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How do you know you’re a farm wife? | Karen Schwaller

Sooner or later, every farm wife begins to feel like one.

She is often seen in the shadow of her husband, yet she manages to find the gall to work side by side with him on projects that lead them through everything from nailing tin onto barn roofs, to burrowing through the aromatic piles which accumulate underneath the farrowing crates. She may be handling the manure scraper in one hand while leafing through a job description of the farm wife with the other hand…wondering if these tasks are in the fine print, or if she is pitching out some of her husband’s own brand of philosophy at the end of the scraper.

There are signs that can tell you if you are a true farm wife. Beware of the ones to which you find a chilling similarity. You may be a farm wife if:

1.) You’re still waiting to see who shot J. R. Ewing because that was the last time you had the time to watch television.

2.) Seed corn numbers begin to make as much sense to you as they do to your husband.

3.) Buying a new pair of jeans for your husband is a mixed-emotion thing. You can finally throw away that pair of mended jeans with 12 or 13 patches, happy to not have to sew on them anymore. But at the same time, you’re disgusted that all that work will now be landfill (or air pollution), and you’re just as disgusted that you will have to do that much work to the pair you just bought before they, too, can be retired.

4.) Family planning discussions make it known that birthday parties for any forthcoming children will probably be winter ones, since you may find yourself in the delivery room by yourself during any given spring, summer or fall month if your husband decides it’s time to plant or harvest the crop, of if there is hay to bale.

5.) You’re walking through the living room and get yelled at by a seed corn-capped, implement-laden five-year-old saying, “You’re walking on my corn field!”

6.) Your clean laundry on the clothes line smells like livestock if the wind is right (or wrong) on manure hauling day, or if it’s dirtier than it was before you washed it because of those obnoxious, wafting clouds of gravel road dust.

7.) Everything else you loathe pales in comparison to the thought of mending a pair of insulated coveralls with a hole in the pliers pocket.

8.) The only sewing machine needles in your possession are the heavier ones which will plow through several layers of denim…or the pliers pocket on a pair of insulated coveralls.

9.) If every family outing becomes a business trip, taking you past every implement dealer on the way to wherever you’re going. And that’s even if you’re not really looking for anything.

10.) If you still (on occasion) judge the worthiness of various farm publications by what’s on the recipe page.

If any or all of these episodes sound familiar to you, don’t panic and head to your nearest mental health facility. You’re probably not crazy, but sometimes it helps to be reassured by a professional that you still have all your marbles, even if they may not be packed as tightly now as they may have been at one time.

Take the husband-helping ritual. “When I go like this (he makes a hand gesture) it means to do (this). When I go like this (he makes another hand gesture), it means to do (that),” he says.

Sounds easy. Then when things get going, he makes some unexplained gesture which makes complete nonsense to the farm wife. She doesn’t have a clue what she’s supposed to do to keep the project going and to keep from getting yelled at, so she punts.

If the decision was wrong and the hollering begins, my husband gets a gesture from me…except he has the luxury of knowing what that one means without even guessing.

Who else but a farm wife would go back for more the next time her husband needs her help? For the life of me, I can’t figure out where those marbles went.