Farm Women Blogs

Several weeks ago I tagged along with an aunt-in-law and two cousins-in-law to a Women Managing the Farm conference. We enjoyed keynote presentations on the inspiring history of Kansas farm women and how to engage the culture-wide conversation on GMO's and other hot topics in ag in a way that diffuses conflict rather than escalates it. Other highlights included breakout sessions on cattle handling techniques that use less muscle, vision-planning for the farm, and marketing to millennial consumers.

The conference gave me an unexpected treat in connecting me with four amazing women who farm in Kansas and are telling their stories through blogs. I'm loving their content, and I think you will too. Won't you check them out?

Willow Springs Farm

Hannah is a first-generation farmer who produces quality grass-fed beef from her cattle operation near the Flint Hills.


Tales of A Kansas Farm Mom

Nicole shares about everything from farming with kids to recipes to a feature I particularly enjoy called "Flat Aggie."


Farming Grace Daily

Julie's honest and encouraging voice is refreshing as she weaves together farm life, faith, and everything in between.


Chef Alli's Farm Fresh Kitchen

Alli is on a mission to help people understand where their food comes from, and her recipes are both delicious and practical.


Let me know what you think of my new friends, and happy reading!


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On Sweet Potatoes and Humility

Sometimes the smallest things produce the biggest results. My new role of farm wife is teaching me just that!—in more ways than one...

One day last spring my farmer husband of less than a year asked me to pick up twelve sweet potato plants at the local garden center while I was in town. He’d cultivated the garden and was ready to plant them, visions of delicious sweet potato fries, casseroles, and pies dancing in his head.

Eager to please and eager to prove myself as a capable farmer’s wife despite my suburban upbringing, I headed to the garden center. I asked a worker who was watering flowers to point me to the sweet potato plants, to which she inquired, “Sweet potato vines?” “Sure,” I said, feeling a twinge of doubt concerning that word vines but quickly pushing it aside, not wanting to appear as though I didn’t know what I was doing. She directed me to a display covered in lovely pale green and purple leaves. I selected twelve of the best-looking plants, filled a large tray with the small plastic pots, purchased them, and drove to the farm.

When I walked up to the front porch of the farmhouse carrying my flat full of plants, I encountered my father-in-law. The twinkle in his eye and wry smile that spread across his face as he glanced at my armload instantly alerted me to the fact that I’d made a mistake. I recalled my earlier doubt at the garden center, blushed, and said, “I bought the wrong thing, didn’t I?” Ever the diplomat, he simply shrugged his shoulders and allowed my sister-in-law, who’d happened upon the scene, to take over the conversation. “Oh, well!”, she said, having mercy on me. “If you’d never seen them before, you’d have no way of knowing which plants to get.” This gracious response to my blunder helped me to catalog this experience in my mind as one of humility instead of humiliation. My husband responded similarly but sent me right back to the garden center to remedy my error.

The ten-minute drive into town gave me time to ponder this new life of mine and the fact that it felt hopeful and beautiful, yet at the same time foreign and awkward. My previous two jobs had required me to be skilled in performance—one focused on musical performance and one public speaking—so confidence had been a key factor in my success. I was beginning to suspect, however, that it would not primarily be confidence that made me flourish in my role of farm wife—in fact, overconfidence had gotten me into trouble!—but rather humility. I'd need a willingness to admit that there was much I didn't know and a teachable spirit to learn from my husband and others who would help me become acquainted with the unfamiliar yet rewarding ways of farm life.

When I arrived back at the garden center, the teenage boy working the cash register was fortunately uninterested in my embarrassment. He mechanically exchanged my $20 worth of sweet potato vines for $3 of sweet potato plants. To my surprise the twelve plants were tiny, each about six-inches long and together forming a bundle no bigger around than a nickel! I felt silly carrying this flimsy little cluster wrapped in a wet paper towel back to my car when just moments earlier I'd emerged from it with arms full; anyone observing the transaction would be sure to know I wasn't from around here. When I returned to the farm, I helped my husband plant the itty-bitties, again surprised because he’d made twelve mounds of dirt that were very large—much larger than the plants I held in my hand could ever warrant, I thought. But I’d learned my lesson, so I kept these doubts to myself.

