Women Farmers: Yes, We Wear Makeup

In August, I went to the AgChat Conference in North Carolina. On the way back on my flight from O’hare to Minneapolis, I was seated next to a gentleman flying in for a conference. Behind us, two young boys were fighting in their seats right before take-off. The gentleman asked where their parents were, only to be answered from the man in the seat beside us that they were unaccompanied minors from the looks of their wristbands.

They kept fighting. One brother pushed the other brother, hard enough into the seat’s arm rest. Tears ensued. The flight attendant was struggling to get them both buckled and in their seats to take off. The gentleman asked me if I minded him moving and having one of the kids sit next to me and he would sit next to the other. I smiled, said no and explained I have 4 nieces and nephews. The flight attendant thanked us profusely. Heck, she even offered me my choice of liquor on the house!

At first, the boy next to me was very upset and worried. After all, he was going to have to explain to his mom how he got that shiner that was developing under his eye. But after awhile, he warmed up and started talking. He liked to play football. His parents were divorced. He was flying back home from spending the summer at his dad’s. We started talking about what he did all summer when he mentioned his Grandpa had a hobby farm. I smiled and said, “Oh really, I’m a farmer too.”

He stopped. Looked at me quizzically and responded, “You don’t look like a farmer.”

“I don’t?” I asked, thinking he was going to tell me I was too young.

Instead, the young man quipped, “You wear makeup. Farmers shouldn’t wear makeup. You’re too pretty to be farmer.”

Thanks for the compliment (in a roundabout way), I have to take them where I can. There is one thing you can say about children, they will tell you the truth, bless their hearts. I proceeded to bring out my phone (don’t worry, it was on airplane mode, I swear!) and show him pictures of some of my animals, equipment, and farm scenes. We talked about combines, tractors, chickens, corn, bins, hunting, rabbits, cats and dogs too. We got off the plane, and parted our ways, only to see him, his brother and mom waiting for their step-dad to pick them up at the pick-up/drop-off area. She thanked me. I said no need, and I got a hug from the young man. I hopped in my husband’s truck and recounted my fun airplane ride home.

He really liked the pictures of my rabbits. This is Fidget.

He really liked the pictures of my rabbits. This is Fidget.

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His eyes got pretty wide when I told him I drive equipment like this.

So why am I writing about it now? I am a farmer. A young farmer. Yes, I wear makeup. I can’t go out of the house without a coat of mascara and some foundation at the very least. So why can’t farmer’s wear makeup?

Why can’t farmers be female? Now, more than ever, female farmers are entering the great big picture of agriculture. They have degrees in business, marketing, chemistry, biology, management, animal science, plant science, communications and more. They are taking over family farms or starting new ones. They are out in the fields cultivating, planting and harvesting. They are in the barns with the livestock. They are cleaning pens, administering shots, completing records on new calves, and filling feed tanks. And most of them, have children they take care of while doing all of this too! I’ve worked with lots of women farmers, from ones that own and operate CSA’s, to ones that operate a steer operation, others that operate dairy farms, and even one that owns an apple orchard.

I farm with my husband. I help drive tractor and combine. When we get our flock of meat chickens every year, I do all the chores for that. I help cut down trees when they are in the field. I pick rock out in the field. I help on the communications side of things, running the Facebook page and doing public speaking engagements. I help with paperwork (my least favorite job!) and so much more. I grew up on a farm. Before school, I had to feed baby calves. After school, I had to help feed the cattle or help with shipping. Castration and dehorning time was all hands on deck at our farm. The work of a farmer is something I am very familiar with.

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Rock picking has been one of my standard jobs on the farm.

So if the newest generation still thinks farmers are all male or like their grandpa, what can we do to change that perception? How can we as females, send the message that women are farmers too? It starts with blogs like this one. It starts with getting out there and speaking about our farms. It starts with helping out with classroom education. It starts with volunteering with 4-H, FFA, Open Class and county fairs. It starts by making our voices heard as females.

I’m so glad that other female’s that are involved in agriculture are picking up on this too. The Pinke Post is currently featuring 30 days of Women in Ag. Minnesota Farmer is a great blog, where she does a lot of the farm work right alongside her husband, like driving the combine or plowing fields. Or one of my favorite farming women, Meg Brown who has some great, no-nonsense posts about the truth and facts of farm life.

Women can be farmers too. They can be a farmer with their diamond earrings in while milking cows. They can be a farmer wearing fancy cowboy boots while they combine. Or in my case, they can be a farmer who wears makeup, and explains life on the farm to a boy sitting next to me at 30,000 feet in the air.

faithfarmingandcowboyboots.wordpress.com

Yes, I farm, and yes, I wear makeup.

-Sara 

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30 comments

  1. This is an amazing post. You are beautiful and you are a farmer, why can’t that coincide? Here’s to changing the world, one little brother at a time :) I hope you had a great time at conference!!

  2. Love it! Early this school year I was talking corn to 1st grade and introduced myself as a farmer. One little boy gave me the most quizzical, doubtful look and shook his head, “No. Farmers don’t wear shoes like that.” I had on a pair of sparkly, heeled sandals. Well . . . he might be right. : ) Great post

  3. Great post, Sara! You nailed it! I am a new farm wife and I, too, wear makeup…and when I’m not on the farm, jewelry, nice clothes and pretty shoes too. Have you see my Facebook farm page? You might enjoy it–though it’s geared towards women who want to move from the city to the farm, there are lots of seasoned farm wives and even men on my page. Please check it out if you’ve a moment. It’s on Facebook, and the name of the page is City Life to Farm Life and Wife.

