Woman vs. Farm: On Being a Farm Wife.

15 Apr

My Dairy Man spends a lot of time out on the dairy. Like, a lot. He usually hits the dirt around 7 a.m. and I see neither hide nor hair of him until 8 or 9 p.m.

The time between when I get home from work and when I see the hardworking farmer can be a lonely time. In the first few months of our marriage (harvest time), it was actually much worse. I resented it. I felt like I barely had a husband. When he finally got home, we would scarf down a quick dinner, spend 20-30 minutes catching up, and then head to bed so that we could wake up to do it all over again. It got better when we actually started living on the dairy, but the Dairy Man’s life is still at the mercy of the farm. If something breaks, he has to fix it. If an employee needs assistance, he has to help. If the cows get out, he obviously has to wrangle. Regardless of the time, day or night, the dairy almost always comes first.

This reality has been the most challenging adjustment as I learn how to live as a modern farm wife. I grew up in a family that treated work very differently. My dad was home for dinner almost every night; no one was calling him at 4 a.m. to report a problem; he could plan his days and we could plan on him.

But farming is very different. Long hours and lack of freedom come with the territory. This is your name on the line, your reputation, your livelihood. There is a high level of personal investment. Farming is like any other small business … if the business were on steroids. Farming will never, ever be a 9-5.

Honestly? I’m still adjusting. I suspect it may take years. The all-encompassing nature of the farm still shocks and annoys me. My Dairy Man will spend the rest of his life trying to find balance and I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to accept that we often won’t achieve it.

A few months before we got married, Dairy Man and I were in a premarital counseling session that changed everything. While addressing my fears of living in the country and marrying a farmer, I came up with a laundry list of worries: living in the middle of nowhere, dealing with my husband’s work schedule, and giving up career options to follow him. Would he make enough time for me? Would I get lonely? How could I survive when the nearest mall or Starbucks was 45 minutes away? What kind of future would I have?

When I stopped to take a breath, Dairy Man started talking. He talked about his love of farming and his eagerness to grow and innovate on the dairy. His passion was palpable; his eyes were gleaming; his ambition was remarkable. And then he said, “But I feel so guilty about all of this because I know Jess is unhappy. And I understand, but I just don’t know what to do.”

BAM. My selfishness hit me like a load of bricks. And it hurt. It hurt to see that I was unintentionally stomping all over his dreams. It hurt to know that I was taking the joy out of something he loved so much. That’s when I decided to stop digging in my heels. I chose him and thus, I chose this life. If we were going to be happy, I would have to start being ok with this.

I’m proud of my husband. I’m proud of how hard he works and how big he dreams. He inspires me to do more and push myself harder. I need to reciprocate. Even though the stiletto-wearing city girl from five years ago would have been horrified at the prospect of living in the land of sky, dirt, and cows, this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

And so, when I am eating yet another dinner alone, I remind myself why I’m here. The Dairy Man and I both have things to learn, but we’re on the same team. Even if the team uniform requires old jeans and rubber boots.


27 Responses to “Woman vs. Farm: On Being a Farm Wife.”

  1. Jean 04/15/2011 at 9:16 pm #


  2. mom 04/16/2011 at 10:02 am #

    I love you. Sometimes life is hard to understand but God has us in his hands. Marriage is awesome but also alot of hard work. Selfishness must be thrown out the window. The first years of marriage are a challenge, trying to find the balance and make a family. You should write a book or I highly recommend puzzles. Love you.

  3. Mandy 04/16/2011 at 10:38 am #

    post=great as usual.
    sister visit to fremont=asap.

  4. Mom F 04/16/2011 at 1:55 pm #

    farm = quantity
    wife = quality!!!!

  5. Liz 04/16/2011 at 2:33 pm #

    lovely post, jess. just think: lots of time for you to work on decorating + renovating skills! looking forward to seeing you in person again soon. ps. have you been in target recently? there was an orange top that made me think of you… http://www.target.com/Mossimo-Applique-Tank-Hot-Orange/dp/B004C0NV64/ref=sc_qi_detaillink

  6. Raelands Farm Barrington 03/16/2013 at 5:43 am #

    Love this post. I’m engaged to a dairy farmer (we’re Australians) and will be moving to the family dairy farm in a few months. I’m a city girl myself and so it’s great to be able to read your blog and hear about someone else’s experiences with the transition from city to farm. Thanks so much for writing so honestly about your experiences. I look forward to hearing more about your life as a farmer’s wife. Cheers!

