks and advice is much appreciate!

One of my new years resolutions is to cook more. This christmas I added several new cookies tools to my kitchen, including this 10" cast iron skillet. My first attempt at cast iron cooking was The Pioneer Woman's chocolate chip cookies.
One of my new years resolutions is to cook more. This christmas I added several new cookies tools to my kitchen, including this 10″ cast iron skillet. My first attempt at cast iron cooking was The Pioneer Woman’s chocolate chip cookies.