Above photo by Elisha Clarke of some of our cute cattle.
This is a subject that from time to time plays on my mind and I know as I write it I will possibly have a hit put on me for not standing by my fellow females. I was born and raised on a farm and from a very early age I was never made feel I couldn’t do anything on the farm I wanted to do, I was never told I should stay inside or that a farm wasn’t really a place for a girl/woman. I went everywhere with my dad from sheep sales to shows and never did I feel I was somewhere I shouldn’t have been. As I got older more and more responsibility was given to me and I was left at times to deal with vets or cattle dealers and what I said to them stood and I was always backed by my Dad. I grew up knowing that I was equal to any man if I so chose to do a certain job from driving a tractor to lambing ewes and all the men I dealt with treated me the same.
I now live with a house of men and I still feel I am treated as an equal, I am not given any special treatment because I am female and am expected to muck in when needed as is everyone else. I am treated with the same respect as the men in the house by anyone who visits and if I happen to meet someone who is old school, and they are a few I make sure they get a little education about women on a farm before I am done with them. Now this is where I think other females are falling down and they are just feeding into the old views of females on farms, I don’t think they are helping change age old views of females on farms. The other day I saw a post on Facebook about men complaining about why do women get cheaper car insurance than men and why have they got their own company who only insure women? this person asked was this not defeating the whole drive for women to be equal? that having groups that were just for females was keeping them isolated , which I am in total agreement with.
I think in farming this isn’t any different ( sorry women ) it is great to have groups where women can meet and socialise, this I agree with but I think to be seen as an equal we need to just mix with the men to be honest, why do we need to meet as a group to talk about what we do for farming or how we are not treated equal at home/ in our community when we should actually be getting out there and going on the same farm walks as the men, going to the same conferences as the men and to local discussion groups so to be honest we become part of the furniture and no one looks twice at us.
There is an old saying in the farming community that women are only good for stopping a gap, taking down tag numbers or doing the paperwork and that is not going to change unless we show just how important those little jobs are to the running of the farm. If we didn’t stop a gap when we are asked the stock would not go where they were supposed to so our input is just as important as the person herding the stock from behind, it’s pretty hard to read tag numbers and write them down at the same time and I am sure no one wants to do paperwork after a long day outside so if we can do it then that frees up time for other jobs, so it’s time for us to show that all those tiny jobs, the ones that have been a laugh over the years are just as important to the running of the farm and should not be a joke and going to all female group meetings is not going to change how we are treated and I am pretty sure if the male farming community started their own men only groups their would be up roar.
I feel as a female in farming us women are our own worst enemy, we love to complain about not being treated equal but to be honest we don’t do much about it and I don’t think female only groups will change how we are seen but will only serve to keep us separate. The best way to change how we are treated is to start at home with your own farmer/ farmers and then start to work outside of that and eventually you will be treated no different to anyone else. We are the only people who can change how we are treated and being involved is the only way to do that, if it’s from keeping the house running, bills paid and a clean supply of work clothes to stopping gaps or milking or tag reading each is just as important to how everything else runs and a progressive farm is going to be the one where it works as a team.
So where are you going to start ?
Can you believe it’s the first day of October ? The leaves are slowly starting to change colour and there is a chill in the air. This is the time of year that we all start to fall back into the winter routines that the farm has. I have had a little holiday from the farm over the last month or so because there haven’t been any jobs that I could really help out with , a lot of the jobs were all machinery related and living in a house of men you would have to queue up to get a drive on a machine.
This time of the year the jobs I can help with become more and more and this week our first calves arrived of this winter and spring season. Calves are just so cute when they are small and it’s been early morning starts to help feed them and again help at evening feed time. For me rearing the calves gives you a closer connection to all the animals on the farm , you care for them from between a few days or a few weeks old , you mind them when they are sick , they make you laugh as they play and you try your best to keep them all happy and healthy. So as they grow you have more of an interest in them when they are bigger and not at all cute really and they also don’t smell very nice. I know I am a farmer and probably shouldn’t say that but cattle really don’t smell good ! Horses smell so good , sheep are OK to even cows smell a little better but bulls just stink.