  4. Enjoyed your story very much! I grew up on a west central Iowa farm but took a city job 42 years ago. I still visit my brother’s small farm several times a year when I return “home” to visit another brother.

  5. I Want to be a Farmer by Susan Wall
    “So you want to be a farmer?” Grandpa asked the boy,
    “Oh yes I do Grandpa!, He replied with joy.
    I will buy big tractors and take them to the field,
    And plant and tend my crops and make big yields.”

    Then looking at the little girl, Grandpa asked her too,
    What will a pretty little thing like you want to do?”
    She sat up straight with a twinkle in her eye
    And said, Grandpa, I want to be a farmer until the day I die!”

    Somewhat shocked, Grandpa said, “Honey do you think you can?”
    And she said, “Yes, just as good as any man!
    I will follow what you teach me, and learn a little more
    Then I’ll join American Agri Women, They will help for sure.

    “Don’t you want to marry and have a kid or two?”
    “But that’s the best part Grandpa, they will be farmers too!”
    Grandpa scratched his head and smiled and said, “Well, I’ll be!
    You’ve got what it takes, you’re a lot like me!”

    Hope you enjoy my poem. I have been a farmer all of my life with my husband and children. I am currently VP of Illinois Agri Women. Thanks for your cute story. I wear make up too. Sometimes just the cows and chickens see it but I know I am looking good doing the job I love.

  6. Sara you have a wonderful sense of humor, pride and perspective. Three things you need to be a farm wife. Just so you know, you aren’t the first to travel these roads. I married my farmer husband 45 years ago and have traveled down the same road you are now venturing onto. I’ve heard the same comments from students and teachers alike about not looking like a farmer. To hear many of this younger generation of farmer, those of us who have been in farming for years didn’t do the things you all think are so unique now. No, we didn’t have social media, we did it the old fashioned way. We traveled to schools and meetings, toting along photos and examples of what we do on the farm to share with our audiance. Fortunately, you can reach more consumers with one Blogg than we did in days of travel. I, like you, can go from a board meeting in Washington wearing my heels and make-up to the barn, wearing muck boots and bibs, in a matter of hours. My horses have never seen me without makeup! I just returned from Niagara Falls and Ontario, Canada where women from across the U.S. and Canada came together to learn more about each other and to promote agriculture at an American Agri-Women convention. The road you are traveling is not a new one but one worn smooth by the generation of farmers and farmers’ wives before you. It’s fulfilling to know that this new generation farmer is still willing to tell our story, using modern technology available to get that story out faster and to a larger audiance than we did. We’ve worn our heels and make-up for generations, it just gets noticed more now than before. Continue your efforts in telling the great story of agriculture and God Bless you for your efforts.

    1. I’m thankful for such a community of support that so many women in agriculture have offered up! It is nice to know we have such amazing women working hard in agriculture! I get out and speak about once a month through a group called Farming Today, and still, public speaking is one of my favorite ways to share my story (besides social media!).

  7. Great post! I work in Kenya with small scale farmers (my company provides biogas systems for them). Many of the farmers we work with are women. Women seem to do most of the farming work and they work really really hard! I had a funny experience one day when a man came into our office and after talking for a few minutes asked if my family in the US had cows. I said no, we don’t have a farm. He was so surprised and asked what do you mean you don’t have a farm??? It is still very normal here for everyone to have a family farm that they go to on vacation, or can go retire to when they get old (or lose their jobs in the cities) and all children will be given part of the farm when they grow up! I wonder if farming in Kenya will change and be more like the US in future years and people will be surprised to see women farming.

    1. That sounds so interesting! One of my dreams is to get to visit other countries to see first hand, how agriculture is different, what works for them, and how it plays into their economy as well.

  8. I enjoyed reading your blog, Sara. I grew up on a crop farm in Idaho and still work with my Dad today. I would not trade my agriculture experiences for anything! It’s fantastic that we are making such an incredible mark on the world and showing them that we CAN be an important part of farming. My family has been farming on the same land for over 100 years and my wish is that they will continue for another century and beyond! Cheers to all the female farmers out there – you’ve all made the world a better place!

  9. Nice job! I always introduce myself as a farmer and get the response “really”? If I say “I farm with my husband”, then it generally goes unnoticed because they assume I’m not the one running the equipment. What I don’t get is questions from our local Ag businesses. None of them question me when I order parts or chemicals because they know that I know what I’m talking about, which is really nice! I tweet pics from the equipment so that people can see, its NOT just guys out there running the farm!

  10. Some of us female farmers are beekeepers too. We wear make up & jewellery too, just not usually whilst working on the bees, because lets face it – no one can see us under our beesuits anyway!

  11. My son, a TIllamook Dairy farmer, wants to know if you have a sister who’s single! When gals find out how many hours a dairy farmer works, they tend to eventually run the other way…. He’s needing to find someone who doesn’t mind working the farm, and cooks, like Mom did :) (Mom = retired dairy farmer and grandkid sitter ! ) LOL …. (Written in jest, but a serious problem!)

  12. I love this! I’m a 25-year old woman in ag, and don’t have the “stereotypical” farmer look – blonde, bling-y, and I love make-up. It does give me a bit of a disadvantage when I have to prove to producers and our customers that I am a serious ag professional. I look forward to the day when my daughters can be beautiful, strong young ladies and also farmers (if they want) and won’t get questioned about it one way or the other. Thank you for posting!

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