It’s been 11 years and almost 3 months since I officially became a “farmer’s wife”.
To you that may mean just about nothing, but to me that means holy cow a lot has changed!!
I remember being asked if I was ready to not only take on the role of a farmer’s wife, but to do it as a second wife. At the time I had no idea what was being asked of me. I was sure I had my eyes wide open and was prepared for the future as Mrs. Steve Bloomfield.
Let’s just say that the last 11 years and 3 months has been an eye-opening, sometimes thrilling, sometimes scary, often times unexpected ride!
Steve and I met on a blind date in March 2006. We were set up by my best friend, whom met Steve through her place of employment. Life was good. Steve had been previously married with 2 young children, at that time, 2 & 6 years old. For a lot of people that would be a red flag, for me having divorced parents at a young age, with a stepmom who was/is a very present part of my life for the bulk of it, it didn’t cause me any concern at all. Steve was working hard at building his farm, a dream of his since he was a young boy. I had no idea what that would/did entail. Having spent a large part of my childhood living in a rental farmhouse on a working farm, I assumed I had it figured out. That paired with having a grandfather who was heavily involved in agriculture most of his life, made me feel like I had a strong sense of what it took to be a farmer. Oh the naivete!
I remember shortly after Steve and I met, I came out to the farm one day to visit after having finished my shift at the Grand Bend Fitness Centre (which was what I graduated from college in, Fitness & Health Promotion). I wish we had a phone with a camera right then….keep in mind this was 12 years ago. I arrived in my gym attire, cute black tights and matching top, cute pair of runners, not really what you would call “farming wear”, and hopped in the tractor to ride with Steve while he fixed fences in the pasture field. I climb in the tractor and begin talking, he makes a comment about me closing the door since I was sitting in the buddy seat, to which I crack a joke about enjoying the fresh air with it open, just as he is driving through a gate that the door happens to just graze and it shatters into a million pieces. The entire door was completely glass. Soooo not a great first impression as his Dad wanders over to check out the situation. One moment neither of us has ever forgotten, but one that has given us many, many laughs.
As I mentioned Steve and I met in March 2006. We got engaged July 1, 2007, and were married October 27, 2007. I remember the day we got married he was out in the yard at the farm working on a tractor in the morning. At the time I didn’t understand, but now I do. What farmer gets married in the fall, of all seasons?!? All I wanted was a beautiful fall wedding with the pretty colours. Steve did what he had to to make it all work, and in the end it poured rain all day anyway, so he was off the hook! Rain is something I have come to appreciate exponentially!
It didn’t take long for me to realize I was in over my head just a little. Taking on a man with two children, an ex-wife and a growing farm operation, was a lot! Is it something that I regret?? Absolutely not. Is it something that has challenged me to my core?? Absolutely! When I look back over the last short 11+ years, which at times have seemed like the longest of my life, I can’t believe how much I have learned.
I know the women who have been married to farmers for years, who are reading this are probably thinking “dear, you have a lot to learn”. I know they are right. I am excited to see where we go from here. Where God leads us in this life together.
Here are just a few of the things I have learned so far as a “Farmers Wife”;
Love the rain!!! Rain has become my very best friend. Rain makes our crops grow, without it there are no crops, there is no money to pay bills. Rain allows me time with my husband, at certain times of the year. Rain makes our farm beautiful. The flower beds, the green grass, the pastures that feed the animals we raise, the crops that grow big, strong and vibrant.
Patience! This one I am still learning. There are days I’m sure Steve wonders if I am ever going to master this one. I have to be patient with him during the busy seasons, patiently await the growth of the crops to pay the bills, patiently wait for animals to grow to service the store needs, be patient with the irregular routines, and sudden change in schedules.
Lack of Control. Farming is anything but controlled. We are at the mercy of the weather a lot. We can’t control how the crops grow, when the sun shines, when its time to harvest. We can’t control when the animals get pregnant, have their babies, lay their eggs. We can’t control when equipment breaks down or when rented land gets taken away. I can’t control when Steve has to “make hay when the sun shines”, even if it means going to events alone or simply missing them.
Book keeping. I have no formal training, or background in book keeping/accounting. It’s a learn as you go approach around here. I have become very resourceful, and good at making phone calls to get answers to questions. I have developed a great relationship with our accountant whom we talk about our families and farm struggles with regularly. I have learned a lot and continue to learn a lot about farming through the lens of Quickbooks, and all things book keeping!
House wife. One of the biggest lessons I learned at an excelerated rate was being the “mom” of the house. When you marry a man with children there really is no honeymoon phase. You step immediately into a role of “care giving”. So I learned on the fly how to manage a home, on a farm, with children, and a full time job. The kids were great, they warmed up to me right away and things ran smoothly when they would come to spend their time with us. It is a big change going from being single to being part of a family! I have loved the opportunity and blessing of making a house our home over the years.
Get good and comfy with debt! One of the biggest shockers when I assumed the book keeping role from Steve’s mother, Wendy, was the debt load. To a 25 year old, who did have school debt of her own, farm debt was intimidating. The constant turn over of equipment has gotten easier to handle, the mortgage payments for the farm have become the norm. Paying off farm debt is not likely something I will ever completely see in my lifetime, unless I have a millionaire relative somewhere who plans to write me into their will! haha
Get used to receiving directions by farm names. When asked to deliver something to a field, pick someone up from a field, etc directions are never given by using left and rights or road names typically. No, the directions are given by farm names. And usually those farm names are not the current owners names. So whenever we are out driving around, and Steve insists on giving me the rundown on the farm, who owned it, who operates it, what’s grown on it, etc I better be listening up!
Don’t ever mix up hay and straw. One of the biggest pet peeves of a farmer is when people call hay, straw, or vice versa. Just don’t do it….enough said!
Pray! Pray for rain, pray for the rain to stop, pray for the livestock, pray for the crops, pray for safety, pray for your family, pray for success, pray for lessons learned, pray for life!
One of my favourite shows on TV when I was growing up was Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. In fact I own all the seasons on DVD and still watch it today. I grew up wishing to live in that era. I just loved the idea of the family homestead, the love, the hard work that went into everyday life. In some ways I think I loved the simplicity of things, while it seemed to be tough living, it didn’t have the complexities of today. Now I realize I am comparing to a TV show but it was the idea that I loved I guess. I’m a bit of an old soul, I suppose that may be why I find myself married to someone a decade older then me. :)
But in all honesty I have loved the highs and lows of being married to a farmer, whom lives and breaths this lifestyle. I would not and could not ever ask him to walk away from it, it’s in his blood, and that means it needs to be in mine too. I have so much to learn. What I have really grown to love about this life is the continuous view of God’s glorious creation. I am constantly in awe as I watch the crops poke out of the ground, as I watch a calf being born, as I watch the farmer tend to and care for their animals as if their own lives depend on it….because they do. I love the constant change, the change of seasons, the change of pace, the change of scenery. I love to watch the growth all around me, and within me, the growth of our children, the growth of our dreams. And of course I love the view. The view every morning the sun rises, and every night that it sets. I couldn’t ask for it to be any other way.