Lady farmers

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It’s the time of year again when we celebrate the contributions of women to agriculture. 

Recent stats show more than 55 percent of all farming operations in the U.S. have at least one critical female decision maker or operator. That number, according to the USDA, has risen since 2012. 

I know many fantastic lady farmers and ranchers. They are as capable as their male counterparts when it comes to handling livestock, driving anything they climb into, making repairs or building something from scratch, and they are pretty business savvy. I envy a few of them for their operations and abilities. 

Ladies, you also don’t have to be the “top hand,” which you likely are, at your family’s farm or ranch to be a critical element of the operation. You might not be as hands-on on your farm as some other ladies, but how many trips have you made a trip to town for parts? How many meals have you prepared? How many loads of clothes and kids have you washed? How about the “Hey, I need you to…” phone calls? The men in your lives might not realize it, but ladies, you are a true partner and a decision maker in the operation of your farm or ranch.

Women, in my opinion, are a little more nurturing when it comes to getting a sick animal baby back on its feet. Not to say that men aren’t good at it, but there’s something about a woman’s touch and determination to save them all. I think that’s why I currently have four cats, Nell the Wonder Dog, an old stray dog who comes and goes that we’ve named Buddy. It’s a menagerie at our place sometimes, but I can’t let anything go hungry, so that’s why the population seems to fluctuate. The Momma Cat showed up last year and blessed us with five kittens, three of which I found homes for, is the best mouser we have ever had, and likes to leave them at the back door or on the sidewalk as proof she is pulling her own weight, so she has a forever home. I guess the “Boys,” the two kittens we kept do too. Bill said I have got my crazy cat lady starter pack, but I catch him scratching them on the head as he goes out to the shop. 

As I write this, I can’t help but think of a few young women I have known since they were little girls. They are their mommas’ daughters, with a little of their dads mixed in, but mostly their moms. They are tough ladies with tremendous grit and capable of doing anything they set their minds to, just like their moms. They are also kind and considerate and would do anything for their families and friends, just like their mommas. They are doing things their way, and I’m so proud to know them. Strong women raise strong daughters.

In my family, we are boy poor with just two, but we have lots of girls, nine to be exact. My nieces and great-nieces are all farm kiddos. They too are a lot like their mommas, with a little of their dads thrown in. Some have a little more sass than others and all have their own personalities, and I love them all the same. Some of the girls have their own cattle, and we have at least one horse girl. They also know more about agriculture than some of their peers. 

As they grow, I hope the younger girls never forget their raisin’ and continue to love life on the farm. I hope they never doubt themselves and their abilities, on or off the farm. I hope they, too, grow to be strong women who raise strong daughters. just like their mommas and grandmas. And maybe even have a hit of their Aunt Julie. 

Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected]

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