Farmers Wives & Farmerettes: Their Image

A conversation about farmers wives and our uses on twitter led to a discussion about ‘IMAGE’ for farmer’s wives/farmerettes. ?By the way, a ‘farmerette’ is a girl or woman who works on the land and is even mentioned in Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce. I know farmer is a non-gender specific term but I like ‘farmerette’.

Mini farmerette

Personally I think it is a shame if a farmer’s wife doesn’t get involved on the farm – partly so she knows what he is going on about and understands the stresses and the need for the long hours, partly because modern farming can be very isolating for the farmer and partly because it can be fun to be out working together. Let’s face it, if your husband is working 16 hours a day, you’re not going to see much of him unless you don the wellies and head out.

?And didn?t she up in sorgues and go and trot doon and stand in her douro, puffing her old dudheen, and every shirvant siligirl or wensum?farmerette?walking the pilend roads, Sawy,?

Finnegans Wake

Obviously some women have their own careers and their 9-5 work to commute to, not to mention if there are children to look after but I do think it is a shame if they are at home and their ‘area’ is the house and his is the farm.

My Calf Feeding Garb

My Calf Feeding Garb

Talking about ‘image’ on twitter made me laugh too, it followed a tweet I had said about my dad paying me a compliment as I carried 4 gallon buckets full with milk across the yard. ‘You’re a hardy girl’, he’d said! ?Obviously when you are feeding calves, you’re going to get mucky, the trouser waterproofs are going to stink of milk and muck and although I have 3 coats for the farm so I can get them washed in turn and they don’t get too manky, even one wear means that they do get somewhat smelly. ?Preparing for a ‘farmerette’ photoshoot last week with only a day’s notice and no time to go shopping, I did think to myself that the English image of a ‘farmerette’ would be nice fitting jeans, a pale check shirt and a tweed jacket. ?However, I don’t own a tweed jacket so I decided to opt for my green coat which would be bright for the paper and as it will soon become my farm coat anyway ….. as it’s getting a tad old and shabby. I didn’t even have pink or floral wellies to flaunt!

?She had one vanity, however — that of having her picture taken nearly every day in her?farmerette?clothes.?

Hidden Treasure

But what does an Irish farmerette look like?

I often do wonder how I should be representing myself in terms of my ‘sartorial elegance’ locally. I’m in the local post office almost on a daily basis because of the online shop. If it is on the way to or from a training, I’ll probably be in ‘business dress’. If I’m working from home, I’ll be wearing jeans and a sweater. If I am giving Brian a hand on the farm or on the way to the ?outfarm, I’ll be in jeans, old coat and wellies. ?I often think to myself that those who know me know I do get dressed up occasionally but what about those who are looking at me in my wellies and thinking to themselves ‘so, she’s a social media consultant is she?!’ ?Well, I don’t worry about them too often!

?So he’s still puzzling over what he regards as an anomaly, afarmerette?who knows the difference between De Bussey and a side-delivery horse-rake, a mother of three children who can ride a pinto and play a banjo, a clodhopper in petticoats who can talk about Ragusa and Toarmina and the summer races at Piping Rock.?

The Prairie Mother

I remember Elaine, the New Farmerette commenting on how she will wear a little make up on the farm but I put that down to the fact that she is meeting the general public with her riding school business too. I have to admit that if I’m not visiting clients or training, days and days could go by without me putting on any makeup and even then, I’d wear very little. ?My dear hairdresser knows that I always want a cut that needs little attention, a wash, a quick brush and then it is abandoned to do what it wants. Thank goodness though, I had gone to get it cut the week before the photoshoot especially when he told me it had been 13 weeks since I’d last had it cut – no wonder it was getting a bit out of control!

The Irish Country Magazine, on its launch last year, used images of red wellies beside red stilettos to show a modern farmer’s wife – the image being one who farmed during the day and went out on the tiles at night, one who was as home milking cows, driving tractors and lambing sheep and still had the style to dress fashionably in the evenings.

farmeretteIn another twitter chat yesterday, I and some other ‘farmerettes’ decided that we should have a ‘tweet/meet up’ and put faces to the avatars. Jokingly we said that perhaps there should be a ‘farmerette test’ to see if one is allowed join, an initiation test.

Here’s the list we came up with and how I’d do!

  • Carry two 4 gallon buckets of milk —— No problem
  • Assist at a Caesarean section ————Yes
  • Hold a womb while it’s being stitched —-Never had, but no prob
  • Drive a tractor ————————–Hmm, not if it has to be in a precise straight line as in spreading fertiliser
  • Reverse a trailer through a narrow gate —- I am spacially defunct and can barely reverse a car, wouldn’t be able to do this through a wide or narrow gateway!
  • Nail varnish not obligatory, welts on hands are —- Yes, welts on hands from carrying aforementioned buckets but only during calving season
  • Stop a gap ———————————-Yes, many years experience
  • Milk a cow, goat, sheep or mare ————2 of them
  • Understand and appreciate the many uses of twine —- for tying up dogs, holding up trousers, acting as firelighters etc
  • Carry a bag of feed on your shoulder ——-Depends on size of bag but yes!
  • Stack small bales on trailer while on a hill —- Years since I’ve done this but yes, I think I can remember!
  • Dose / Inject cattle ————————–Occasionally
  • Run fast after cattle ————————-I can run, not sure about the speed!

Okay, I think I pass!! ?Would you? ?Btw, feeding calves is sufficient to pass 😉

Mini Farmerette

If you would like to join us for our tweet/meet up, do leave a comment or send me a tweet or follow the hashtag #farmerettes. We have yet to decide on a venue or the date but will do soon. ?I’m intrigued as to what the conversation will be like, after all, we won’t have met each other before and our common interests are social media and farming. It should be interesting!

And I’d love to hear your opinion – what do you think regarding farmers’ wives? Is it important they help out on the farm and should they think about their image while doing so?

Oh, by the way, if you would like to read the article about me in ‘Horse and Countryside’ I’ve embedded it into this blog post (couldn’t embed it here as it’s not and it needed a plugin)

3 thoughts on “Farmers Wives & Farmerettes: Their Image

  • Pingback: Details of Farmerettes Meet Up | Irish Farmerette

  • Julie

    Great to raise profile of many supporting wives and daughters who support the main farm worker but I want to be known as farmer, shouldnt be gender specific, my husband works full time and helps out when he can so he must be farmerette

    • Lorna

      Hi Julie, you’re right ‘Farmer’ isn’t and shouldn’t be gender specific. For me ‘farmerette’ is a bit of fun as I’m a bit of a fair weather farmer and have a business to run too but in terms of your husband beingg a farmerette, I have to say that the ‘ette’ makes it sound feminine. I detest farmer’s wife as although it has connotations of working on the farm (everyone knows most farmers wives work as hard as their husbands) it doesn’t state it as such. Apparently ‘farmeress’ used to be used quite a bit.
      I guess your husband is a “farmer’s husband”. What does he like to be called – does he go by farmer or by his fulltime occupation?



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