I hope some farmers won’t give others a bad name, like my darling husband did when in the chemist last week. Popping in to get painkillers and antibiotics after a trip to the dentist (remember how the gate smashed into his mouth and broke a tooth), he decided to get his Wellness for Him (or whatever they are called) tablets as I keep forgetting to get them. And just to prove that he thinks of me, or doing his best to ensure that I’m fit and healthy for the calving season, he decided to get me a packet of Wellness for Her.
“Can you giftwrap them?” he asked the sales lady.
“For Christmas, you can’t give her those for Christmas.”
“Well, she won’t get anything else”
“Well, you’ll have to get her something else, I’m not gift wrapping them”
Never fear, he was in a large gift shop on Sunday when visiting members of his family so bought me a surprise. It can be returned within 30 days if it turns out to be something I really don’t like and I have to admit I’m intrigued. I usually end up buying myself books from him which I’ll still do!
But what can farmers get their wives for Christmas or indeed, a happy year ahead, that shows they know them well, or are thinking of them, or might even be romantic?
- A promise (in writing!) of time away from the farm – be it a couple of nights out before and after the busiest time of the year or a holiday. We know it’s not easy to arrange time away; we know it’s hard leaving the livestock in the hands of someone else; we know that doing anything other than farming, even if only for a week, can be hard to fathom but a night out or a short break is so important.
- A promise to prepare – by this I mean putting preparation in before a task. For example, many tasks with livestock can be made much easier by setting up gates or marking cattle to be separated with the spray of a coloured dot.
- Maintenance days – It’s about recognising that while he may enjoy a maintenance day tinkering around with machinery, uninterrupted and enjoying his own company, sometimes she enjoys a different kind of maintenance day – at the spa, or shopping, or with a book.
- Patience – Appreciating that your helpers, if not familiar with the markings on the animals, may struggle to understand that “the white one” means the one with mostly white on her right flank even though the rest of her is a complete mixture of black and white, will mean you get smiles instead of scowls, endearments instead of insults and a nice supper instead of being left to forage for yourself.
- Farm Office – Having a farm office, even if it’s a corner somewhere in the house, is a good move. Not treating the kitchen table as an office and then wondering three weeks later where the scrap of paper with scribbled numbers has gone is a good move.
- Emptying pockets – A new year’s resolution to empty the pockets of farm trousers before they are tossed in the laundry basket (or the floor) for washing saves much gnashing of teeth when receipts and important scraps of paper are washed, not to mention if any nuts and bolts cause damage to the washing machine. It’s just that it can feel like you’re taking your life in your hands when sliding it into the depths of a farm trouser pocket wondering what might be there to bite (stab) you.
- Communicate re food – she’s probably familiar with you being ten or twenty minutes late for meals. She may even be relying on you being late as pots boil furiously on the hob but if anything above half an hour, send her a text. Yes, another new year’s resolution if you aren’t doing that already.
- Respond immediately – whether it’s because she’s beeping the car horn in the yard, texting you, or asking you a question, responding immediately earns brownie points.
- Show her you’re thinking of her – Okay, buying the “Wellness” tablets can’t really be described as romantic and yes, it could be argued Brian was ensuring I’m going to fit and healthy for the calving but he did think of me while getting some for himself. But if you are somewhere, and you see something that would be useful to her, or would make her job as a farmer easier, buy it. Romance isn’t always nights out, chocolates or flowers but making someone’s job and life that little bit easier and happier.
- Be nice – whenever she is able to treat herself to a lie-on, don’t say “it’s well for some” and wake her when you’re getting up early to milk. If you do wake her, it should be with a cup of tea and a slice of toast before you go out to milk.
So – print out these farmer new year resolutions and enclose it with your Christmas card and the gift you bought! She might just frame it to remind you!
And of course, buy her a copy of How To Be A Perfect Farm Wife for the Christmas stocking too.
Merry Christmas to you and yours. Lorna x