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.