Several months later it was time to harvest our sweet potatoes. My husband dug the potatoes while I put them into empty seed sacks. The first sack filled up quickly, and soon we had filled a second…Then a third! By the time we’d harvested all of the sweet potatoes, we had a crop of over 200 pounds! I couldn’t believe that the twelve wimpy-looking plants over which I'd agonized had yielded such an abundance. Our bumper crop even included a huge state fair-worthy sweet potato that weighed 11.2 pounds!

For me that sweet potato harvest was metaphorical. In the same way that the tiny plants produced a large harvest, my small, inconspicuous decision to approach my new farm life with humility has begun to produce big results as well. Through asking a million questions, letting others show me the way, and getting my hands dirty I've learned my way around this way of living a bit more and become more comfortable in my own skin here too. I know my lessons are just beginning, but they are not without their delightful rewards--like the perfectly crisp grilled sweet potato wedges we ate for dinner tonight!

What about you? What small thing can you cultivate now that might produce a big result later?

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Grace for the Rookie Farm Wife

Last week I shared with you “Confessions of a Rookie Farm Wife,” a list of admissions related to how I’m carrying out my role as newbie farm woman extraordinaire. That list was a humorous by-product of a pre-existing list, one which is no laughing matter. I call it “The Farm Wife’s List of Shoulds:”

1.  As a farm wife I should cook/bake everything from scratch.

2.  As a farm wife I should become a master seamstress.

3.  As a farm wife I should have as many children as possible…and homeschool them.

4.  As a farm wife I should work hard sun up to sun down, refusing silly distractions such as making myself a cappuccino or chatting with the cows.

This is only a sampling of items on that sobering list, and guess what? I have other roles as well—blogger, administrative assistant, daughter, minister to college students, and friend, to name a few—and each of these roles has its own list of shoulds. I won’t name all of these shoulds for you because this article would reach lengths not even my mom would read. You’ve got your own set of roles, each with its own list of shoulds.

Where do these shoulds come from? Some come from societal expectation, some from individual people, and many from our own selves. No matter the source, these shoulds are based on a faulty assumption that we can do and be everything, and they create an ever-present sense of shame because—newsflash—we cannot do and be everything.

Jesus has a list of shoulds for the farm wife; would you like to hear it?

1.  Love God.

2.  Love people.

This isn’t an excerpt of His list; it’s complete. Two items. That’s it! And His list is the same for the politician, accountant, pastor, and stay-at-home mom: love God, and love people.

When Jesus walked on earth, He dealt with a group of experts in religious law whose list of shoulds exceeded 600 items—that’s even longer than my list! Do you know what He told them? If they would simply love God and love people, all the other shoulds would take care of themselves. (See Matthew 22:34-40.) The same is true for us. Loving God and loving people are not single-step concrete tasks but rather a framework by which to measure other decisions. If this is sounding complicated, stick with me! I can’t wait for you to see the freedom this brings.

Let’s use a classic farm wife task for a case study: frying chicken. Oooh, I love fried chicken! I could eat some right now, never mind that it’s 9:30am. Is making fried chicken loving? As a devoted consumer of fried chicken and granddaughter of an expert chicken fryer, let me say a resounding yes! I know my family members would agree that the delicious food Grandma served was a tangible expression of her deep love for us. When we show love to other people, we are showing love to God (1 John), so I’d say frying chicken passes the test.

But you know what else is loving? Ordering pizza. Grabbing a couple of two-liters and inviting a few friends over for a movie night. Within the framework of loving God and loving people, there is so much grace. Jesus has given me the freedom to decide if I’d like to fry chicken or order pizza. To become a seamstress or continue to rely on my trusty iron-on patches. To homeschool my children or make an informed decision to send them to a traditional school.

This grace isn’t just for the rookie farm wife; it’s also for you, the nurse, engineer, and teacher. There’s freedom to choose any number of paths as long as you love God and love people. This isn’t easy, but it is simple. And, by the way, it requires a relationship with Jesus to carry out, an ongoing dependence on His strength and guidance. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather rely on Him than try to do everything and be everything.

