Yes, Virginia, farming is hard work (but it is so worth it!)


This week, we wrap up our eight-week series on women in agriculture. We’ve profiled farm women, ag researchers, industry and association leaders, and educators. These eight women are just a sliver of the picture women paint within agriculture.

The focus on women certainly doesn’t mean we feel men aren’t doing equally as noteworthy things. They are, and many of those men also go unnoticed or aren’t acknowledged for their contributions.

But it’s hard to ignore that production agriculture is still predominantly a man’s world.

Read all of our “You Go, Girl” profiles.

There’s room for both, and those of us established in agriculture should be doing our utmost to encourage all generations behind us — regardless of gender — to follow our footsteps. To keep agriculture alive.

I hear parallel criticism in both of my fields, agriculture and journalism. “You can’t make a living doing that anymore.” “You can never take a vacation or day off.” or “Why would I want to work so hard for so little pay?”

Because it’s what we do. Agriculture matters. It’s our DNA, our passion, our world.

It is hard, no doubt about it. Farming is often 24/7/365. It’s physically demanding, financially draining, and mentally exhausting. It’s dirty, smelly, aggravating and frustrating.

“I don’t know any jobs in agriculture that are only 40 hours a week,” said OSU Extension field specialist Dianne Shoemaker when I interviewed her for our series.

But agriculture is also fun, flexible, invigorating and rewarding.

It’s tough to have to put down a cow despite your best efforts to keep her alive. It’s tough to watch a hailstorm shred a field of waist-high corn. It’s tough to keep coaxing life out of old equipment.

But it’s also a true peace to lean on the fence post and watch the cows or sheep out on pasture. It’s rejuvenating to start the cropping season anew each spring, and walk through the fields once the plants start to grow. It’s worth it to look around you and see the results of conservation practices that are saving soil and water and air. You did that.

We adapt, we change, we try, we fail, we succeed, we learn. Along the way, our farm paths will cross some of the most inspiring people, and, without knowing it, they will renew our zeal for agriculture.

You may be such a person for someone else — for someone just getting started, or even a veteran who needs a jump start to get back in the groove. We farm individually, but we are fed collectively.

Some of you may have heard me say, “I wish I was 21 again.” And that’s not because I’m feeling my age, but because I’m excited for all that lies ahead in agriculture (and journalism). I want to do it all over again.

So here’s to the women in agriculture, and to the men in agriculture, and to all those who want to join our ranks.

There’s room, if you’re willing to work.

More women in ag stories:


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  1. There is a reason why you can’t keep them down on the farm. Farming is hard work. City folk dream about the seeming low stress life of a farmer, but that is not the reality. City folk can raise a vegetable garden or a few chickens. Even that would be a challenge for most of these dreamers.


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