7 Farm Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

By Caitlin Henderson

I wish I could say that being a farm wife always came easy for me and there have been no struggles with the learning process. Unfortunately, I would be lying to you. Most things came fairly easy and without too many road bumps. Take harvest meals and delivering drinks to the field for example; I had those down in no time flat! But there are a few lessons that I learned the hard way and hopefully I can save someone else from having to learn like I did.

Patience really is a virtue. Since I love to have everything perfect, on time, and running smoothly, this has been a struggle. Granted, my husband could be worse than most, but from talking with other farm wives it seems to be a trend among them. I have learned that when he says "be home in 10 minutes" that I can probably bet money it will be closer to an hour. I couldn't tell you the last time he was early for something, or even on time for that matter. So I've learned to embrace it and start supper ten minutes after I called to tell him it's almost ready. There is always something popping up that needs to be taken care of immediately, so try not to get too upset when you get a phone call saying cattle are out and it will be a few more hours just as you are pulling supper out of the oven.

Always remember to shut the gate. Always. Should it slip your mind somehow and the gate does get left open, the cows will get out, you will have to call your husband, and he will have to drop what he is doing to come put cows back in. In my defense, it only happened once and I was pregnant, so I blame my pregnant brain for that one.

Always wear appropriate shoes or keep a pair in the car. I decided to add this one because today I found myself shin deep in wheat stubble while wearing flip flops. If you want to know pain, shove a piece of wheat straw under your toe nail. But just take my word on that one. I actually thought that I had learned this lesson but today I was reminded although small, it could have made my life a lot easier.

Don't try to be a hero. When your husband tells you not to attempt something by yourself, it would be smart to listen. Hopefully you already do and can skip this one, but just in case I'll explain myself. In yet another attempt to be the awesome farm wife I thought I was, I thought instead of waiting on Jake to come pull the tractor out of the mud that I could do it myself and wouldn't he be so surprised when he got there. When I called him I told him that it was "kind of" stuck. And it really wasn't that bad….until I tried to get it unstuck myself. When Jake got to the field he found me sitting in the tractor (probably almost in tears) and mud up to the steps. Instead of him being able to hop in and wiggle it out we had to spend an afternoon getting the big tractor and pulling it out. So once again ladies, listening to your husband will prove to be beneficial.

Ask for help. I know this is obvious and probably doesn't apply to you, but again I confess my stubbornness. I probably shouldn't even put this on the list because I still try to do things without asking, but maybe somebody will be smarter than me. When I was just learning to drive the tractor, Jake sent me and his little brother to hook on a piece of equipment. My future brother-in-law was behind the tractor guiding me back, but I stopped just a little too short. He told me to back up about two more inches and it would be perfect. I was sweating bullets because this was the first time I had backed up the tractor and the clutch was really touchy. Instead of asking for help and to switch Casey spots, I almost ran him over. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. I slammed on the brakes, threw that sucker in park and we looked at each other with huge eyes and silently agreed to never tell Jake what had happened. That was the moment I decided I would rather bombard him with questions than do something that stupid again.

NEVER complain about a slow moving piece of equipment on the highway. In a moment of weakness and running late to an appointment I made a not so nice comment about being stuck behind a tractor. It came out of my mouth before I knew it and I instantly wish I could've taken it back. But I couldn't, and for good reason, I struck a nerve with Jake. I had just bad mouthed our own livelihood and a fellow farmer just doing his job. They don't like to hold people up any more than we like to be held up so just smile and wave to the person up in the tractor as you pass by.

The farm is first. Believe it or not this is a good thing. Your husband is working hard to provide for his family and he is doing whatever it takes to make it successful. I'm not saying he should neglect the family; I'm just saying try to be okay with a lot of long days, late nights, and husbandless weekends. We had our first child the day after we started cutting wheat. He stayed with me every minute I was in the hospital, but when we got home, he had to get back in the combine. I knew that's how it had to be so we spent a lot of time in the air conditioned Suburban so he could hop in and love on the baby for a few minutes. Encourage your husband and try not to make him feel guilty during the busy season when he doesn't get to spend much time at home (I was really guilty of that one). He wants to be home as much as you want him home.

I really hope none of these apply to anyone and that I'm the only bull-headed wife who learned these the hard way. But just in case, take my word for it and make your life a lot easier. Being a farm wife is a hard job and isn't for the faint of heart. This isn't a life for everyone but when you learn to love it, it gets a lot easier and you learn to go with the flow. With all that being said I am extremely proud that my family helps feed the world and makes a difference.

Caitlin is a farm wife in Kansas with her two boys and her husband. She enjoys sharing her faith, raising kids, crops and cattle. They have a crazy life full of adventure, love, and cow manure. For more, visit her blog faithfarmingandfamily.com.

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