Being a farmer’s wife means that you have half a dozen roles really. If you have children, you’re likely to effectively be a single parent for part of the year. You’re likely to be mistress of lots of farming jobs, to also be a cook, taxi-service, collector of spare parts, deliverer of dinners, negotiator, book-keeper, midwife, tractor driver, stopper in a gap, livestock breeder, milker of cows, feeder of calves, restorer of life to lambs and half a dozen other things.
For some reason, people expect perfection in a farm wife – be it from the mother-in-law, the neighbours, other farmers …. they all expect a farm wife to be a wholly capable woman who can multi-task with abandon and achieve half a dozen things at the same time. ?As we inherited from my parents, I have my mum living nearby and I tell myself that she only has herself to blame for bringing me up to be so rubbish at domestic stuff. Most of these tips are from her and I use them occasionally!
If you sometimes feel that those plates are spinning high in the air and are in danger of crashing in a circle around your feet, here’s a few tips to help you pretend you’re a perfect farm wife! I’m afraid I haven’t included any on how to be a sexy farmer’s wife so if you have any to share, please do.
1. Know the Many Uses of Vinegar
Vinegar has so so many uses from getting rid of limescale on taps and showerheads to cleaning windows. I put vinegar into the washing water when washing windows and apparently it makes them shine so I reckon it saves me some elbow grease. You can use it on a shower screen too and it will help get rid of the limescale stains. There’s lots more uses too but that’s enough for me for the time being. Another way, of course, is to get a windowcleaner to do your windows!
2. Baby Oil
We have a slate hearth and fireplace and nothing brings up the shine like baby oil. I just give it a good scrub occasionally ie about every two months and rub it with kitchen paper and baby oil. It looks so good that I always tell myself I should do it more often.
3. Signature Dish
Every woman in a small community needs a signature dish, something she can bring along to a community event that everyone loves and yet is really easy to make. You must, of course, guard the recipe like a state secret because the last thing you want to happen, is that someone gets the recipe and makes it too. Mine is biscuit cake – I can make it in about 15 minutes and it stores really well in the freezer. But ssshhhh, don’t tell anyone it is so quick to make.
4. Pewter rather than Silver
Don’t even consider buying silver candlesticks or anything silver! Go for bronze or pewter instead. Do you know why? When exposed to air, silver tarnishes and will need regular polishing. Pewter and bronze will actually lose some of their patination if you polish them so just give them a quick dust. Saves lots of time!
5. Adding Value
Whatever kind of farming you do, you can really show off if you make something from the farm produce. For example, if you’re dairy farmers, make your own butter, cheese or clotted cream. You don’t have to make it for sale, just enough for your family consumption and to bring as a gift when visiting others will suffice to impress. If you make your own bread from grinding your own wheat, that is seriously impressive.
6. Many Uses of Newspaper
Other people may just recycle their newspapers but you know how to make use of them for advantages. Scrunched up newspapers are perfect for drying freshly washed windows. I’m not sure how it works but the newsprint dries them with a shine and leaves them smear-free. I also scrunch up newspaper pages tight and use them as firelighters.
7. Grow Your Own
Any self-respecting wife has to produce something of use from her garden! I’ve given up on ?most vegetables and am sticking to things that are hardy and easy to grow. I don’t weed often enough either but I have the strawberries sorted for this year. We dug the raised bed over and used an old carpet (carpet pattern side down!) to cover the soil, cutting out small circles and re-planting a strawberry plant in each hole. The carpet should eventually die away (great way to recycle too) but in the meantime, it should keep weeds down too. I’m looking forward to a good crop of strawberries this year.
8. Make Jam
Growing your own fruit leads on nicely to making your own jam. You can’t serve bought jam with your freshly baked scones to your mother-in-law! Impress them with your homemade jam made from your own garden fruit. Using jam sugar makes the process almost fail-proof I promise!
9. Bicarbonate of Soda
Every farm wife needs to know the many uses of bicarbonate of soda and always have some in the cupboard. Apart from being a handy cleaning agent (often used with vinegar and/or lemon juice, it can be used to treat a calf affected by bloat.
10. Perfect Chocolate Mousse
I had never tasted Angel Delight, I was always a bit sceptical of how something so powdery and in a packet could transform into a yummy dessert so I was intrigued when a lady told me she fooled family (including her mother-in-law) for years with her Angel Delight Chocolate Mousse as they thought she had slaved over a hot stove for hours whereas in reality, it had taken her minutes. I did try it. I have to admit I wasn’t keen on the taste at all but hey, it worked for her.
If you have any tips that have worked for you, do share. I’ve a lot to learn before I finish writing this book! ‘How To Be A Perfect Farm Wife’ will be out in September, all going well!