Saturday, September 27, 2008

What A Farm Wife Dreads

If farm wives from across the world were to gather in a central location and compare their experiences, I am sure they would find that their lives are in many ways the same.

They would probably have similar stories of stocking up on groceries, cleaning grease and manure on jeans, and shopping for clothes at farm supply stores.

They would also agree that there are some phrases that a farmer says to his wife that she dreads hearing.

“Oh, look! Here’s an auction sale bill!”
Auction sales are risky due to two factors. First, they place a group of males in a competitive environment, and no one likes to lose. Secondly, they offer a variety of items that sometimes sell for such low prices that a farmer can convince himself that he actually needs them. That’s why he will come home with a box of junk that will sit in his own shop until he accumulates so much that he will have to have an auction of his own.

“You got a minute?”
This question is dangerous because by affirming that she has a minute, the farm wife is actually committing to up to three hours of tackling an unpleasant task.

“Did you make something good for lunch?”
In my farmer’s language, this question means that he has invited someone else to eat. That someone is standing right next to him, and he is using a code to tell me to put away the peanut butter jar and whip up something else in the five minutes it will take them to arrive at the back door.

“Do you know how much money I just saved us?”
Much like the preferred card savings at the chain grocery store, this question is a ruse to disguise how much money he just spent.

“Are you busy?"
Farmers are blessed with selective vision that allows them to see past the baby on her hip, the boiling pot on the stove, the dish towel in her hand, and the toddler behind her who is emptying the soup cans out of the cupboard.

“Where is last year’s calf contract?”
The answer to this question could be “in the calf sales file in the file cabinet,” or it could be “I don’t know because you took it out last month and stashed it in your calving record book and then took it out to the barn.” One thing is certain: last year’s calf contract is always in the last place that you look.

“I need your help.”
This statement elicits dread because the situation must be bad for him to admit he needs help. The word “need” differentiates this request from the questions like “Are you busy?” and “You got a minute?” I have found that he only “needs” help when it’s a very hard calf pull, a piece of machinery stuck very badly, or a crop insurance policy that needs deciphered.

“Just lift me up in the tractor bucket.”
It is unfair to put a farm wife at the controls of a mechanism which could drop her beloved 20 feet to the ground with one wrong pull of the lever.

“How much money is in the checking account?”
Another unfair situation that a farm wife faces is choosing to either lie about the account balance or realize that by telling the truth, she has just given her blessing for him to buy another piece of machinery.

“Help me back this trailer in.”
One of the unofficial roles of a farm wife is trailer backer upper. She must position herself in the view of the rearview mirror while the farmer follows her hand signals to precisely place the trailer in the position in which he wants it parked. She ascertains that information after three attempts at parking the trailer which all end with his dissatisfaction. Only when she threatens to begin using a different hand signal altogether will he decide that the trailer is probably okay where it is.

“Don’t let her through the gate!”
This urgent command is always yelled across the corral as the farm wife faces down a mad cow with plenty of momentum who is headed in her direction. She can either choose the wrath of the cow or the wrath of the farmer. She usually chooses the wrath of the farmer because he has to forgive her before supper.


Nicky said...

Hi, Yep, these terms are universal, my husband isn't a farmer but a self employed carpenter, I get them all the time, especially the cheque book one. I grew up on a property in Central Queensland, Australia and i heard these remarks all the time. In fact the remark regarding the trailer backing in brings back memories of my mum and dad doing just that, it was a good time to make yourself scarce.

The W.O.W. factor said...

Boy Erin, you've got them down pat!
I dread 3 the most..
“You got a minute?”
“Are you busy?"
“I need your help.”
These show where our life really their beckon call :)
This one ... “Don’t let her through the gate!”..yep, they want their supper and to not sleep in the dog house!
Great post!

threecollie said...

This is a great post!!! Any farm wife would understand every single one of these instantly. I am going to link to you if you don't mind because I have friends here on the east coast that will get a good laugh...thanks!

