What It’s Really Like to be Married to a Farmer

A while back, Meggie from Hooiser Farm Babe wrote a post with this same title. While reading her words, I found myself nodding, laughing, and thinking to myself, “Holy goodness. This is exactly how I feel. These things are all true for me too.”

And then I wondered if I could add a few things to the list. I could have used all of her headings and wrote my own thoughts (because, as mentioned, all apply!), but maybe I can add something to the conversation.

My experiences with farming really didn’t begin until I said “I do” that hot August day. I had no idea what I was getting into. I came from a suburban realm where dads came home at 5 and dinner was at 6. In my world, families took summer vacations, slept in on Saturdays, and were always on time to church. Farm life is an entirely different animal.

So, what is it really like being married to a farmer?

You are alone a lot (this is such a big one I had to borrow it from Meggie)
I’m not sure what I expected when I married a farmer, but it wasn’t eating dinner at 8 and spending my weekend by myself. But that’s the nature of farming. Between daily chores, fixing things that are broken, supervising employees, and the crazy times of the year (planting, harvesting, haying, etc.), there isn’t much time for things like vacation, going out for dinner with friends, or weekend getaways. It’s very difficult for the Dairy Man to peel himself away from the dairy, even for a night. I go to a lot of events alone. Watch a lot of TV alone. And talk to our puppy far more than I should…

You do the housework
At first, it was very important for me to keep things equal in the marriage. I didn’t mind doing some of the housework, but I wasn’t doing it all just because I was the girl. I wanted my husband to know how to vacuum, load the dishwasher, and do his own laundry. And he does. But unfortunately there are just times of the year where he can’t. The Dairy Man works 6.5 days a week and usually gets in around 8. I work 5 days and get home at 7. I have more time, so I do most of the housework. But not because I’m the girl. And my husband does know how to do laundry.

You just can’t commit
To events and obligations, that is. This reality drove me crazy during our dating life. If you say you can go bowling with your friends on Friday, then you GO bowling with your friends on Friday. But not if you have to work late. Or if the tractor breaks. Or if there’s a cow having difficulty in labor. These things all take precedence over previous plans.

You’re always late
The dairy makes us late for everything – church, parties, dinner at his parents’ house, vet appointments, and nights out with friends. There’s always one more thing to do, one more thing to fix, or one more problem to tackle. Fortunately our farming community gets it. If you’re 30 minutes late for church you can say, “Sorry, Pastor, problems on the dairy,” and he nods his head knowingly and declares, “Well, we’re just glad you made it!” A secret added bonus of this reality is that people start to get excited when you actually make it to an event. We’re fashionably late. All the time. I like to think we’re the life of every party.

You learn flexibility and patience
Two traits I did NOT possess before I married the Dairy Man were flexibility and patience. I’m a planner. When I say I’m going to do something, I do it. I like to know what to expect and I don’t like surprises. Some might call me type-A OCDish, but I call myself organized. I may or may not have matching baskets labeled by category in the bathroom closet. But farm life doesn’t work that way. It isn’t neat. It isn’t organized. If you want to be happy, you’d better learn to be flexible. And, really, being a little less uptight hasn’t hurt me one bit.

I could go on, but you get the idea. That being said, being married to my farmer is fabulous in so many ways.

He exemplifies work and passion
I’ve never seen someone work so hard. Seriously. My Dairy Man has a work ethic that baffles me. It has downsides, but I am so proud to have a husband that understands the value of an honest day’s work. He also loves it. He’s passionate about it. He talks about it all the time because it’s so exciting to him. Again, annoying, but I think this kind of vocational passion is so rare and admirable.

He asks me about my day
Despite dragging himself into the house exhausted each night, my Dairy Man still cares about my life, my day, and my feelings. I can’t remember the last time he didn’t ask me “how was your day?” before sitting down to dinner. He’s busy and gone a lot, but he always takes a moment to ask about me.

He teaches me something new every day
Did you know that cows can get pink eye? Or that cows don’t give milk until they have a calf? Or that there’s a big difference between a bull and a steer? I’m always learning new things from my Dairy Man. It’s impossible not to. And even though I sometimes learn things I never wanted to know, it’s great to expand my knowledge base.

He loves me
Sometimes I catch the Dairy Man looking at me and the love in his eyes takes my breath away. I love being married to him more with each day. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m not in the land of steel and concrete. I’m here because of him.

And, also, he cleans up quite nicely.

