Scattered like wildflowers across the Gorge are women living the country life. Their days are full: planting a garden, raising animals, spinning wool, canning food. The way of life affects the lives of friends and family, and it leads all of them on new paths.
Muddy boots by the door, rough hands always in need of soothing balm, and never-ending chores are part and parcel of the life they choose. They cook meals for family and friends, filling the table with fresh vegetables from their gardens, meat raised on their farms, freshly baked bread, and fruit from their trees, drizzled with honey from their bees or cheese made that morning. Serving their bounty is what they do as a part of life.
Their joy, digging in their soil to plant potatoes, is transferred to the delicious fall soup served with bread, made from wheat they milled and butter they churned. They do modestly what others couldn’t imagine doing at all. These women are practical. Some innate part of their being knows how to bind a wound on man or animal. They know how to help animals give birth. They know how to store onions for the winter. They know how to appreciate both the sun and the rain.
Helping others seems to be second nature. It may be mending a fence or a pair of jeans; they just step forward and help. A farm girl doesn’t miss a step in a rainstorm as she brings anewborn goat into the house to warm up. She wraps it in a towel and fills a bathtub with warm water; the tub can always be scrubbed and the towel washed.
Farm girls use what they have. A large tree that fell in a winter storm might be cut for firewood. A portion of the trunk can
be used for a stool or tabletop, or its branches can be woven between the wires for an artistic garden fence. If the tree were a
ponderosa pine, they could gather the needles to make baskets, weaving beside a winter fire. When an early winter freeze is expected, they gather the last of the garden’s tomatoes, onions, carrots, and other crops to can for winter soup: there is no reason to waste good food. When she cannot find the perfect tool, wire, thread, or pot, she makes do with what she has. Fashion is unimportant to farm girls.
Yet, seeing one striding purposefully to the barn – feed bucket in gloved hand in jeans, boots,
Carhart jacket, and hat – you glimpse the natural fashion statement. Store-bought battered and faded jeans seem imitation by comparison. Farm girls walk with confidence, wearing a look of experience, of life lived well on a farm.
It is a style that the fashion industry is unable to reproduce because these girls are authentic, one of a kind.
Capable hands have peeled mountains of apples and potatoes over the years, doctored sick cattle, gathered eggs, turned
compost, and sewn aprons. Still, the hands remain strong yet gentle, worn yet beautiful.
Farm girls find that a pickup truck, with its strong hitch and a trailer, is the right rig whether it’s hauling hay, carrying 50-pound bags of grain to the barn, or transporting a sick animal to the vet. They learn to drive tractors and backhoes
because it is necessary. A two-seat compact sports car might be nice but just can’t get the job done.
Farm girls are the first to admit that farm life is easier when men help with the work. Smart. While they’re independent, they know the value of working together. It may make sense for the woman to can the tomatoes while the man cleans out the irrigation ditch; but if the ditch has to be cleaned and the man is not around, then the farm girl grabs the shovel and goes without hesitation. Some farm girls are born on a farm that has been in the family for generations. Many others were born and raised in large cities, yet a yearning to grow food, raise animals, and live on the land tugged at their hearts. They may live on a couple of acres in a small cottage, tucked under huge oak trees; or they may be in large country homes on hundreds of acres. A farm girl’s heart holds something hard to define, but you see the signs—their joy digging the deep, rich soil while planting and harvesting; their love of the barn’s lush, pungent smell; their need to be surrounded with animals, large and small. They seem thankful while walking the frost-crusted path to the barn to pick up a newborn animal.
Sometimes those feelings of longing lie lodged in the heart, waiting for her to find her paradise in the country. Some live their
country life everyday.
Are you a farm girl? Share your stories with us!