Farm Wife 101

There is a poem I read a number of years ago that now speaks to me with a great deal of levity. Joan Hoffman, a ranch wife since the 1940s, writes about a ranch wife who walks into her new life “love first,’ and “in the evening listens to unfamiliar talk concerning post-hole diggers, pump-leathers, and rake teeth.” She misses her old life with her father’s charge card, her mother’s perfume, skipping out on the dishes and parking on the way home but “she squares her shoulders, burns the toast again and settles in.”

In the days in which this poem meant less to me, I was not yet a member of the largest sorority in rural America, a farm wife. My husband, a fifth generation farmer, has taught me a plethora of new skills and I have not yet caused any major injuries to either of us. When I visit with other farm wives around Lincoln County and eastern Colorado, they all have stories about learning to be farm wives. Many of the stories reflect the similar experiences we have.

I was relaying the story about my husband trying to teach me to drive the old Case tractor and disc to my friend, Larra, and how close I had come to throwing him from the cab. We laughed reliving the story, especially since Jason stood there, without injury, following my driving lesson. Larra’s husband cuts acres and acres of hay and often has Larra run the swather. She said he never really complained as long as the swathing was done until she cut a windrow in a field near a road. He finally told her that if she was going to cut near the road she was going to have to do it straight so no one who drove by thought he had swathed that crooked windrow.

No matter whether we are farm wives in Lincoln County, ranch wives on the western slope, the wives of dairymen, poultry producers, potato growers, honeybee kings or otherwise, we share a common thread and bond. We are all certainly lucky to live where we live and to make a living the ways we do. We are lucky enough.

I would love to hear your stories, email me at


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