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Behind every good farmer…

During harvest, no matter what I’m doing, if something breaks, I’m the “go-fer.”

Hi, Faye. Are your guys combining again? Just beans left? That’s good. We thought that rain would never end. Sure did a lot of harm to the grain and canola, but, hey, in comparison with the damage left by Hurricane Ike, we really have nothing to complain about, eh?

Did you see that article in the Co-operator about what a farmer is? What about us? Don’t we farm wives count, too? If that woman has been a farm wife herself for so many years, you’d think she’d know that behind every good farmer there’s a farm wife working on the farm or off the farm… or both! Right?

She really should explain what our lives are like. Of course, everyone who reads the Co-operator knows. She needs to tell the city folks, like I used to be.

When I met my handsome “aggie” at university, I knew zilch about farming, but how hard could it be? Right? Wrong! You at least spent summers at your grandparents’ farm, so you were way ahead of me. But I’ve learned a lot in the last 10 years.

I could write my own laundry soap commercials every week with the piles of DIRTY clothes that Dave sheds. Manure, grease, oil… why, I’ve seen him wipe a dipstick on his pant leg… and even stuff that I don’t want to identify. I’ve seen it all, I think.

I’ve learned to expect a grumpy husband during calving season when he gets no sleep, a silent husband when seeding is delayed, a growly husband when the baler breaks… and especially during harvest, if the forecast’s bad. Our lives depend on the weather. Sometimes I hate to turn on the TV.

Like you, Faye, I’ve learned to drive a grain truck, even a tractor in a pinch. I’m the designated driver of the riding mower and the garden tiller. During harvest, no matter what I’m doing, if something breaks, I’m the “go-fer.” And that led to a whole new vocabulary of machine parts and equipment. Those service guys don’t like it when you ask for a “thingamajig for the whatchamacallit on that big red whatever.”

Yes, money management WAS a hard lesson to learn. It’s useless to have a budget because you don’t have a regular paycheque at the end of the month, or even at the end of the year sometimes. And most of those government programs are useless. They’re more paperwork than they’re worth. Twice, we did get some money and then they asked for it back six months later! How would our city cousins like it if their employer did that to them?

But really, I’m not complaining… just letting off steam. I love the country now. It’s a great place to live and raise kids. I never tire of the view from my kitchen window at every season. Sunsets and that Prairie sky… and I’d never even seen Northern Lights in the city.

Farmers work hard, but they enjoy life, too, I have to admit. You can get away on a rainy day. Or take a long weekend without asking anyone else’s permission. Even quickly planned get-togethers are a lot of fun. Sporting events with the kids are a big part of our social life, too, but that’s OK.

We’ve got super neighbours, like you and Doug, who are ready to help any time, sometimes before we even ask. It sure wasn’t like that where I grew up. Hardly knew the people next door.

So I’m not leaving the farm or my farmer any time soon but,… oh my gosh, look at the time. Gotta go! If I don’t get supper ready for the field, he may be replacing me! Good luck with harvest, Faye. Pop in for coffee when this rush is over.

– Shirley Case writes from

Portage la Prairie, Manitoba

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