So do your thing. Release your shoulds. Love God, and love people. Fry chicken. Or order pizza. But if you decide to make fried chicken, call me.

What are your shoulds? How can you walk in the freedom of loving God and loving people today?

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Confessions of a Rookie Farm Wife

They say confession is good for the soul. I’m a rookie farm wife, and I need to do some confessing:

1.  The only “clutch” I have known is the type of small handbag sans straps I occasionally carry to parties. My tractor driving lessons have sought to introduce me to another “clutch,” in the same grouping as brake and accelerator, but the concept is still lost on me. Am I supposed to be stopping or going? I have no idea.

2.  I try really hard to be flexible because I know that farming activities can change from moment to moment based on weather, equipment, or any number of variables. However, when called on to be flexible, my gut reaction is to be cranky because my heart’s desire is to know and stick to The Plan. At minimum I’d like to know the following: How long are we going to be there? Should I wear long underwear? Will there be snacks?

3.  I buy jelly, jam, applesauce, and tomato sauce at the grocery store. The most effort I expend in the preparation of these items involves a rubber jar lid gripper and some unladylike grunting.

4.  Husband, I do not understand how any one person can have so many relatives. Mind blown.

5.  I have never pushed a mower, believing paying twenty bucks to a high school kid to be a fantastic alternative to doing it myself. But I will mow all day long on this fancy schmancy riding lawnmower, especially if these pale arms can soak up some sun.

6.  Husband, when I go for a summertime harvest ride in the combine with you, I make sure all the AC vents are pointed your way because you’re working so hard!...but secretly I harbor a smidge of resentment because I am sweaty and fighting off a deep nap.

7.  These trusty Tony Lama boots have seen country concerts, a rodeo, my wedding, and a few evenings of two-stepping but not one solitary day of work.

8.  I sew buttons, and that is all I sew.

9.  Picking green beans, tomatoes, and other vegetables is a test of my bug stamina. I put on my big girl pants when it comes to grasshoppers and even garden spiders, but when a huge bee swarms around my head, I do a quick, stealthy glance to make sure no one’s watching…and then I run away.

10.  Sometimes I just need to take a selfie with a hay bale/chicken/giant zucchini, okay?

11.  I wish cows were more like golden retrievers. Though their mammoth tongues like to lick, they just stare at me when I talk to them and don’t seem particularly interested in letting me pet them. It's rather disheartening.

12.  Husband, I think that I deserve some kind of award for remembering the names of your 50 first cousins. My mastery leaves no room for you to ever falter regarding the identification of any of my three cousins. Don’t even get me started on your second cousins. I just can’t even.

13.  Bringing a Vera Bradley thermos of cappuccino into the tractor in winter may seem like a luxury to the outside observer, but for me it is a necessity, a lifeline for warmth, alertness, and contentedness.

14.  I mow over the spider webs in the grass near the house no fewer than three times because did you hear about that infestation in St. Louis? I’m still having nightmares.

15.  I receive a great deal of amusement at the expense of the hogs by scaring them out of their peaceful state and watching them run around in a frenzy and then stop and stare at me, perfectly still until I scare them again, and they run around…

16.  For patching jeans? Iron on, baby!

17.  Fields of wheat, corn, soybeans, alfalfa—they all look the same to me! Milo schmilo! (Admittedly my Roadside Crop Identification 101 class with Farmer Husband has helped a great deal in this regard.)

18.  The bread that I feed my family comes not from my own humble pan but rather an ostentatious plastic bag.

19.  Husband, I find it rather unfair that at any moment you can put the combine in park and hop down to discreetly relieve yourself while I must wait till we’ve driven a full round and unloaded grain, walk to the road, and drive to the farmhouse, then repeat the process in reverse to return to my post, meaning your potty break takes 30 seconds and mine 30 minutes.

20.  I’m a bit green when it comes to this farm wife thing, but this is a beautiful life, and I’m thankful that it’s mine.

Come back next week to read "Grace for the Rookie Farm Wife;” subscribe to my email newsletter, and you’ll be the first to read this and every post!

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