This morning I’m working away at the kitchen counter while I have a sick kiddo home from pre-school. This is day two that he’s home, during my usually three-day work week. I’ll note that as a farmer, I’m truly never off duty, I still have to chores, check livestock and carve out time here and there for other projects outside of my Monday-Wednesday “8 to 5” work week. Don’t get me wrong. I am very glad I have the flexibility to take time off to be here for my kids when they aren’t feeling well. And, I do want to be here for him. But, that means I also had to cancel an onsite meeting I had with a meat processor and will likely sort of get to the rest of my tasks today (working on business marketing, a community outreach project, and of course the day-to-day work of the farm). That’s ok. It’s part of being a parent. But, if I’m really being honest as a one-woman shop, I admit it’s a little disheartening to feel like I’m losing traction on getting things done and moving the needle on my farm business.
Aside from my parent duties today (and, of course every day), part of the reason we’ve chosen to have daycare for our kids, is so I have designated time to focus on my business. It’s for a variety of motives: being present with my work and with my family, being safe around the farm, effective use of time in the office and on the farm, balance (or attempt!) between work and family time, and (also, an attempt) to prevent burn out in work and, even in our marriage. I know others who make it work and kudos to them! This is what fits for our family and farm. [Side note: Did you know that Bert on Sesame Street was just reading “50 Shades of Oatmeal” before he got interrupted by Ernie to make a movie? Ha ha. Got to love PBS Kids ]
I’ve written and talked about this balance of being a parent and farming before. And as others may also know, one of my favorite “hobbies” is to listen to podcasts for both fun and professional development. This morning seemed to be a nice fit for sharing several “good listens” in the world of podcasts as it relates to women in agriculture and leadership. Note these link to Apple podcasts since that's where I listen, but you should be able to find them on other podcast platforms.
Do you know of other relevant podcasts? I’d love to hear your recommendations! I know have a few more Female Farmer Project and Sharpen podcasts on related to this topic on my "listen list."
Writer’s note: As a finalist in the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Excellence in Agriculture competition, I had the opportunity to share my background and contributions to agriculture, but also pressing issues I see impacting agriculture today. I’ll be covering these issues in my blog.
While the agricultural industry has come a long way in becoming an open environment for women, there’s still an underlying, often unintentional perception of the role a women plays in production agriculture, and even the jobs that support this field. More and more women are becoming sole farm owners, or are sharing the decision making with their husbands or families, and also working in careers that directly work with farmers. More young women are planning to work in agriculture. Are we really doing our best to make this an open, welcoming environment?
You might be thinking: Why should I care? Isn’t this a women’s issue? We should work to shift mindsets for a few reasons. On a personal level we all have connections to women: daughters, grandchildren, wives, girlfriends, sisters and friends. From an industry perspective there will be a huge shift in the workforce in the near future. Baby boomers will be retiring in business and farming. There will be a greater number of women stepping into roles. We need to help build a welcoming environment for this next generation, especially if we want to keep women in agriculture, especially as farmers and in careers that directly serve farmers. Finally, whether it’s a niece, neighbor, co-worker or colleague I encourage others to keep an open mind about the roles and abilities of women in agriculture
More action: Stepping up
The perceptions of women can continue to change by our own actions we take in the agricultural community and related organizations. Here’s what I’ve been doing as a farmer, who happens to be female:
I own and manage Cylon Rolling Acres in northwestern Wisconsin. On my farm I raise Boer - Kiko meat goats on pasture.
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Cylon (pronounced Si-lon) is the name of our township in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Sorry fans, our farm is not named after the robots of Battlestar Galactica.