I wrote an article recently for Farmers Weekly and am republishing some of it here. What really amused me and surprised me somewhat was that many readers thought I really wanted to put them back into the 1950s housewife role, they didn’t grasp the tongue in cheek humour. It might, of course, have been due to the book cover and illustrations not being visible although Farmers Weekly used some fun images with it. You can see some of the comment on their Facebook update. I was delighted to see it got over 200 likes and 250 shares.
10 Ways To Show You Are A Perfect Farm Wife
Marrying a farmer means you also marry the farm, his family and everything that goes with that. Even if you were brought up on a farm, if you are moving to a different part of the country or to a different type of farming, there are plenty of adjustments to make when you marry a farmer. There’s also the neighbours who will be wondering how you shape up and of course, your mother-in-law just might be expecting you to look after her son extremely well. There will be some things you’ll be naturally good at, and some where you just might have to, ahem, cheat a little in order to impress all around you.
- How To Win Prizes
A perfect farm wife should be able to prove her capabilities at the local agricultural show and win a couple of prizes. It’s not as easy as it looks so do your homework beforehand to maximise your chances of success. Scout around the year before and see if there are any baking, craft or flower arranging classes with only a few entries. No one need know that there were only three entries and the worst is you’ll be placed third. Once you’ve decided on which classes to enter, join your local WI group to perfect your skills.
- Turning Back Runaway Cattle, or Sheep or Pigs
It’s a universal truth that no matter how fast you run, the runaway animal will run faster than you. If you jog, it will trot. If you trot, it will canter. If you run as fast as you can, it will gallop. Apart from needing a belt on your trousers, a sports bra, plenty of patience and good wellies, sometimes extra preparation can make all the difference.
Buy him a good working dog for his birthday, engagement or wedding gift. It will be the best present you ever bought yourself him. It will save a lot of angst, puffing and shouting.
- Finding The Right Field
Most, if not all, of the fields will have names. You will realise the importance of this if you ever receive instructions like ‘Bring dinner to us in the field which is to the right of the third field over from the yard, that’s the one with lots of gorse in the hedge’. Learn the field names that apply to size first e.g. The Big Field or the Long Meadow and then to those named for something in or beside the field e.g. The Buttercup Field, Church Field, the Quarry Field, Heathery Hill or the Letterbox.
- Your Signature Dish
To earn full respect in the community, you must have a ‘signature bake’ to bring along to all parish, school and community events. It must look impressive and be considered delicious by all adults and children. No one else should bake the same type of dish if you want yours to stand out and indeed, everyone will know you are there when they spot your signature bake on the table. Mine signature bake is a biscuit cake (recipe is in the book). What is yours?
- Forge His Signature (allegedly)
There are many times when the farmer’s signature is required on various forms and he’s in the furthest field. It makes life much easier if you learn to (allegedly) forge his signature. I’d recommend he changes his signature to a squiggle once you get married.
If you mention this to any friends, you’ll find non farming people are horrified but all the farming families nod in agreement.
- Understanding His Instructions
There are plenty of times when you’re working together and you can’t really hear him. Does he mean that you stop this black heifer or that one? Are you supposed to reverse or go forward? Which gate are you expected to close? The dog manages on a couple of instructions such as ‘go bye’, ‘away’ and ‘sit’. I’m not suggesting you bark at each other but learning a few hand signals will help to prevent those arms being flung up in the air which signify it has gone past the point of no return.
- Being Gracious
Farmers aren’t exactly renowned for being lavish with compliments. Therefore, you have to learn to spot them so you feel appreciated. Examples may include:
“If you were a beef heifer, I’d be doing well” – He doesn’t mind that you’ve put on a bit of weight.
“That was a grand dinner” – It’s nearly as good as my mother’s.
“That cake is nearly as good as my mother’s” – It’s good enough to enter in any agricultural show
A perfect farm wife accepts compliments graciously, and if in doubt, presumes any comment is a compliment.
- An Adept Recycler
A farmer rarely throws anything away and a perfect farm wife is skilled in recycling. If a welly has a hole, don’t throw it away but use it for a welly wall by attaching the holey welly to a wall, making a few more holes for drainage and fill with soil before planting flowers or herbs. The more colourful the wellies, the more attractive the wall.
Finding uses for baler twine will also mark you out as a perfect farm wife. Use them as a temporary belt, to mend a halter, secure a broken fence, act as a lead for the dog, tie the navel cord of a newborn calf if it is bleeding, tie the tops of bags of meal, tie gates, twist to make firelighters …
- Getting on with your mother-in-law
Unless your mother-in-law is delighted to have married her son off and is looking forward to grandchildren, you may have to work hard to earn her approval. It’s a fine line between cooking and baking dishes that are good enough to win prizes but yet not quite as good as hers. Never ever compete with her or use the same recipe for a home-baked cake at a community event – just in case someone compliments yours within her hearing.
- A Weather Girl
Yes, being a perfect farm wife means knowing exactly what the weather is going to do especially when his PST (Pre Silage Tension) and PHS (Pre Harvest Stress) have set in. Your ability to get clothes dry outside also indicates your abilities. Never ever should the same clothes be left on the line to dry, get wet, dry, get wet and dry again.
And yes, as it’s the ninth day in our 12 Days of Christmas giveaways, here is today’s prize. The farmer and his best friend sneak into the kitchen with muddy wellies and mucky paws (and the cat is contemplating it too) when the farm wife appears brandishing the mop. And who looks in the kitchen window at the moment but his mother, to see him being threatened by his unappreciative wife! A perfect gift for someone who just got engaged to a farmer or is marrying one and they can be customised too.
To win this kitchen towel (also available for purchase at Zazzle), tell me how often you wash your kitchen floor – tell me in a comment here, on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and I’ll draw a name at random on Sunday 13th. I can’t promise the towel will arrive in time for Christmas but it should do.
And if you’re looking for other accessories with farming illustrations for Christmas gifts, do check out the other items in my Zazzle shop.
Update: Winner is Jessica Connell