On the Farm
How to spot the telltale signs your sweetie spends life in the fields.
She loves her farmer and all his quirks.
I’m from Iowa, but I didn’t grow up on a farm. I rarely set foot on a farm until I fell in love with a farmer. Adapting to life with my farmer was like moving to a foreign country. It required not only language lessons, but also adjustments to rural living.
Here are a few lessons learned:
He calls lunch dinner, and dinner supper.
In these parts, “dinner” means lunch. Once I was invited for ham balls for dinner and marked 5 p.m. on my calendar. At noon, I got a call asking where I was. My farmer calls lunch “dinner,” too. And yet when he says, “Do you want to have pork chops for dinner?” I respond, “You mean supper, right?”
He doesn’t use white towels.
He says he’ll get them dirty. I’ve weeded out his threadbare towels and replaced them with white ones and, as a compromise, a few in taupe. He still uses the taupe ones.
He uses pumice instead of soap.
Most people keep bar or liquid soap by their sink. His soap comes in a big orange plastic bottle emblazoned with the words
“Pumice Hand Cleaner.” Even with this industrial-strength scrub, the lines in his hands remain stained.
He uses super glue instead of Band-Aids.
I was puzzled when I saw tubes of super glue in his medicine cabinet. I finally asked him about them. Forget Band-Aids. My farmer’s solution for skin cuts, cracked knuckles and split fingernails is to glue them back together.
He uses “choring” as a verb.
The first time I heard my farmer say, “I’ll be back after I’m done choring,” I had to stop and think to decipher his words. It’s just one example of farmers being frugal with language. I cringe when my farmer tells me he’s going to “mow lawn” or “build fence.” But instead of correcting him, I acknowledge that I’m in his country.
His mudroom looks like a Carhartt store.
My farmer’s mudroom is lined with hooks occupied by Carhartt jeans, insulated Carhartt bibs, Carhartt jackets and Carhartt sweatshirts. It’s like a Carhartt store, only everything is well worn.
He carries a pair of pliers on his belt.
Besides using pliers for his “choring”—fixing fences on the fly, picking up hot metal when welding tractor parts—my farmer pulls out thorny weeds and rips open bags of goat feed. And what I really appreciate is how he uses them to squash deer ticks.
He can fix anything with baling wire.
I used to think duct tape was the ultimate cure-all until I saw what my farmer could do with baling wire. When his car bumper came loose, there he was, crawling under the car with his 24-gauge wire (and his pliers). He’s made latches for the goat pen, hung a painting and fixed my espresso maker with it.
His vegetable garden is as big as a football field.
Farmers don’t do small gardens. They don’t know how. I’d warned him that if he wanted a big garden, he was going to do the weeding. You’d think my farmer wouldn’t want to spend his free time doing more farm work, but he bends over in the hot sun, pulls out weeds and brings in a vegetable bounty.
The lint catcher in the dryer is filled with farm debris.
I shake my head and laugh when I clean the dryer lint catcher. I know my farmer has been working extra hard when I pick out soybeans, corn kernels, hay, grass and rocks.
There’s an endless supply of meat in his deep freezer.
My farmer and his brother raise pigs and cattle. And once a year, they hunt deer. The deep freezer is packed with every possible cut of pork, beef and venison.
He works outdoors regardless of the weather.
It makes no difference if it’s 10 below zero or 100 degrees; my farmer’s cows need to be fed. Tornado warning? Lightning bolts? Blizzard? Pshaw! He’s out there in his Carhartts with his pliers. His leathery, freckled skin is a result of years of sun, wind and labor.
He checks his weather app obsessively.
A farmer’s friend—and often foe— is the weather. Before my farmer upgraded to a smartphone, he relied on the newspaper for weather reports, and he checked his rain gauge. Now when he’s staring at his phone, he’s watching the radar and hoping for the best.
He doesn’t listen when driving.
I’ve learned that I can’t talk to my farmer when we’re driving because he’s busy checking out others’ crops. He may share his thoughts: “You can smell the corn pollinating here. Look how straight his rows are.” I’ve learned not to be offended. It’s part of his charm.
He possesses tremendous patience and acceptance.
Be it caring for cattle or harvesting corn, farming requires a strong faith. It’s not for the faint of heart. My farmer’s heart is strong and large. He works tirelessly, without complaint, providing nourishment to others—and love to me.
For Doug Seyb and Beth Howard (below) dates go rustic. That’s Doug on Valentine’s Day at left.
A true farmer can often be found smiling at the seat of a tractor.