19 thoughts on “What It’s Really Like to be Married to a Farmer

  1. Hilarious! I absolutely love reading your blog! My husband and I have a dairy in Gobles and the resemblance to our lives is uncanny. It is very refreshing to know that someone else feels the same way as I do 🙂 I would love to have a real conversation with you some day!


    1. Hi Erin! Thanks for stopping by. I’m finding that there are a lot more people like me out there than I ever could have thought! This dairy life is a secret club. 🙂 Did you grow up around farming or was it all new to you when you met your hubby?

  2. I REALLY enjoyed reading your post too and thanks so much for the mention!!! Being married to a farmer certainly isn’t easy (or glamorous!), but we wouldn’t have it any other way, would we?! Before we had Baby RayRay I also spent ALOT of hours on the couch cuddling and chatting with our puppy! LOL! 🙂

  3. I really loved this post! I should email this to my fiance because we’re both dairy farmers…. I wonder who will do our house work?! 🙂 But I wouldn’t trade my dairyman for anything either regardless of eating dinner at 8 at night and a messy house.

  4. I could easily post this as my life as well! I think one of the most frustrating parts to me is not being able to commit to plans. I also say, “Now if everything works perfectly, there are no calves or sick cows, and you get done somewhat early, do you think there is a possibility we might be able to ____________________________.” That’s the only way I can somewhat get my farmer to commit to possibly doing something in advance. The worst is trying to plan a holiday gathering with my family. (We live 2 hours away from them.) I read this post to my farmer, and he agreed it was our life, only substitute a cat for the dog:)

  5. lovely thoughts mana…although i do have to admit that the lateness might not be entirely the dairyman’s fault 🙂

  6. You are such a talented writer. I just love reading your posts. Like others who have commented, I too can relate to this posting. My Farmer is notoriously 30 minutes late for everything too. We call this “McCormack Time”. When we absolutely have to be someplace on time, then he is given a time that is 30 minutes before we actually have to be there. Looking forward to your future postings.

  7. Stumbled across your blog and I fell in love! I feel like you’re my long lost sister or something… Coming from a complete stranger I’m sure that sounds uber weird. I LOVE this post! And one hundred percent UNDERSTAND this feeling.. I love my farmer with all my heart. He’s one of the most amazing, kind, understanding, ( I could go on and on) person ever. I made the choice to move from Northern California (a town of 120,000) to rural North Dakota (a town of 800) and become a part of this life. I left behind my entire family, friends, and basically the place I’ve known my whole life to start a life with this farmer who stole my heart. And although my love for my farmer runs deep, it doesn’t mean that sometimes loving him is hard. There were nights during harvest when I felt utterly and completely alone.. coming from a girl who prides herself on Independence, this was a new one for me. Being away from my family and my previous social network is hard, and it’s even harder when you are home alone for 12-14 hours in a day. I work from home as of right now. I also read your post on making new friends in a new town and completely understand that feeling as well. It is so hard to establish yourself in a new place, both socially as well as physically. There are times when I get annoyed or angry about ALWAYS having to do the dishes or the laundry or whatever. Some days I get SO sick of cleaning and for someone who tends to be a neat freak, letting messes pile up doesn’t help that. Sometimes I just want to rip my hair out. I, too am a planner, and when I never know what our plans are until RIGHT before because we could be harvesting that day, or we could be planting, or whatever… It’s beyond frustrating… Like I said, I totally GET every word in this post… But then I find perspective. My farmer picks up on when I am having bad days and despite the fact he may be going a million miles a minute and working 14 hours in a day, he takes the time to find out if I’m okay and how I am feeling. He makes sure that even if he’s not home that I know he is thinking about me. He sincerely cares about my well being. And when I do get out of my anger or frustration and make it out to the field with him, I learn. Farming has taught me so much more about life than I would have ever thought possible. I see his passion for what he does. I see how hard he works. And it inspires me. It gives me perspective. And it makes me realize how fortunate I am to have found someone like him. And when I think about it, I have no doubts about moving here and I wouldn’t change my life right now for anything…

    Anyways, sorry about the long comment! I just had to share! This really touched me and I needed to read it tonight, THANK YOU! And I look forward to more posts from you!

    I share our lifes, farming, love, and photography on http://www.jldphotographblog.com

  8. Here is what it is like to be the child of a farmer. Dad doesn’t show up on time or EVER to Birthdays, Christmas, school plays, softball games. He doesn’t have time or make time to play catch, go camping,read to you or do help with your homework. He isn’t there to help mom with diapers, cleaning, cooking, or grocery shopping. Here is what these men including my father and brother forget is that they are choosing their job over their relationships. And although they will argue that it not just a job. It is just a job! Look what you have to look forward to! Good luck with that.

