If I Had Only Known

Probably no one will find this hard to believe, but I have always preferred an outdoorsy life. I grew up with brothers for best friends and we spent our childhoods roaming our small farm and our grandparent’s property. Our parents took us on countless hiking, fishing, and camping trips. Adventure was my middle name as soon as I could walk.

But none of this fully prepared me for life on the cattle farm with Dustin. After a toasty June wedding, I promptly began my life as the farmer’s wife. My new role was a bit interesting, to say the least.

The cows escape from their pasture while you are cooking dinner? That is tough luck. You turn the oven off and go help get them up. A cow need help calving on a 16 degree morning? Better bring a gallon of hot water to wash up with after the job is done. Going to be a scorching hot day while working cattle? Better bring extra drinks cause you’re working anyway. And don’t even think about wearing shorts. Boots and jeans it is.

None of these things were a huge shock to me, but it required some figuring out on my part. There was a learning curve. Several times I have pondered that maybe every beginner farmer’s wife should receive a guidebook immediately after the wedding. The minister might say something like, “You may now kiss the bride. And oh, here is your copy of The Farm Wife Manual. Good luck!”

If it were possible to time travel, here are a few things I would go back and tell myself:

1. Whatever time estimate your farmer gives you, mentally double it. During hay or cattle working season, triple it. If he says the job will only take an hour, brace yourself for 2-3 hours. This is the new math that is now your life.

2. Learn to pack your own snacks. Unless you’re really lucky, your farmer will not think about food while he’s working. He probably will ask you to share your snack with him, though, so pack well.

3. Go ahead and get on a first name basis with the guys at the John Deere parts counter. You’re going to see them often. Real often. Might need to consider inviting them to Thanksgiving.

4. Rainy days can be good. Or they can be bad. If luck is on your side, you get to sleep in for a few minutes. Or, if the cows have to be fed that day, better get up on time and wear a raincoat. Don’t forget the muck boots.

5. Speaking of weather, learn to watch the sky. Especially during the summer hay season. See a cloud on the horizon? That probably means you better help your farmer get the job done quickly. Summer thunderstorms will change plans in an instant.

6. The cows will get out. It isn’t a matter of if, it’s when. They get out most often on Sunday mornings, when you’re trying to attend church services. And on Christmas morning. Or whenever you’re out of town. It’s an unwritten rule among the cattle herds. Somehow they know when to inconvenience you the most.

7. Until you have kids, you are the official gate-getter. Make yourself a t-shirt that displays your new job title, if you like.

8. When choosing interior paint for your house, go ahead and use mud colored paint. For everything. Walls, doors, baseboards. Make them all mud colored. You can thank me later.

9. Embrace the fact that your porch will never be clean. Make peace with the fact that muck boots are now part of your decor.

10. Prepare yourself for some tears. Long days are going to hurt. Literally. But also prepare yourself for plenty of sweet moments. The sun sets beautifully as as the work day is over. The heifer that had her calf while you watched will be something you won’t forget quickly. The thrill in your boy’s eyes as he drives his his toy tractors through the Alabama dirt will make you smile for days.

This list could go on forever. If I had known any of these things, of course I would have chosen this life all over again. But, you get the point. This life is full of unexpected events. Just like any other life. But, we can all find the humor and hang in there.

“Nothing succeeds like success. Get a little success, and then just get a little more.”

Maya Angelou

Thanks for reading,

Ashley

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