Women are naturals at farming

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A girl at sunrise.

“The most obvious and promising sign of the new agriculture is the leadership that women are taking in the unrevolution. Women have always played the key role in farming, of course, but they have seldom been given credit for it publicly or historically.”

— Gene Logsdon, Letter to a Young Farmer: How to Live Richly Without Wealth on the New Garden Farm.

One thing I have long admired about the writing of the late Gene Logsdon is his ability to hit the nail on the head, never holding back, always aiming for truth without fear of offending his reader.

His respect for women has always made me want to read more.

He describes “the most unheralded heroines of agriculture” as the women who would much rather be farming but who take an off-farm job to secure insurance and a steady income, “without which their husbands could not afford to farm.”

After putting in an often long and stressful day in an off-farm job, there is another full-shift of farm work ahead of them.

Dairy

Most memorable of all farm families which I was lucky enough to meet over the years of agricultural writing involved a son and daughter both approaching adulthood.

The parents, both equally involved in the progressive and successful dairy farm, told me there was no doubt their daughter had proven to be the farmer of the future.

This was roughly 20 years ago. As I sub-consciously prepared to hear them say, “but…” I was pleasantly surprised to hear that their son was being encouraged to find his path off the farm.

“They are both great, hard-working kids, and no doubt will be successful no matter what they pursue. We were simply able to see that our daughter is the farmer, and our farm isn’t large enough to support three families,” the patriarch of the family said.

Passion

Their daughter not only had the interest, she maintained a day-to-day calm with the cows along with passion about the dairy herd and a plan for its growth.

That, along with just the right touch and a good eye for foundation heifers and calves, sealed the positive decision for this family. Writing about this family at that time gave me great encouragement for our evolving world at large.

All these years later, that story stands strong in my memory because it was so rare and wonderful, which is a shame.

Women are naturals

It’s sad to think how many young women were shut out of a family farm operation over an entire century (and then some) based solely on the fact they checked the female box in paperwork processing.

Over the years, though far too slow in coming, women have been increasingly recognized for operating successful farms and ag-businesses.

Logsdon, who has praised women as “stars of farming” for their intelligence, stamina, natural savvy and comfort in marketing, writes, “Finally, women have, in my experience, more patience than men, and patience is more vital in farming than it ever was, especially when dealing with government regulators.”

Can we get an “Amen” to that statement? I’m willing to bet on it!

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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