On the Farm

How to spot the tell­tale signs your sweetie spends life in the fields.

Country Woman - - CONTENTS - BY BETH M. HOWARD

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.

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