    1. I agree with Sally. I have been married to my farmer for 16+ years. I am essentially a single parent, solely responsible for everything with our children, house, school, church, doctors, dentist, family events, etc. I work full-time outside the home, am the primary breadwinner, and take on ALL of the family duties at home. Farming is a lifestyle, and unfortunately those who choose it often neglect everything else for it. I found this blog during my online search for messages to pass my husband about making our family a priority, in the hope that he will choose me and our children over the farm before I decide to call it quits.

      I enjoy reading this blog (Jess – you are a gifted writer and photographer!), but I read it with knowledge of what is likely to come to this young married couple’s life. There is a future of resentment and loneliness as the wife/mother gives all of herself to the relationship and family, while the “farmer” gives only to the farm. It is his retreat, his excuse, and will ultimately be the cause of much unhappiness.

      1. I am currently dating a very hard working and busy dairy man. With this being our sixth year of being a couple, you would probably say I am an expert dairy girlfriend…but I’m not even close. I still get frustrated, impatient, lonely and heart broken. The farm is everything to my man and that is something us girls just have to respect and learn to understand. It’s really hard and I’m glad others understand and experience the frustration I experience when it comes to going on dates, seeing friends and just wanting to see my man for at least 30 minutes everyday. It’s hard, I know. But at the end of the day, when you look outside at the corn growing or the hay being bailed, you know it’s worth every hard day and all of the hard work your farmer and the even harder work you put in yourself. And trust me, even after 6 years of it and growing up in a family where my parents were home at 5:00 every night, I sometimes wish I had a life like that. But when I look back at these past 6 years, I don’t ever think of the lonely and frustrating times, I just see happiness and love.

        I’m now just waiting for a diamond ring 😉

    1. Hi Kate. Without knowing your specific situation, this is a nearly impossible question to answer! But I can tell you what was the tipping point for me. I desperately wanted to move to Chicago after college graduation. But I was also in love with a farmer. The ultimate decision for me came down to: would Chicago make me happy without him in my life? For me (and again, this is totally individual) the answer was no. I knew that I would love life in the city but I didn’t want to spend life apart from him. It was the ultimate compromise but the best decision of my life. He mattered more to me than skyscrapers and a Starbucks on every corner. 🙂 Just be honest with yourself and with him. And once you make your decision, stick to it. I had to keep resentment out of my heart because he didn’t MAKE me do anything. I chose this and I chose him. We’re in this together. Just make sure your man compromises too (date nights, trips in the winter after harvest, etc). I hope that helps, even a little bit? Good luck!

  9. After having a particularly doldrum week in the midst of alfalfa cutting shenanigans, the internet led me to your post. I appreciate your words; they resonate with our life and helped me feel better equipped to love my dairy farmer deeply even when “6:30” turns into 8:30 dinner and we have to table watching “Anne of Green Gables” one more night. Although, come to think of it, maybe that’s what is keeping him away, haha!
    If I were to add on, I would add “watching a movie, start to finish” is not an option.
    But boy, we are blessed by our dairy men. I know human love deeper than any other relationship because my diary man treats our relationship with such savor. The little time we have together requires us to be fully present. And it feels so good to have him earnestly ask that I sit with him while he hauls manure. So romantic 🙂

  10. My husband is a small family farmer. I support us financially, health insurance, retirement, etc. He might have some profit at the end of the year that doesn’t go back to the farm expense, but it is not much. He’s gone from sun up to sun down and beyond in the summer. He’s home in the winter. I’m working full time then I’m alone nights and weekends. We don’t have children and won’t be having them. We fight all the time. I feel like we are broke just so he can do what he likes. He’s with his parents and brother non stop. I am so lonely. I make good money and we don’t have kids, yet I’m doing yard work that I hate because I can’t afford to hire help. I wake up in the morning trying to be loving and supportive, but by the end of the day I’m crying on the bathroom floor alone. I don’t know why we are “sacrificing“ for this??? I try to talk to him, but he doesn’t seem to get it. It’s not all about the money. I am alone all the time. When I was single, I could afford to do fun things. Now I’m married, but alone and broke so he can do the work he wants to do. I do not understand the benefits of farming for us??? When we met he was working full time, too. We agreed that he would quit the full time job and “just farm” so that we could try to have a family. I would be the breadwinner. Now we aren’t having kids mainly because we fight so much. He says I’m always angry. I feel abandoned, not angry.

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