Most of us don’t think twice about the people behind our food. The people planting, growing, and harvesting. Many of us don’t realize the backbreaking, brutal, lonely work that goes into that one glorious ear of corn you might pick up for pennies at the grocery store. Some of us might not think twice about the sugar we spoon into our morning coffee. And certainly not all of us contemplate the existence of the beef that we bite into with a big, delicious burger.
But the men and women who are clocking in hours as farmers are the very people that make the world go `round, and one farmer’s wife recently shared a sweet look inside the sacrifice — and sweetness — of life on the farm.
Katie Spence Pugh, a mom of three, including twins who were born in 2010, and pharmaceutical rep who lives in West Tennessee, posted a picture to Instagram and Facebook about the hardships of being a farmer’s wife. In her family blog, Pugh described how she and her husband, Eugene, had been college sweethearts before getting married. When Eugene decided to help run his family’s farm, Pugh also made a commitment to shoulder the sacrifice that comes with shouldering many of the responsibilities of parenting solo.
“I snapped this picture the other night at the end of a long day,” Pugh wrote. “I was tired. I was irritated. I had sent my husband a text telling him that I knew it wouldn’t make a difference, but I wanted him to know that I was feeling fed up with how much he works and with all that I have to do everyday by myself. The full time job, cooking dinner, bathing kids, weekend trips without him, keeping up a home, you name it I was resenting it.”
Pugh went on to describe that she gave into those (very normal, I might add!) feelings of resentment several times over the grueling planting and harvesting seasons, when it’s typical for farmers to work until the wee hours of the mornings, only to stumble in for a few hours of sleep before climbing back into a tractor. And it was in one of those moments, when Pugh was feeling overwhelmed, that she had an epiphany.
“He came in, fixed his plate and sat down to eat all alone. He was tired. He was hot. He was exhausted. Rather than complain, he said he was sorry I was tired and felt that way. Charlotte joined him and talked his head off and even ate most of his dinner. He didn’t complain. He shared, and it hit me. Do I wish that we saw him more than an hour or so a day? Yes. But, the love he has for his craft is something to envy. Farmers work in a thankless profession. It’s always non GMO this and organic that, and let’s not even talk about the stress from Mother Nature. This is a man who is working to uphold 4 generations of blood sweat and tears and showing his children the value of hard work and discipline. So while I felt frustrated, I really should have felt thankful. I got to sit down to dinner and hear all the stories from the day with the kids. I got to give them a bath and hear their squeals and giggles. I got to snuggle and love on them for 3 hours more than he did. He is the one sacrificing, not me. We will keep on keeping on until the next rainy day when we get a few extra hours with our hard worker.”
Pugh’s words have resonated with farmer’s wives, and us mere mortals, all around the country, as it has been shared over 48K times. Where I come from, country living and farming is a way of life for many people. My husband grew up on a Centennial Farm in Michigan, watching his father and uncles get up day in and day out, milking cows, feeding steers, and logging long, endless hours during planting and harvest seasons. The life of a farmer means no breaks and he often recounts the frenzied excitement Christmas morning brought to him and his young brothers, waiting for dad to come in from the barn with cold hands and a tired smile. Farm life waits for no one, not even kids on Christmas morning.
If nothing else, Pugh’s words are an important reminder to remember the sacrifice of those who work so hard to provide for us all.
“The next time you slip into that comfy cotton shirt or eat delicious farm fresh food, thank a farmer. Where would we be without them?” asks Pugh.
Consider this our thanks to you, Eugene, and to you, Katie. Because farming, like parenting, is always a team effort requiring sleepless nights, endless patience, and a whole lot of comfort food.