Cooking, cleaning, wiping bottoms… no doubt, mothers deserve a day of honor. Pitching straw bales, steadying oneself after a spirited cow knocks you around, hauling an assortment of dirty, gross farm items in your car… the list of sacrifice grows deeper for a farm mom.
For those of us growing up on the farm, we often take for granted that our mothers performed at a different pace with unique challenges. I remember fondly the adventure of running cows back to the barn as my mother and I were on our way to the Easter Sunrise Service in our Sunday best. I would guess she doesn’t remember it with the same affection. I know now why she emphatically repeated to me, attempting to engrain on my memory, the best practices for removing caked on, five-day-old manure stains from our good “cattle show” jeans. (Lay pants out on basement floor, douse with stain pre-treat, wait, soak in wash sink with detergent, wait... again, get new water with detergent as you scrub with a stiff bristle brush, rinse, wring, take upstairs for the good washing machine. Simple, right? Credit me when you pin those laundry instructions.)
Each mother faces her own set of challenges: the single mother, the military mother, the mother whose husband always travels for work. However, growing up with a farm mom, and well into year two of farm motherhood myself, here’s a list to honor the type of mother I know best.
Eleven Ways to Know You’re a Young Farm Mama
11) You only know how to cook in batches for 100.
Okay, maybe not 100. And maybe that’s not the only way you know how to cook. However, you’ve learned the hard way that you never know who’s going to show up for supper. The teenage neighbor boy was called to help put up hay before the rain, and he can put a dent in the pot pretty quickly. You know the look of hope in your brother-in-law's eyes when you deliver a field supper to your hubs, wondering if there’s one for him, as well. No, you’re not required to feed them all, but you know how hard they work on these 17-hour days and feel the least you can do is keep their bellies filled.
10) You get along with the in-laws. Period.
Not only are mine fantastic people, but survival depends on it. Farm decisions have to be made, babysitters are needed as your farmer works late for the twelfth dry night in a row, you need the brother-in-law to step in when your farmer is MIA, and when the work is done, we all need someone to enjoy iced tea and homemade ice cream with on the porch.
9) Your two-year-old farm baby correctly identifies the combine, sprayer, tractor, planter, etc… and you never taught those terms to her.
The only explanations: either this knowledge is instinctually born into all farm kids, or she learned it intuitively as she heard Daddy say “I’ve got to get back to spraying,” while he walked away from the car towards the big rig.
8) Every holiday warrants adding a minimum of one new farm toy to the collection.
You don’t buy the farm toys. (The farm baby is two. She’s not going to remember if Mom and Dad got her anything for Christmas, so like good frugal farm parents… we rewrapped toys she forgot she had.) You’ve told the grandparents that you really don’t need more toys. Yet, Christmas is not complete without the arrival of a new toy barn with all the accessories or a combine and grain cart that look just like Daddy’s. Now, you must find a place for them all.
7) Every piece of machinery that drives by the house is greeted with “Hiiiiiiiiiii Daddddddddddy!!!!!!!”
“Mama, it’s Daddy! Daddy’s in the tractor! I’m gonna ride the tractor, too!” No reason to correct her.
6) Moo-moos, brum-brums, and strange interpretations of snorting hogs (as farm baby tries to figure that sound out) constantly fill the air from the backseat...
…and it’s music to your ears. Sweet, sweet farm babies. Sigh. *Heart melts.*
5) “Do that, again, and you won’t get to ride in the tractor tonight!” is a legitimate threat.
As farm mommy, you know not to overuse that one, but always keep it up your sleeve in dire situations. Of course, it works every time.
4) Regular bedtime – what’s that?
Farm mamas see the routine-based mamas shaking their heads, and they may even feel guilty that first farm season with baby. Luckily, we find each other in the sisterhood of farm mamas, quickly realize we have support, and tough it out; because field suppers need to be supplied, farmers need to be picked up in one field and dropped in another, parts need to be delivered, and one more ride in the combine is allowed (as those memories are the stuff of life and bath time can wait… yes, sometimes until tomorrow since farm baby passed out on the way home).
3) You’ve removed, “stay out of the mud,” from your vocabulary.
What’s the point? Farm babies shall be farm babies. That’s why your farm mama taught you the proper manure removal process, after all.
2) You find yourself explaining certain facts of life sooner than you anticipated.
I find myself already planning how to manage the damage from our farm baby’s visit to the birthing mother cow, knowing our second farm baby arrives soon, and she’s sure to make the comparison. Thanks a lot for that one, farm dad, because you know she will remember. At least the situation’s not quite as bad as the time my dad allowed my inquisitive young cousin to be present for A.I. (artificial insemination) day at the farm. Moreover, what farm dad would deprive inquiring minds of all the correct terminology? “First you find the cervix…” isn’t a phrase most mamas quiet in the check-out line. Farm mama, you are special, indeed.
1) Photos like these bring tears to your eyes.
The unspoken love your farmer passes down to his kiddos, and the admiration they hold for their Super Dad, in return, blesses your soul and makes it all worth it. That’s not to say that farm mama doesn’t deserve a little recognition this Mother’s Day. However, she knows May falls smack-dab in the middle of busy season, and truly understands farm dad may not be able to make it extra special… but a thank you sure goes a long way.
Farm mamas are tough, hard-working problem solvers… with great compassion and gentle hands to care for the farm family and neighbors who fill their hearts. Who are the farm mamas you need to thank this Mother’s Day?