I was recently inspired to share these thoughts by fellow female farmers who live a similar life and who tell it like it is. Despite what anyone says, whether it’s a politician or your neighbor, farming is hard. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult but rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. And being a female farmer comes with its own unique set of challenges.
Many of us are mothers to human children first and foremost, as well as partners to our spouses. But as much as we all try to practice the “family comes first motto,” occasionally family takes a back seat to critical farming matters. Luckily I have a supportive family who understands the urgency of temporary emergencies that pop up on a farm.
Female farmers in particular wear many hats. We’re taxi cab drivers, housekeepers, gardeners and farmers. We wake before our children to get chores started and do end of day chores after our children are tucked in their beds to maximize family time.
What has recently resonated with me is the unmistakeable impact of my children’s experiences on the farm. There is not doubt they are living the dream. But they are also knee deep in the muck of some important life lessons.
We’ve seen 35 goat kids born so far this kidding season with a few losses along the way. The mom laid on one kid suffocating it while delivering the others. Another kid was born with some serious neurological deficiencies making it obvious he would not have a chance at the quality of life we want for our animals. Based on my experience, I knew euthanasia was the best option for him, but by that time my human kids were all over him trying to help. There was no escaping his cries that kept us awake that night knowing we would have to make a humane decision the next day.
We took him to our vet the next morning who didn’t want to give up, which I understood, because that’s his job – to save animals. We love and respect our vet and so we agreed to give him more time. Unfortunately, we lost the kid 24 hours later after around the clock tube feeding and care. As sad as it was, my girls learned to tube feed, they learned about euthanasia, and most of all they learned that life is fragile.
My kids may grow up and decide to take a totally different path. But they will always have a respect for farm life, because not everyone is cut out to be a farmer.