In 2006, I started dating a local university professor. He was a divorced father of two and I was a divorced mom of three. We were so busy shuttling our daughters to sports practices and music lessons that the time we spent together was really more of a carpooling event than a date.
I visited his hobby farm over the first year we dated but the bulk of our time together was spent in town, where most of our activities were located. He cleaned up really well, so, other than the fact that he disappeared for a few days during haying and lambing seasons, he really didn’t resemble a typical farmer.
The man was delightfully old–fashioned, so we didn’t live together before we married in August 2007. The fact that he was also a farmer sort of slipped my mind.
But the morning I woke up on the farm to the sound of a donkey braying beneath our bedroom window, it all became clear. My husband was a college professor and a sheep farmer. I had become the Accidental Farmwife.
For the past 10 years, I’ve been learning my way around the farm and the Farmer and I have been settling into life together as an old married couple. We’ve raised sheep, turkeys, chickens and barn cats. We’ve had a sheep dog, a couple of Belgian horses and a mischievous donkey. Now we’re raising cattle and getting ready to start all over again with a golden retriever pup.
Our five daughters are grown up and starting families of their own. Our first grandchild was born last year and we get to see her a couple of times a week because she lives nearby. Parenting is much more fun by the time you’re grand.
My husband and I host weekly dinners for family and friends. This tradition came about during the time my father was sick and continued after his passing. It’s the glue that holds our family together and the thread running through my stories. Lives are busy but our daughters don’t like to miss Sunday dinner on the farm. Quite often, old and new friends will join us. Sometimes, the musicians among us break out the guitars for an impromptu concert on the back porch at sunset. They sing for their supper.
An audience of cattle, drawn by the music, stands at the fence. They don’t applaud our efforts but sometimes they moo when the music stops. It’s the perfect ending to a weekend, and a quiet meditation on what’s important in life before everything speeds up and another work week begins.
I was raised in the country, the daughter of a high school science teacher and a college secretary. We had land but we didn’t farm. My sister and I visited the farm down the road quite often, to play with the barn cats and ride the horses.
It wasn’t really my comfort zone. For a time, I thought the local 4-H club was a dance studio. The boys who were members were the only ones who knew how to do a two-step. I never imagined I would one day be married to a farmer.
I’m not sure what he imagined in a farmwife. Probably someone who would mend his pants and the fence that ripped them. After picking apples and making a pie.
In truth, the Farmer mends the pants and makes the pies. I just write the stories and pour the wine.
When people ask about a bucket list, I say I’ve already done and seen everything I need to experience. I travelled extensively and lived overseas for a time. I look out over our 200 acres of glacial moraine, forest, farmland and creek, and realize my bucket is full to overflowing. It may be full of manure but it is full.
This column is sort of like a weekly diary entry. Some of the stories will make you pine for a romantic life on the farm, with its sustainable agriculture and honest day’s work. Many of the stories will make you laugh, especially if they remind you of something in your past. Some stories will make you weep but they’re necessary, too, as part of life.
Feel free to contact me and share your own farm stories, present or past. I love to read about how things are done differently across the country and around the world. We’re a rare breed, we farmers. And rarer still, we farmwives.
Thanks for reading.
Diana Leeson Fisher is married to university professor Jim Fisher and lives on a small farm near Kemptville, about an hour south of Ottawa.
© Troy Media
The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.