My good friend and occasional source of good information, Vicki Patschke from Lubbock, recently e-mailed me a long list of symptoms that might indicate someone could be the wife of a farmer.
The list is way too long to include all the indicators, but, as a responsible journalist dedicated to providing useful information, I feel obliged to pass along some of them in an effort to inform the public. Some of you, after all, may be at risk and not even know it.
For instance, you may be a farmer's wife if:
You call the implement dealer and he recognizes your voice.
The vet's number is on the speed dial of your phone.
Your second vehicle is still a pickup.
Your husband has ever used field equipment to maintain your lawn.
A night out involves the local 4-H club.
You've ever washed the kids or the dishes with a pressure washer.
Picking rock is considered a chance to get out of the house.
Taking lunch to the field is as close as you get to a picnic.
You can mend a pair of pants and the fence that ripped them.
The shopping list in your purse includes the sizes of filters, tires, overalls, chains, belts, lights, cables, spark plugs or shotgun shells.
You ever went on a date to the rodeo.
The directions to your house include the words miles, silos, last, or gravel road.
Lacey or Frilly is a farm animal but not your nightgown.
Being taken out to dinner has ever included a talk by a seed corn dealer.
Your farm equipment has the latest global positioning technology and you still can't find your husband.
You plan your vacations around farm shows.
Eva Gabor is on your list of Most Admired Persons.
Quality time with your hubby means you'll have a flashlight in one hand and a wrench in the other.
Sharing a cab has nothing to do with a taxi and everything to do with getting across the field.
And let me add a few observations not included on this list. You might be a farmer's wife if:
No one, not even a stranger or farm editor, leaves your house without eating something.
You're equally adept at helping with your children's math homework or the complicated spreadsheets that detail every item bought, sold or misplaced on the farm for the past 10 years.
You have the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon, the tenacity of a bulldog, and the good nature of Mother Teresa.
You can deliver a calf, drive a combine, cook dinner for a half-dozen hired hands and still make time to pick the kids up from soccer practice.
You're equally at home at a PTA meeting or in session with a commodity association committee.
I've met a lot of farm wives over the past 25 years, and I never cease to be amazed at their abilities. I consider many of them to be good friends. And I have a standing invitation from several to drop in for dinner “when I'm in the neighborhood.”
The trouble with one of these “you may be a…if” lists is that it tends to stereotype people and a farm wife is anything but stereotypical. Many are as actively involved in the production aspects of farming as their husbands. Some specialize in business management and handle all the bookkeeping. Some work in town to supplement farm income or to get benefits. Some are professionals, doctors, nurses, attorneys. I know one who is commissioner of agriculture. And a few, like Ava Gabor, would prefer to be in New York.
But most of the ones I know are special women, committed to their families and their farms and devoted to what has to be one of the most unique partnerships in the country.