STORY BY Kristen Oaks-White & Neil Melancon
The end of harvest season has always been a time of reflection on all the hard work of the past season.
That’s why it’s a good time to take a look at all the hard work women on the farm do, from the more traditional, yet critical support roles to, increasingly, running the farm themselves. Mandy Faulk and her husband Adam farm in Franklin Parish and for them, they balance work on and off the farm, as well as family life.
“It’s a never-ending job, you know?” Faulk said. “What Adam does every day is a hard job. He leaves at seven in the morning and I may not see him again until 10 at night. There are a lot of things I have to do in between like take the kids to school and go to my job.”
Even with all those jobs, the needs of the farm can always intervene.
“There are times when Adam will call and say, hey I need a part!” she said. “So I have to drop everything and go wherever he needs me to get the part.”
Julie Richard said the traditional jobs on the farm for women may still be around, but in complex modern farming, her job managing the farm is necessary for its survival.
“My grandmother, her whole role was to have breakfast fixed, lunch fixed, and if they were harvesting late to have supper fixed,” Richard said. “And to raise the children and make sure the clothes were washed, and that was it. Today, I do far more than that.
“Whether it’s FSA or dealing with insurance or dealing with NRCS or some of the programs we’ve done here on the farm, I’m handling it,” she added. “Somebody has to make the production decisions and someone has to help with the business side, so all of mine are on the business side.”
Kacie Luckett is a woman involved in the production side—literally picking the produce on their operation. She’s part of a rising tide of women directly involved in production agriculture, which now accounts for one-quarter of all U.S. farming operations.
“Farming is a lot of sacrifice, a lot,” said Luckett, who also is busy marketing Luckett Farms on social media. “But it's something that we like to do and something that we enjoy. Something that we're passionate about and the downs make the ups a lot sweeter.”
When Amelia Kent is not busy as chair of Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher Committee, she can be literally found on horseback, tending to her 300 cows. A Wellesley graduate and veteran of numerous ag competitions, she’s no stranger to the adversity that comes with farming.
“We tag each cow for the purpose of ownership and monitoring,” Amelia said, ear-tag punch in hand. “It helps when we have to de-worm them, too, to be able to separate them out. Some days, I go right from that to a meeting at Farm Bureau. It can be tough, but I wouldn’t have chosen any other life.”
Danielle Yerby said being a support system is not just important, but the most important role on her farm with her husband, Ryan. Managing stress in agriculture that competes on a world stage is crucial to keeping everything going.
“I may not drive a tractor everyday like he does, but there are days that he comes home and he’s at his wits end,” Yerby said. “You know, the bank didn’t call, or the fertilizer didn’t come, or the line was too long for him. I’m that says, everything is going to be ok. Because it will be, everything will always be ok. This too shall pass.”