This Friday, Oct.15, is International Rural Women’s Day. I admire and respect rural women, and my website features their stories. I am also proud to be one. Raised in Akron, Colorado, and then a farmwife for 30 years, I am who I am because of rural roots and experiences. I relate to women who live, survive, and thrive in what I often call “God’s country.”
This year, I had a “Big” birthday and went to visit my son and daughter-in-law on the farm. On the way, I stopped and drove up and down the paths of the Akron Cemetery. Weird, I know, but it was motivating and comforting to remember the influence of the many rural women engraved on tombstones.
Driving to the farm, I turned at “The Tree.” The lone tree in the ditch was where farm women would meet to carpool, and it offered directions to my house: “Drive south of Akron and turn left at The Tree.” The tree has died and been replanted and is dead right now, but it will likely get replaced because it is significant.
While visiting with my kids at the farm, nostalgia as vast as the plains gripped me for the rural women who supported me. How else could a young, idealistic farmwife learn and follow their high standards?
Women friends shared how to garden, bake, freeze vegetables, kill, dress, cut up chickens, play bridge, quilt, crochet, and knit. They taught me how to be a farmwife. Raised in the small town of Akron, one would think living on a farm would be an easy transition, but it wasn’t. I watched, asked questions, and practiced. Every day was an adventure, and young and old women friends and neighbors taught by example and helped me grow.
Raising kids and doing the house, yard, and community work happened because of rural women’s knowledge and support. They taught me more about human nature and tenacity than I could ever learn from a book. They threw hay bales on a truck, cooked three meals a day while driving the combine till dark, kept farm records, shot snakes, worked and doctored livestock, and did it all while raising small children, volunteering at school, and cleaning the church after teaching Sunday School.
I used to say I was raised twice—once by my parents and then by a farm thirty miles from groceries. Rural women taught me the love of the land, the strength of being a woman, and the value of friendship. I respect and admire my rural women friends and neighbors, and we still share a good visit, laugh, and tears, along with the wisdom needed to accept life.
Rural women have rich stories and an earned resiliency to life challenges. In my experience, they are the backbone of homes, schools, churches, and community improvement. They are tender and tough.
Kudos to women with roots in the land. This Friday, Oct.15, do something nice for yourself and celebrate being a rural woman.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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