I have met some incredible women working in farming and agriculture. The most interesting thing is that many have the same title – Mom.
A few months ago, I spoke with Tara Vander Dussen – aka the New Mexico Milkmaid – about the life lessons she is passing on to her kids through life on the farm. I reached out to several moms in food and ag for their insights – or “Momsights” – as I like to call them. They shared some wonderful wisdom on balancing work and family, raising kids on the farm and coping with bad days. Thank you, moms, for all you do.
Tara Vander Dussen, New Mexico Milkmaid
On asking for help: “As moms, we all want our children to be happy and to have a healthy family life. And this looks different for every person. So my challenge to you is, if you need more help, just ask. It is okay to have a hard time being a mom and it is even more okay to need help.”
Kelsey Pope, Ag on the Forefront
On connecting with consumers: “When you’re talking with food-eaters, consider shared values. This is what you have in common with the person you’re talking with. Maybe you’re both moms, or you both enjoy a certain type of food, or you happen to be in the same community group. Start out sharing your concern for this issue with the fact that you relate with that person. This commonality provides an inclusive relationship with them that helps them trust you.”
On the importance of animal care: “As a rancher and a mom, it’s just as important to have a health plan for our cattle as it is our kids. Animal welfare is a way of life for farmers and ranchers just like my family and me. On our ranch, we use a herd health program, much like a well-child check with children. I take my son to every wellness check that the doctors prescribe to make sure he is developing and growing and healthy. We do the same thing with our calves born on the ranch; that health care continues with all of the cattle on our ranch.”
Kylie Epperson, The Grateful Farm Wife
On setting examples – “So, to our kids, when it comes to farming, watch, listen, and do as we do. And if we do something wrong, learn from our mistake. If we have a huge win on the farm, learn from our success. Be humble. Be kind. And stop worrying about the weather. We are firm believers in showing the kids what hard work looks like and then empowering them to GO DO IT.”
On being enough – “It’s OK to not always feel OK. What you are doing in your current season is enough, do what you can with what you got and keep failing forward! Remember to always stay grateful even when times are hard. Even the smallest gratitude can make up for a pretty crummy day.”
On letting kids be kids – “Let them be little because they are only that way for a little while. They only grow up from here. There will only be so many more times they ask to be held, a boo boo to be kissed or an extra book to be read at bedtime… Motherhood is 50 % feeling like your head could explode and 50% feeling like your heart might. Keep on building up your littles. Make them know their worth and how freaking amazing their little brains and bodies are because they are only little for a short while. Don’t blink. And while you’re telling them how awesome they are, give yourself a little of that same love, too.”
Erin Brenneman, @sowmomma
On the next generation of farming: “The hope is always that they can learn to do it as good and better than we have ever done. This is the heart and passion of our farm!”
Michelle Washburn, @the.washburns
On learning by doing – “It is so easy to not take the time to teach kids. It gets done faster if I do it. It gets done the “right way.” Whatever that means. Because let’s face it, there doesn’t need to be a “right way” to throw straw bales or feed animals or vacuum or load the dishwasher. We all need to find what works best for us and there is no better way to do that, than to do the actual task!”
On learning from her kids – “I am positive my kids teach me more lessons than I teach them. It seems like kids can find happiness so easily and there is a lesson in that.”