Peggy Sanders: Living the ranch wife life |

Peggy Sanders: Living the ranch wife life

In any business with partners, each one has different skill sets.

When you read about two brothers in a large farm enterprise, usually, one is in charge of crops, and the one does livestock or some such configuration. It is pretty much the same for husbands and wives who are farm partners.

Some women are out on the machinery or in the midst of working cattle; others of us are what I’d call traditional. We are the support system. We help make the daily life on the farm flow smoothly. Our busiest time of year is summer.

This week I received an email from a former big city friend who now lives in a mid-sized South Dakota town. She asked, “What are you doing to keep busy this summer?”

“There are two basic things to know: No day is the same and the needs of the farm supersede all other activities.”

She and I have talked about summer on the farm, but of course she doesn’t understand. So for those who live the life, as well as those who wish they did, here’s a little overview of summer for husband and wife partners on the farm.

There are two basic things to know: No day is the same and the needs of the farm supersede all other activities. As partners we know these are facts, not adversities.

The day-to-day changes are reliant on factors such as weather, like if it rained so much overnight that the farmer can’t get into the field. Sometimes the rainfall is just enough to stop the fieldwork, but not enough moisture is accumulated to soak in to the soil.

It is preferred that hay not be rained on once it is cut. It can negatively affect the hay quality and it doesn’t store as well. Wet hay, when compressed or baled, can mold or even spontaneously combust.

When the farmer gets up in the morning, the weather, over which he has no control, often dictates his jobs for the day, and by extension, it dictates mine, in the summer especially.

When a day starts out with fine weather the farmer goes to the field to cut hay. The wife takes him breakfast.

As the morning progresses the hay that was cut two days ago is deemed ready to be turned over by a hay rake, and the farmer starts that. The wife takes him coffee.

In another hour or two, the hay that was just raked is ready to bale. Once the farmer starts, he does not quit until every stem that is ready, is put into bales. That means he will not go home for his dinner and the wife will bring the meal to him.

She has a meeting at 2 p.m., so she runs home to change. The farmer calls and says he needs parts from 120 miles away. She changes back into her jeans and takes off.

As she drives the wife thinks, “Maybe tomorrow I can start my laundry/plant my flowers/mow the lawn/bake cookies; all of which she could have accomplished after the meeting had she not gone for parts.

This was just yesterday. Who knows about tomorrow. ❖


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