Reflections on my first year as a farm wife

One year has passed since I said “I do” and married a farmer. It feels like only yesterday I was in a wedding dress dancing under an Oklahoma sky with my newly-minted husband. I am happy to report that it has been a terrific year full of notable milestones, such as receiving our first mail with the titles Mr. and Mrs., celebrating our first holidays as a married couple and the big test—making it through the first wheat harvest together. This year has been full of love, joy and happiness, but with any transition of this magnitude, I have also had to adapt to a new way of living.

Most women have to get acclimated to washing and folding twice as much laundry after they get married. However, with farmers it’s about four times the amount of laundry and the clothes are often caked with dirt, oil and grease, and wreak of manure or chemicals. Additionally, I’d advise any new farm wife to check the pockets of every pair of jeans before they start a wash cycle. I’ve washed many wheat tickets, trail camera memory cards and hardware this year. Another helpful hint for any new farmer’s wives is to be strategic when you ask for something you want. I’ve learned the best time to make a request is right after a much-needed, soaking rain and if I’m afraid of the answer, I wait until I’ve fed him a home-cooked, hearty meal. Food and moisture always seem to soften a farmer’s heart.

I’d have to say one of the most challenging aspects for any new farm wife has got to be learning all the names of fields and places for any given family farm. Every family has nicknames they use to tell them apart and those names have been ingrained in their minds for years, but for new wives, remembering the names and where the places are is tough—especially if they didn’t grow up in the area. After a year I still need to consult the farm map my mother-in-law gave me when I was delivering harvest meals to the field. Furthermore, I sometimes wonder what I would do without Google Maps and if my husband wasn’t able to drop a pin and send me an exact location with GPS directions. There’s a good chance I would end up in another county if I was trying to find him in the middle of the night without a pin.

For those who don’t know, a farming family’s social life is centered around harvest, planting, spraying, fertilizing, feeding livestock and the weather and the actual yearly calendar is just a suggestion. For most households, Halloween is the time to trick or treat or snuggle up and watch a scary movie together, but for us it’s the perfect time to plant wheat under a full moon. Similarly, people who work in production agriculture don’t take a vacation or time off regularly, but these trips are treasured so much more because they are rare—making the memories incredibly special and dear to my heart.

It’s no secret farm wives make sacrifices all the time. We can’t expect our husbands to drive up at 5:30 every evening after work, and unfortunately, they can’t be by our side at every special event, wedding or party—particularly in June, that is unless it rains. This lifestyle is not for everyone. I knew that before I got married and our first year of matrimony has cemented this statement as fact. However, I’ve found the transition of becoming a farmer’s spouse is actually quite simple as long as your love for your partner means more than what must be given up to live this lifestyle.

This year was difficult for all farmers and ranchers due to dry conditions, high input prices and crazy markets. But even after a year of intense drought like we’re experiencing now, farmers will continue to cultivate the land and the same goes for marriage—we’re in it for the long haul through the good times and the bad.

Lacey Vilhauer can be reached at 620-227-1871 or [email protected].