Suz said...

Erin-Thanks for the grins this morning.
Have you ever had the pleasure of hearing Ron Hanson speak? You really must see him if you ever have the chance.

Jenni said...

Yup, as Nicky said, farmer husbands sound about like any other type of husband, just with a few different things like calf contracts thrown in. Other husbands just have different paperwork to locate. I'm a construction wife, too. Fortunately, my husband works with his dad and sometimes his cousin and he has taught our boys to operate the tractor and back up trailers. I try to keep from thinking or saying, "Don't kill your father" as the head out to do something. In fact, I try to keep from knowing what they're doing at all in order to preserve my sanity. There is no way I'm getting in the tractor and lifting him in the bucket. I'd rather be in the bucket. And I really, really hate being in the bucket!

Anonymous said...

Great post; worth the wait! ;o)
I get the, "you got a minute?" all the time - and we're in Retail!! Blessings, Whitney

Jenny said...

Oh my word, how true!!!! Especially the dinner part. And the wife working machinery part. And got a minute part. LOL

Jen said...

As everyone else I can relate to and have heard them all more then once. I'd have to differ with you on "Don't let her through the gate" I'd choose the wrath of the cow over the wrath of my hubby ANY day! That and I'd much rather be in the bucket then running the bucket...and my hubby who is terrified of heights agrees LOL.

insanelybusymomma said...

LOL, so true! I really hate that "Do you got a minute one?" myself. Never fails it's not only a job I despise, but one that will eat up the majority of my day.

Oh well, I knew what I was getting into with a farmer/rancher man when I signed up for this gig.

Mum-me said...

As many have already said, most of these are not confined to farming life. I think I've heard all of them, in varying forms, except "Lift me up in the tractor bucket." I don't have an equivalent to that! Oh, and "Don't let her through the gate" is one I've not heard since our huge pet dog went to the golden kennel in the sky.

Dawn said...

We suburban housewives have similar dreaded phrases... just different "topics." However, a few of yours actually scare me more than some of the ones I hear!

Breezey375 said...

Trust me farm daughters know them too! And deliberately pick a degree program that will take them light years from ever hearing them again! (hopefully)

Windyridge said...

Found your blog via Northview. The photo of your daughter wearing the bonnet through the grass is lovely!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I've heard them all. The first time I heard the last one was when we first got cattle. The vet was there, it was the foggiest night EVER and the cow had given birth to one dead twin and had the other stuck. I had the misfortune of running the gate. This was before we had pens in the barn for birthing. Well, she had her head down, snot flying and I let her out. I had both the vet and hubby yelling, stop her!! Ummm, I'm sorry, but she's shaking her head at me and I do not weigh over 1500# so I'm letting her go. Whew. It's amazing how we live through these things on the farm.

Haf Dozen Reasons....... said...

I recognize them all. I absolutely dread when Hubs goes to an auction. Thankfully he does it very very seldom.
The one I dreaded the most was the last one. There was no way I was standing in the way of a new mommy bent on getting back with its baby calf. I always told Hubs the mother in me just couldnt do it!!! LOL Tho I did try my best tho really!!!

Now I just know whats coming when my older boys in college call and ask if I'm busy. They always need something picked up or called for them. Their father trained them well, huh?

Anonymous said...

Those are great and all to true!

Plowing and Sowing said...

This is funny. I had to hurry up and raise my daughters in order to get the quality help I needed. My wonderful wife was tickled to pass the responsibilty to our daughters and son. I trust my kids more when I am up in the bucket and my wife likes it that way. I think she gets busy in the house when things get a little crazy.

Bush Belles said...

Hello from Australia. These all sound so familiar and nice to know all over the world farmers wives have the same deal. I am a mother of 4 on a farm and love your blog, I can empathise with everything you write.

Annette Piper said...

Oh yes, heard all of those and more.... definitely universal ;)

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