In marriage we leave our parents and become one with our spouse. As women, we more often than not take their last names and join their families — especially so in the farming communities. In my case, I left behind a life in the city of Edmonton that I really loved, a job in the pediatric operating room that I still miss very much to this day, the friends I grew up with, the friends I made in university and at work, and most importantly my own family. Everything that was familiar to me I left behind to move three hours away to start our life on the farm where I really only knew his family and some of his friends. Our friends back in Edmonton all have kids who are our kids’ ages, and sometimes I long for what good friends they’d be if we still lived there.
One of the things I struggle with most as a farmwife and farm mom are the three months of the year during the busy times on our farm where I single-parent. It all starts with seeding in late April and May which trickles into a less intense, but still busy, spraying season in June; and from mid-August to at least the end of September for harvest. Most mornings my farmer sees the kids for breakfast before he runs out the door. He only sees them during the day if I take the boys out to the field for a visit/tractor ride and we see him probably 80 per cent of the time for supper and he’s never home to help at bedtime unless it rains. After a week or so it just becomes routine doing everything by myself, but I still miss having that support from my husband, especially as our kids get older and have school and sports to be taken to.
Nine years of marriage later and I’m still getting used to the fact that the weather rules the roost in our family. Farming is very time sensitive, and I respect that, so when the weather is nice or a storm is coming — the guys have to work. They just have to, even if it means missing a dinner with friends, a birthday party, helping out at home, or delaying our summer vacation for three weeks like we had to one year. Farmers can truly never commit to things unless the forecast allows them to. Then there’s the flip side of it all in seeing how hard my husband works all to have it taken away by the weather. He worked extra hard this spring and early summer and we didn’t have time to do day trips to the lake or to go on a short camping trip like we usually do, and half of our crops were wiped out in a 10-minute hailstorm.
I know there are many careers where husbands work out of town or overseas for weeks and months and years on end, and yes — I know to a certain extent what I signed up for marrying a grain farmer — but this is a reflection of my life and my story and how it affects me and only me. I am learning as I go and I’m trying to become more gracious and understanding as the years and farming seasons go by, because truthfully I didn’t know exactly what I signed up for when I married my farmer. How could I? I didn’t grow up on a farm or in a farming community and this truly didn’t dawn on me until a few years ago. I am sincerely very thankful for the life that I have and I know that we are blessed beyond measure to live this life that we do. Life as a farmer’s wife isn’t always easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sarah Schultz is a nurse who fell in love with and married a farmer. She’s embracing her role as farm wife and mom raising three boys on the family grain farm in Wheatland County, Alberta. She’s often seen with her camera in her hands and blogs about their life on her blog Nurse Loves Farmer.