Summering for a farm wife
Farm and ranch wives do all sorts of jobs — being employed in town or staying at home — it’s all work. Gals who stay at home range from working outside all day to being around “just in case.” I fall into the latter and my work-at-home job is writing — columns, books and articles — as a freelancer. My five books were published by a traditional publisher, which means I did the writing and they used their funds to publish it. The other writing fills the gaps.
Although I very rarely drive a tractor, summer is an entirely different scenario than the rest of the year. I am wrapped up with farm duties. My mantra? Be flexible! Be ready on a moment’s notice to go for parts — often including a drive of 240 miles round trip — or help someone move vehicles from field to field.
It’s all about being at home and available. Often I get a cell phone call to bring breakfast, or coffee or lunch to the field. Usually about the time I get in the groove of writing something in particular is when I get the call. That is just summer. I tell people my time is not my own during this hectic farming season. When I’m in town during a busy farm season it is generally with the thought of getting what I need quickly and returning home.
Every day, every drive to a field or pasture is different. Last week it was the ducks swimming in the stock dam as I helped the guys move from an alfalfa hay field to a grass hay field in a pasture. There was the morning I went to pull a few weeds from my flowerbed and there — stock still — stood a bunny rabbit, so common in our yard. Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement and soon realized it was a tiny baby bunny. I never saw him again so either he grew up or he became hawk food. On one of my trips to the field, just before full darkness set in, as I sped by on the four-wheeler I saw a fox running through my neighbor’s yard. He seemed smaller than usual so he was likely a kit. If you’ve ever heard a fox talk you understand how eerie the voice sounds. (You can Google fox sounds and hear it.) The first time we had one sitting not 15 feet from the door in our yard and he made his noise, I thought for sure an animal had a leg caught in something. But he just sat there and yapped. I stuck a tape recorder up to the door and captured the sound. Creepy!
With a diversified life like this there is never a dull moment. Plans are often waylaid so it’s best not to get too wrapped up in anything major. Those bigger projects can wait until winter.
Peggy writes from the family farm in southwestern South Dakota. ❖