    • the Modern Farm Wife 03/18/2013 at 8:35 am #

      Thanks! And congratulations on your pending marriage! These dairy men are a crazy lot, but their vocational passion is infectious and admirable. It gets easier, promise. Just get a really cute pair of rubber boots and institute mandatory date nights NOW. 🙂

  7. Rachel 09/06/2013 at 10:55 am #

    I stumbled upon your blog today and can’t express how good it feels to know another woman is out there who can admit to the worries and frustrations that come with being a farmer’s wife. My fiancee and I are to be married next June and I’ve been slowly adapting to the farming culture. After attending college to be a teacher, and being unsuccessful at finding a job, we both agreed that moving back home and working on his family’s dairy farm was the best option for us (and made him so happy). But after being engulfed in this life for the past few months, its challenging to not become frustrated with the long days, late dinners, and sometimes lonely nights. I, too, am so proud of my partner, and admire him so much, but continue to struggle with the life of a “farmers wife”. Also, to add in that no one around me understands how we can’t “just make plans on a Friday night” or plan a weekend trip to getaway. It was so shocking at first, but now I’m adjusting better. Reading your blog makes me feel so much better, knowing I’m not the only one who struggles and that there are farmers wives out there that I can trun to for support and understanding. Thank you! I look forward to reading more from you! You are an inspiration 🙂

    • the Modern Farm Wife 12/30/2013 at 11:56 am #

      Thanks, Rachel! It has definitely helped me to find other people who understand this life. And even people who don’t understand at first (like my family) eventually figure things out. 🙂 Blessings as you prepare for your wedding in June!

  8. Catie 12/30/2013 at 2:07 am #

    I just discoverd your blog tonight. It’s inspiring. I have never been able to connect my story with anyone else. I am a Las Vegas native, transplanted in Wisconsin. I grew up in a desert, in glamour, in an upper middle class suburban family.
    Then boom, I meet a dairy farmer. The most hard working, smart, creative, funny, humble man that I have ever met. So different from any other man.
    And I’ve spent the last two years listening to all my friends and family telling me it could never work.
    How could I love a man when we can’t go on dates, or go to weddings, family events, or really go anywhere besides the farm.
    And yet I adore him. Respect him. Idolize him for his excessive devotion to his farm.
    So thank you. You give me hope. Keep writing.

    • the Modern Farm Wife 12/30/2013 at 12:17 pm #

      What a beautiful story, Catie! I can imagine the transition from Vegas to Wisconsin can be a little rough — especially during our frigid Midwest winters. 🙂 This life is challenging, but it CAN and DOES work. And it’s beautiful. Best wishes to you and your farmer!

  9. Katie 03/09/2014 at 8:58 pm #

    Love your blog and love this post. Could’ve wrote it myself… Since I live in the Thumb.of Michigan, I can relate to almost everything. =)

    • the Modern Farm Wife 08/11/2014 at 8:42 am #

      Thanks for commenting, Katie! We have some friends that dairy in Bad Axe, so I’ve actually been to your part of the world 🙂

  10. Millie 07/25/2014 at 7:04 am #

    What an incredible find – your stories are fab and your journey is inspiring!
    My farmer and I are in Australia, doing long distance. I spend my weeks in the city and swap my heels & dresses for gumboots & hoodies as many weekends as possible on the farm with my leading man.
    I too struggle with my family/friends not understanding why I have no idea what our plans are until we know what the weather forecast says or if something needs to be fixed, built, transported, checked, etc!
    Thank you for sharing your real experiences and for helping me remember why this is so worth it. I hope our story ends up as wonderful as yours 🙂

    • the Modern Farm Wife 08/11/2014 at 8:44 am #

      Aw, you are sweet, Millie! I’m sure you will have a wonderful story. This life isn’t easy, but good things rarely are! Best wishes as you tromp around in gumboots with your love 🙂

  11. Louise5775 10/08/2014 at 3:30 am #

    What about your dreams? Has he heard what yours are? Or don’t you have any? Marriage is 50/50 and it sounds like you’re just being walked all over on. I hope you feel the same when you’ve had a baby. I ended up being very poorly because he couldn’t wait to get back to work instead of looking after his sick wife and baby. He should have put us as a priority. My brother has an incredibly demanding job but he still puts his family first. Farming is another means if making money and he’s lucky he enjoys his job. If he does it for any other reason he’s putting work over you, your health and your family. Nothing is more important than that the health of a human being.

  12. skpixie09 11/14/2016 at 10:01 pm #

    I don’t know when you posted this but I just came across it tonight. I have the exact same issue with the exception that my husband is a grain farmer. It’s been a huge adjustment and there are still times(like tonight) when it’s really hard knowing the farm comes first. I hear “family should always come first” and people make judgements about my husband not being around to help at certain times and it’s hard. I try to deal with it the best I can but every time someone tells me that he should be putting our family first I start to have my doubts.


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