NAPOLEON, Ohio – DarIa Huddle’s beautician doesn’t know if her customer will make it to her next hair appointment.
That 10 a.m. appointment happens to be at the end of April, which is better known in the Huddle household as carrot season.
“What are my chances of getting my hair done that day? Maybe good if the weather’s bad,” Huddle laughs. “My beautician is well aware that there’s always a chance I may call up and cancel.”
Huddle sits in the office of her family’s grain and carrot farm, wearing a Polo shirt tucked neatly into jeans and sporting a new hair-do and freshly polished berry-colored nails. This is her territory. Downstairs in the shop, with the drone of power equipment, is the men’s territory.
Plenty to do. Outside her office, she sees her husband, her son and her father-in-law busy getting the equipment ready for planting. Inside her office, she sees her own work: bills to pay, parts to pick up, payroll to finish, phone calls to return.
Although she’s at work and has plenty to do, she also thinks about home: the groceries that need purchased, the dirty clothes that need washed, the grass that needs mowed, the dinner that isn’t going to cook itself.
Despite all the chores calling her, she stays at the office, sometimes even after her family has gone home for the night, because the farm and her family come first.
It’s all a matter of priority and if the lawn isn’t always mowed, it isn’t that big of a deal, she says.
It’s simply the life of a farm wife, she says happily.
Decisions, duties. Although Huddle admits she isn’t the decision maker at H&H Farms in Napoleon, Ohio, her duties are almost as vast as the more than 2,000 acres they farm. Depending on the season, Huddle picks up seed corn from storage, hauls fuel, mows and disks carrots, makes appointments, answers the phone, drives people to and from the fields and does the banking.
Oh, and in between, she hurries home to make the guys lunch every afternoon.
‘Pair of hands.’ Despite all her duties, Huddle calls herself “just a second pair of hands.” Everything she does is just to save her family time, she says.
Huddle, however, doesn’t give herself enough credit.
“It wouldn’t run without her,” insists her husband John. But Huddle again downplays her hard work and the compliment with a bright smile and contagious laugh and says, “He better say that if he wants to eat.”
Despite her humble words in the office, Huddle’s true nature shines during a tour of the operation.
As she goes from barn to barn, spouting off detailed information, her pride is obvious. And so is her farming knowledge.
When the buildings were built, the changes through the years, how the carrot harvester works, the 14,000 tons of carrots that can be stored in the 33-degree building, how tunnels circulate the cold air from the bottom and exhaust the hot air. All of this from the woman who refers to herself as merely a second pair of hands.
And even all this isn’t enough for Huddle, who wishes she was stronger so she could lift heavy equipment, a better mechanic so she could communicate easier when she picks up parts, and better at backing up equipment.
Fortunate. Despite juggling mind-boggling hours of house work, yard work, field work and office work, Huddle has no complaints.
Instead she feels fortunate that her life took the course it did. Fortunate that she met her husband at the county fair. Fortunate that they celebrated their 30th anniversary last Monday. Fortunate that when she got married, she “got a new job: farm wife partner.”
Fortunate that she was with her children while they grew up instead of working outside the home. Fortunate she can bring her grandson to the office whenever she wants. Fortunate she sees her family every day. All because she’s a “farmer’s wife.”
And instead of feeling burned out after years of hard work and many more looming in the future, she feels more invigorated than ever, especially after losing 50 pounds last year to celebrate her 50th birthday.
“I work for the best people: my husband, father-in-law and son,” she says with satisfaction.
(Reporter Kristy Hebert welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 23, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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