Am I a Farmer’s wife or am I a Lady Farmer? That is the question. To be honest it’s not a question that I have given any consideration to since moving to Diamond Forest Farm Stay. I was previously a Manager and before that a Sales Assistant but here, on the farm, I never thought to assign myself a job title. As co-owner of Diamond Forest Farm Stay, with my husband, I would describe myself as a business owner or self-employed. However, the other day something happened that made me think a bit more on the subject.
Mark returned from checking in a family of four with two young girls who had both enquired ‘Where’s the Lady Farmer?’ My husband was lost for words as at that particular moment I was in bed with a pinched nerve in my neck, which he didn’t really feel was a helpful answer to give to two young girls. I think he answered ‘In the kitchen’ which he, in hindsight, thought might not have been the best answer either. But it got me thinking…Am I a farmer’s wife or am I a farmer?
While technically I am a farmer’s wife, as I am married to a farmer, but my role definitely comprises much more than those word’s imply; more than keeping the farm-house clean and cooking in the farm-house kitchen. I play an equally large role in this farm as my husband does and a good deal of it is, indeed, farming. In the public sphere there has certainly been a shift, too, in recognising that there are many woman working on farms, as farmers, and not just in the traditionally accepted role of farmer’s wife. There are also many young girls out there excited to see, just as our two young guests were, women in farming roles.
There are many jobs on this farm that I could not accomplish on my own, but the same can also be said for my husband. We run this farm as a team with jobs divided equally between us and many jobs we actually accomplish together. We both clean cottages, greet guests, do paperwork and devise marketing strategies. Equally we both feed animals, load and unload hay, drench animals, herd animals, trim hooves, administer medication when necessary and work towards a successful breeding program for our animals.
So I am a farmer in my own right and there are many women getting into farming in many diverse roles, proving to be very successful with innovative ideas and a drive to succeed in what is stereotypically considered a male dominated profession. After doing some research on the subject I’ve also learned that there have been many women who have been in the agricultural industry for years but had become ‘invisible farmers’ as their contribution to farming had not been recognised. Did you know in Australia women produce at least 49% of real farm income and yet, right up until the 1970s some agricultural colleges excluded women? I have to be honest I was a bit gobsmacked by that information.
The 1980s-1990s saw the emergence of the Australian Rural Women’s Movement which supported women in farming roles and advocated for change so that women might be recognised as farmers in their own right. In 1994 the Australian Law Reform Commission reviewed farm women’s legal status and finally defined them as ‘Farmers’ instead of ‘Domestics’ or ‘Farmer’s Wives’. So here I was thinking that the term farmer’s wife was somewhat old-fashioned and out of date, legally women have only been recognised as farmers since 1994!
So while I am happily married to a farmer, and therefore am a farmer’s wife, I am also quite comfortable with my role as a farmer. So, to the two young ladies wanting to know where the lady farmer was – I’m glad you asked because it really has made me look at the term so much more closely and think about my contribution to Diamond Forest Farm Stay over the years. And I plan to be a farmer here for many more years to come as an example to young girls that farming is not just a career choice for boys. Girls can be farmers too!