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What does ‘farmwife’ mean to me?

This can have different meanings for different people but it explains a huge part of my identity

Sarah Schultz is proud to be a farmwife and mother.

You could call me a bit of an old soul who passionately loves technology. I’m caught somewhere in the middle on the spectrum of ’50s housewife and millennial, if there is such a thing. I love being at home and being a housewife and mom. I also love practising as a registered nurse when I’m not at home on maternity leave. I take great pride in all of those titles, and I would, no matter where I lived. I call myself a wife, I call myself a mom and I call myself a homemaker. Since we live on the farm, I proudly wear the title of farmwife because it tells anyone who reads my short social media bios a huge part of my identity that I’m very proud of — wife to a farmer.

Some people, women and men alike, seem to view the term “farmwife” as (dare I go so far as to say) derogatory. I’ve come across the point argued that other wives don’t label themselves as “accountant’s wife,” “lawyer’s wife,” “plumber’s wife,” etc. You generally only see “farmwife” and “army wife” describing specific wifery genres, if you will. I agree, as brought up by a fellow farmwife when discussing this very topic, that we use the term because it’s not just our husband’s, the farmer’s, job. It’s a lifestyle that involves the whole family — dad, mom, kids and often extended family. There’s no punching in at 9 and punching out at 5; it’s a “job” that never ends.

I am very proud to be a farmwife. I can drive a tractor and operate the grain cart if need be, but for now I prefer to be somewhat of a stereotypical farmwife who stays at home with the kids and cooks and bakes for the harvest crew. I even wrote a whole blog post called “Am I a ‘Real’ Farm Wife Now?” because I’ve also come across the theory that to call yourself a farmwife means that you actually have to labour on the farm. Perhaps that’s where the problem lies: the stereotype of what many people view the farmer’s wife as. Many farmwives (of today and yesterday) are also farmers, and feel offended by the term. I personally don’t think that the term farmwife detracts from the term farmer, or now the newly coined term “farmHER,” to describe female farmers. You can make of the term whatever you want it to be and it shouldn’t take away from anyone else’s definition.

I have a generational love of farmers’ wives. My grandma, who passed away, was a registered nurse who married a farmer. Nurses marrying farmers is in our blood, and my mother-in-law is also a nurse who married a farmer. When I was a little girl I wanted to be a nurse just like my grandma; she was my hero and my role model. I didn’t have “marry a farmer” on my to-do list, of course, but when I met my husband-to-be and found out that he was a farmer, I was thrilled. I was a small-town-turned-city girl, and it never once crossed my mind in a negative way that I would have to leave life in the city to move to the farm. I kept my career as a nurse and loved working between our two rural hospitals. I made new friends and finally got to work in the emergency room (the department I’ve wanted to work in since I was a student), where I met lots of other nurses who married farmers. We all took time off during the seeding and harvest seasons to be around to help at the farm and be home for our kids.

The term “farmwife” is whatever you want it to be. I’m not offended by anyone else’s definition, so I hope that no one is offended by mine. Sure, my husband doesn’t call himself a “nurse husband,” nor do I expect him to. But for the purposes of explaining to people a big part of who I am, a simple word will do: farmwife.

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