I wish you could have been there to see it. I was speaking to a farm couple and when I asked, “when is it your wife’s turn to get what she wants?”, I saw the farmer’s wife poke him in the arm.
Older farm men usually hate it when I ask that question—they’re very content to keep living on the home place, being in the center of activity, and looking out for the daily details of farm life.
On the other hand, their loving and faithful wives of forty or more years are not so keen to look into the face of a farm stress mess. They were hoping that last harvest was their last crop on the farm.
As a farm family coach, I’ve done a “roles storyboard” for my life, to help me focus on the key things I want to make happen for a more satisfying life.
I want to give you the tools to do the same.
Here’s how you can rejuvenate your roles (including as a farm spouse or woman in agriculture).
Rejuvenating your roles.
Living with a focus on your key goals helps you make concrete, detailed plans to block off time for the things you need…for you.
Yes, this is about you.
It’s about taking good care of yourself: extreme self-care so your well is full and flowing with encouragement and energy to do the tasks the farm team needs from you.
It’s also about creating a sense of harmony—not resentment—when your needs are not being met. You’re ready to execute actions in your six major roles because you have a plan.
You know what you are going to start or continue doing, and you know what you’re going to stop doing.
Six Important Roles of Women in Agriculture—and How to Rejuvenate Them
Let’s see if you can fill in your own roles storyboard with visions and plans for what you want and need. Do this for each of the six roles.
To help you do this, I’m going to offer up personal details from my own plan..
After traveling to help farm families with succession planning, I come home feeling like I’ve eaten too much and haven’t moved enough.
For me, rejuvenating this role for myself means:
- Going for more walks, or hitting the treadmill 3 times a week.
- I “write what I bite” as I journal my food intake.(Brightlineeating.com )
- I journal in my diary every night before sleep in order to “brain dump the details” onto paper and get a good sleep.
Mindful eating, walking, regular exercise and good sleep are my personal self-care goals.
Crop care is exciting on the farm, and marriage time is usually squeezed into a quick morning hug and a 15-minute update while supper is inhaled.
What I want to focus on is making deposits of encouragement to my hubby and keeping things on the home front running smoothly. I don’t take tensions personally, and I focus on solving problems when the crop is the first priority. My attitude is one of gratitude for the privilege we have of being good land stewards.
My dating expectations are realistic: a ride together to check fields, and a quiet Sunday to refresh our tired bodies and engage affectionately with each other.
At my coaching training retreat, I met a professional career woman who had “weekly” date nights, quarterly weekend romantic getaways, and yearly two-week vacations to keep her marriage singing along.
We are not singing in the same choir obviously.
My challenge to you is, are you whining and nagging and complaining about the state of your marriage? Or are you consciously building up the emotionally-wedded bank account?
My three key role rejuvenation goals for couple time are:
- To block off time on Sundays to connect.
- To turn off the TV and go for walks together instead.
- To look for specific ways to show acts of service to my husband so he feels cherished. I know cards, gifts, and verbal affirmation are not his preferred love language. He likes action: the hot meals, the tidied office, and the willingness to run for parts. Some women who operate equipment appreciate meals made for them.
What are your plans to rejuvenate your family? Personally, I love family gathering celebrations.
Farming always demands lots of time, yet we can all find time to show appreciation for hard work. Verbal and written affirmation via notes, cards, texts, and Facebook can go a long way to helping the family stay connected during stressful times.
If you’re sending a card of encouragement, take time to tell the recipient how much they mean to you. Invite cousins to visit. Cook together with your adult children on rainy days when you can’t do outside work.
A long time ago, I was intent on teaching our son to be skilled in the kitchen. In fact, it was on my role sheet as an intentional goal. Now,he is managing our farm and leaves most of the cooking to his spouse. He was a great cook.
I’m ready to get my own affairs in better order, and feed the burn barrel.
I’ve started a binder for our kids to grab if we die suddenly, or if something happens and they need to know how to carry on the business of life and the farm.
Ongoing cleaning of both my office and the farm office are a high priority. Clutter drains energy and as I age I need all the energy I can manage!
I also grab flowers from my garden or shrubs to keep me company at my desk. Beauty creates energy. What treasures in your home can you re-purpose or re-arrange to bring you a sense of delight in your workspace?
I regularly reflect on the financials of our personal wealth bubble and have some crucial conversations with our financial advisors and accountant.
I talk a lot more about financial advisors for farm families here and how they can help with generational transfers, farm succession planning, and much more.
Part of the resentment of many farm women is that their dreams also require some financial backing. Sometimes it seems like their goals aren’t given the support they deserve. Income tax reports will also shine a light on your situation and what steps you might want to take to improve your financial well-being.
Your true friends are the ones who show up on your doorstep or phone you, regardless of the “busyness” of the season.
Women know that emotional support beyond the family is important. Gossip is not the goal—the expression of needs and wants and curiosities, held in confidence, is what fuels strong, healthy friendships.
I’m sad that many in my audiences tell me that they have no friendships beyond their spouses.
Did you get too involved in the day-to-day demands of work? Did you expect too much of a relationship and forget that you needed to reciprocate their inputs, that it’s an ebb-and-flow of give-and-take, rooted in genuine care for the other’s well-being?
My closest friend from grade eight, a life-long companion, now lives two time zones away. Phone conversations with her are a healing balm and source of joy when I need a reward for a full day of activity.
For women in agriculture, connections are a key way to stay resilient, so nourish your friendships with an attitude of gratitude.
In our spiritual community, we’re responsible for nourishing our care group. This group consists of young families and older seasoned folks.
Because we have chosen not to work on Sundays, we have a guaranteed time for renewal and rest. We can use Sunday to be part of our church family community and practice hospitality. We can keep meals simple with buns, cheese, jam, pickles, and fresh fruit.
If you’re extroverted like me, you get energy from being with other folks.
I have shared this practice with my clients, who don’t always think it is economically feasible to take a Sabbath rest. It works well for us and is the key to our rejuvenation.
I hear things like, “Oh Elaine, that would send my dad off the rails if we chose to rest on Sunday and not work!”
Well, have you tried it? What is your health and family time worth to you? If it rains, there are lots of other jobs to do, but when do your brain and body get some downtime? I understand many of you have 2 jobs, on the farm and one off the farm. You still need some renewal time.
As entrepreneurs, we should be able to set some of our own timelines for the type of lifestyle that feeds our soul and fuels our passion.
Stop whining about the stress in your life that comes from being women in agriculture. Instead, start filling in your roles storyboard with personal, couple, family, work, friends, and community details. You’ll be amazed at what can happen.
Don’t compare your life with others. Comparison is a joy stealer!
Be rooted and grounded in love. Take care of you!
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This article was originally published on July 19, 2017, and has been updated.