We also start to do a little bit more with the sheep again before the rams go in to start their working season which won’t be that long now. Even though at times , when you fall out of bed at 6am , get your wellies and coat on and head outside to get slapped in the face with cold rain a farm really is a great place to be.
Where else do you get to spend everyday with your kids working and having fun ? You get to care for animals and care for your patch of the world , you get to see all the seasons come and go and not just from behind an office window.
So while I am sure over the next few months I will be here at some stage complaining about how tired I am and how I don’t have enough hours in my day I wouldn’t change doing what I do.
There was a time I spent nearly all my time here , seven days a week for a few hours or all day . Myself and the farmer and Sid would do sheep , cattle , feed , walk the farm and make lots of plans about what we would do with the farm over the coming years . Then after three years of farming full time with the farmer , through the long hours , crap conditions , not being set up it all changed . I went back Montessori teaching two and a half years ago and back to college now slowly but surely I am being needed less and less as the farmer gets better set up to do all the work on his own . A lot of the time now we make plans for sheep or cattle to be done when I get home from work and then when I get home the farmer has it already done and I am not needed its like when I went back to college and work life on the farm went on without me and now that I have time again I am not needed . While it is amazing to see just how farm we have come and just how much the farm has grown and improved it is hard to not be needed on it anymore . I might get to the farm once a week now and then its only to have a look at the stock or see what improvements have happened . Today was one of those days , after lunch was over myself and Sid headed to the farm .
Today these guys came in for the winter, after the rain for the last few days the fields have now gotten to wet for them to be out so they were the firsts ones in today . These boys are the heaviest of the stock we have at the minute that’s why they are in first and they are also the first stock to use the new shed system we have this year . These boys are just a year old nearly and they will be with us for nearly another year .
The boys are also in with the girls at the minute , while most of the older ewes are nearly finished with the rams we hope the boy above is in with the ewe lambs and they are only starting their work . This will be their first time to be mothers and we try to have them lambing a little later than the ewes so we have a little break in between lambing groups . These boys have a little longer at grass because they are younger and lighter than the boys that are gone in today . These boys wont be a year old for another couple of months .
I enjoyed being on the farm this afternoon and it is a shame that our life doesn’t let me spend more time on the farm , I am so proud of all the improvements we have made and that the farmer can get jobs done with out me but I do wish I was needed more .
Have you ever felt like this ? Proud of the achievements but wish you could do more ? let me know if you have .
I love a day on the farm , I miss it a lot but with two grown little farmers there isn’t always work for me on the farm anymore . So when a day like this comes up I love it . For anyone who might not know we live on a sheep and beef farm , sheep I love a close second after horses the beef I am not as fond of .
Today was a sheep day and the girls above were in to have their very big lambs weaned today . They would be free women again for a few months . Lambs are weaned every year from their mothers to give their mothers a chance to rest and relax .
When we had all the sheep in there were set jobs that needed to be done to the girls and some of the lambs to keep them as healthy as possible and in good form . For some of the jobs an individual lamb needed to be held so I was used as a human crush gate to hold them in place , horse riding for years gives you legs of steel .
One of the jobs we did on the girls was pair their feet , a little like a sheep pedicure 🙂 . This keeps their feet in good condition and helps to stop them getting sore feet which will make them pretty miserable .
Any day on the farm would not be complete without the boss himself , the littlest farmer .
Here he is trying to shoot lamb chops that’s the ewe in the picture above but she was having none of it and walked off on him . Then he had to get the spray paint for us and anything else we needed he really is just a little farmer .
When all the sheep were sorted , ewes all moved to lovely new green grass and lambs moved to their new big lamb field the farmer gave some of the cattle fresh grass .
It was a good day on the farm , lots of work done, not a loud word said ( that can happen a lot on a farm) and good weather . Looking forward already to my next farm day .
Elaine x .