What Does a Farmer Look Like?

I get lots of fan emails, which is fun. Usually people tell me what a particular book of mine meant to them, or how our lives intersect or run parallel in some way.  I love getting these emails, even those that make me stop and think a minute.

I received one of those the other day. The woman enjoyed my books, and was pleased to find my website and see what I looked like. Her comment, however, seems to indicate she was both pleased and stunned. Pleased because, as she wrote, “you look like the women I know.”  Stunned, perhaps, because after reading Hit by a Farm, she assumed I was a “tall, muscular woman.”

Melissa laughed ’til she choked at that one. I’ve always had muscles; they’re just very shy, and prefer to hide under a little flesh.  🙂  

But, hey, it’s true, I am tall.

When we started the farm, Melissa had a bad back, so I did most of the heavy lifting. I used the post pounder to slam metal fence posts into the ground. I did the hammering (when Melissa picks up a hammer with her right hand, her left hand gets very nervous.) I carried the bags of grain from the pickup to the barn.

Over the next few years, farm work actually strengthened Melissa’s back, and we eventually shared the heavy work.

But what does a female farmer look like? We look like the women you know. We are tall and short and rail thin and medium build and nicely curved. We farm with our husbands, wives, partners, or on our own. We clean up really well when we go into town, but if you were to drop by unexpectedly, you might find we haven’t showered for a day or two (or three!), and we’re wearing old, ratty clothing.

I’ve seen women farmers with Michelle Obama biceps. I’ve seen women with no visible biceps do plenty of heavy lifting.

The fastest growing category of farmers in the 2007 Census of Agriculture was women. And the more that people see women farmers as just like the ‘women I know,’ perhaps the more women farmers there will be.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with a little muscle on a woman farmer. Here’s me, just the other day:

Okay, not really.

12 thoughts on “What Does a Farmer Look Like?

  1. Ha! Love this post. 🙂 I am glad to know I’m not the only one who greets people by having not showered in…well, so many days…when they drop by unexpectedly. But then I guess most the people who “drop by” here would expect that. If not…oh well. 🙂

  2. Thank goodness we don’t have to look like that last picture! I’ve always been kind of repulsed by body builders.

    I will never be tall, and my muscles are definatly shy (love that description!), but I can out lift most of the guys I know, and even hurt I know that I am strong enough to get most everything done around the farm. Good thing, since there isn’t anyone here to help most of the time. Bad thing, at least according to my physical therapist (just had shoulder surgery 2 months ago, and not supposed to lift more than 2 pounds with that arm. Ha, like to beasties will cooperate with that!)

  3. Susan—only 2 pounds? That’s not much water, or grain!

    Patty—thanks! I have a number of books. Not sure how that happened, but I seem to have an actual list of them now!

    Sounds like I’m not the only one with shy muscles… Excellent… 🙂

  4. I just wanna go on record to say I think it was very brave of you to post your picture and let your shy muscles hang out there for everyone to see. ;o}

    When I was in college, a friend was trying to fix me up with a guy I was drooling over. The guy declined saying I was “too muscular and athletic looking.” Wish I could meet up with him today, nearly 50 years later. I’ll bet me and my still strong “farmer” muscles could whup his puny butt!

  5. hmmmm, nicely curved… I’ll second that! But we can still sling hay bales with the best of them!

    My friends have learned that it’s best to not insist on hugs if they just drop in at the farm unannounced… lol!

  6. Hi Catherine! I’ve just finished “Sheepish” and I love it. Laughed, crried, laughed until I cried. I’m sheepish in the fiber freak kind of way – I returned to knitting about six years ago after taking a break since high school.

    I love this post – I’m a harpist and when I show up for gigs, people sometimes don’t believe I’m a harpist, because I’m not small, blonde and willowy. I have dark hair and biceps that have scared away many a pesky groomsman at weddings! Strong muscles come in handy for hefting 100-pound harps (on 70-pound carts) up stairs and into vehicles.

    I look forward to reading more on your blog! – Amy

  7. Mama Pea, I’ll bet you could ‘whup his butt!’

    Amy–welcome. I love it–a harpist with biceps. Makes perfect sense.

    Maggie Mae…Yes, friends learn that when they arrive and I hold up my hands, it’s best not to force a hug. It’s for their own good. 🙂

  8. LOL!! You couldn’t pay me to look like that! I am not tall either, carry around a few extra pounds, but that’s me. Since women are the fastest growing segment of farming, then I say we get to set the trends 🙂

  9. Excellent point—we determine what women farmers look like, and they come in all shapes and sizes and colors and sexuality and financial situation and age and frequency of hot flashes. 🙂

Leave a Reply