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During this season of outdoor farmers markets, county fairs and trade shows, I meet a lot of people. Some are readers of the column who want to meet me because they’ve been reading my about my life in my Farmwife blog and columns. Others are accidental farmwives themselves and stop by to compare notes and meet one of their tribe.
Accidental farmwives, or women not born into the farming life, tend to be very interesting people. Some of us (myself included) come into the world of farming through marriage.
Perhaps one of the best-known accidental farmwives is Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. She lets readers into her life through her television show on the Food Network, her books, a blog, gorgeous photography and hilarious recipes that involve step-by-step commentary from the funniest farmwife I know. She has also home-schooled her children and is a caregiver for wild mustangs on her Oklahoma ranch.
Others, like Kate Humble in the U.K., feel compelled to enter the farming life for other reasons. Kate rescued a plot of municipal land before it was sold off to a condo corporation. Next she began rescuing animals (including the world’s ugliest pigs) and learning more about the various agricultural uses of her property. Now she has a teaching farm, a boutique and a cafÃ©, and she produces pear cider that’s sold at the neighbourhood pub. You can read more about her and order a copy of her book at Humble by Nature.
Another U.K. farmwife, Bobbi Mothersdale, has published a daily journal of a year in her farming life. It’s a great introduction to the trials, triumphs and seasonal routine on an East Yorkshire farm. Her book Hens, Hooves, Woollies and Wellies is available for purchase online.
If you do a quick search on the Internet, you’re bound to find some accidental farmwives in your area.
Now, the ‘real’ farmwives (who know what they’re doing because they’ve been doing it since they were kids and are multi-generation farmers) have a wealth of information to share. But the accidental ones tend to share it in a more honest, blow-by-blow kind of way because every day, every week, every season brings a new experience. I highly recommend you check out some of their blogs, columns and books if you’re considering becoming a farmwife.
Nurse loves Farmer is a blog set in the Canadian Prairies. Sarah Schultz is also an avid photographer and cook. (These are skills many farmwives seem to have, excepting yours truly. I can cook but it usually involves grilling lean meat or fish and tossing a salad. Done. And my photos usually turn out blurry or with headless subjects.) Schultz is a self-proclaimed agvocate, voicing her perspective on genetically-modified foods, herbicides and raising healthy kids on the farm.
Farmer Elaine Froese uses her background in conflict resolution to assist Canadian farmwives in their growth as farminists.
Canadian freelance writer and photographer Billi J. Miller has met a few female farmers who are opposed to being called farmwives. The term doesn’t bother me in the slightest – in my mind, it has always meant being married to the farm as well as to the Farmer. I don’t split hairs over titles.
I’m inspired by the farmwives (real or accidental) who have managed to produce something unique and special from their property’s bounty. Sheepskin rugs, alpaca wool socks, sweaters and mittens, goat milk soaps and essential oils, fermented tea kombucha, raw honey and jam are just a few of the highly-prized items I’ve seen farmwives produce.
I would like to think I would be inspired to create something from the land, too, if I worked from home full time. We have plenty of mature nut trees on our property. Maybe I could make some sort of low-sugar, preservative-free nut butter to sell. If I were handy and crafty at all. Keep in mind I can barely manage a minimal vegetable garden.
Then again, there is that time the Farmer tried to identify the strange nut tree growing next to the barn by licking the sap coming from its casing. He couldn’t feel his tongue for the next 24 hours.
I suspect it has medicinal properties, as many of the native plants do here on the farm. Maybe someday I’ll take the time to research them. Before my mate ends up hurting himself.
For now, I’ll stick to writing stories about it.
Troy Media columnist Diana Fisher is a freelance writer living on a 200-acre farm along the Kemptville Creek in Oxford Mills, Ont.
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