Surviving as a harvest widow. How to deal with life when you’re a farm wife.

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Now before I start this post let me say that I know that I signed up for this lifestyle and everything it entailed. Yet, that does not make it easier when the long days of harvest set in during the early autumn and I slowly, but surely, lose my marbles only to regain them again around Christmas time. In many respects, being married to a farmer is excellent. We have flexibility (most of the time) when he needs time off, we live a fairly comfortable life, our children get to grow up playing in endless fields and they definitely will learn the value of hard work. However, being a farm wife can often be overwhelming and lonely, especially when you’re a very long way from home. I used to think that the homesickness and farm wife lifestyle were two separate issues, but now when I look back at times that I’ve yearned for my home most, it generally coincides with harvest or planting.

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The term “harvest widow” is kind of morbid but it actually refers to those crazy times in the farming calendar that fall in July and then again in September – late November when as a farmer’s wife you rarely see your husband. Most mornings he is up before me and the kids and most evenings he doesn’t return until long after I get to bed. Pros of this – I get to watch Gossip Girl unashamedly all evening while quaffing wine in my thermal PJs. Cons – I have to juggle the two kids and the craziness of dinner and bedtime (usually after a very long day of work at school for me!). It’s insane, it’s intense but it’s our life. Over the past decade I’ve come up with some coping mechanisms, that I’ve had to really hone since having two kids (single mums, I have MAD RESPECT for you! It is not an easy gig being alone!). Now I must admit that this year has been especially hard with the addition of our second daughter and I have felt tiredness like you wouldn’t believe. But here we are at the end of November with the final stretch of harvest before us and I can happily say I made it. Perhaps a little softer from comfort eating, teeth a little more stained from red wine and hair more than a little crazy from 4 month roots but I made it.  So I thought I’d share some coping tips with you all. Even if you’re not a farm wife, I’m sure many of us have husbands who are away a lot and like to feel like we’re not the only ones going through this.

Some tips from the international farm wife

  1. Focus on the fact that this too shall pass. I cannot reiterate the importance of those 4 little words. It will not be like this forever, the crop will come off the field and life will return to normal.
  2. Think about all the benefits. You get so much quality time with the kids, all the cuddles, all the kisses (OK, all the stress too but this is about being positive!). You can watch all the crappy TV you want without your other half moaning. You can paint your nails and wear your face mask in blissful solitude. Want a long bath, take it and your husband wont be disturbing you asking where easily located items are.
  3. Say YES to help. It is tricky in our situation as my family live across the Atlantic but I have had to become a lot more comfortable accepting help from my in laws and most importantly asking my mother in law for help when I need it.
  4. Get people to come to you. My dear friends are always happy to pop around with a coffee or tea (or wine, it is always 5 o’clock somewhere) for a chat. It isn’t the most exciting but after talking about potty, poop, dinosaurs and why the dinner you served is not poison all day, adult company is not just appreciated it is NECESSARY.
  5. Plan something that is just for you. Now this is tricky as harvest usually takes away the other main caregiver but if it rains and he can be home then go out and get your nails done. Enlist grandparents or a babysitter to watch the kids and go on a night out. You cannot become a hermit for 3 months. It will wear you down trust me. Hell, I just like going to Walmart alone for an hour. It is BLISS I TELL YOU!!!
  6. Try to get out to the field for a visit. I usually pack the kids up and stop for a coffee or take out and take my husband lunch or dinner. I really treasure those 15 minutes he stops in the car to eat with us and I know he does too.
  7. Send pictures of the kids to him so he doesn’t feel like he’s always missing out.
  8. Make the most of rainy days and Sundays. I know it seems crazy to say but rain days are your best friend as your husband will usually be home at a sociable hour. It truly is learning to dance in the rain.
  9. Have a well stocked wine fridge. You are deep in those parent trenches girl, take a load off sometimes!

Do you have a husband that works away from home a lot? How do you cope?

Jo xxx39310816_279434165994563_8158740834922004480_n(1)

The accidental farm wife

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“Don’t end up falling in love with an Australian and moving across the world!” These were my Mother’s pearls of wisdom before I set out on my three month adventure to Australia and New Zealand in 2008. Well, I took her advice…kinda.

Ten years ago after failing to secure a place on a graduate placement I decided to travel to Australia and New Zealand to clear my head. I booked the whole thing on a whim during my lunch break. It was crazy but maybe someone, somewhere in the cosmos lined up the whole thing because it was on that trip that I met my husband, a pig and cash crop farmer from Ontario. I remember laughing when my husband first told me what he did for a living as in Wales there aren’t a lot of eligible young farmers around. I pictured him with a small farm spending most of his days pottering around on a tractor. This wasn’t exactly the case and after trying to make it in Wales together, the reality that he couldn’t just up and leave his family farm set in so we packed up and moved to Canada.

Flash forward ten years and I live in a small town in Ontario, thousands of miles away from my home town of Wales with my husband and two daughters. I’m a primary school teacher and I absolutely love my day job. I have another job too, being a farm wife is no easy task. Add to that being an ex-pat and it can sometimes seem like the perfect storm. Here on this blog I hope to share my adventures on the farm, in the classroom and my every day life and create a space to give advice to others in my position (come on, surely more than one of us has met a dreamy farmer and uprooted their life!) Come join me for the ride!

Jo