June 21, 2011

The Farmers' Wives Who Came Before.

This is my maternal grandmother.

Lilian Rebecca

I keep this photo on the wall in the main hallway of The Farm House.  I keep it there for a myriad of reasons, not least of all because I like it.  It reminds me of the fact that I am not the first farmer's wife to live this sort of life.  And the things that are hard today would have been so much harder two generations ago.

It is too easy to concentrate on the difficult things about living on a farm. There are times I feel isolated and I have learnt to be very self reliant as The Farmer works long hours.  Often I feel like we are at the beck and call of this farm of ours.  Our commitment is constant and the stressors are varied and unpredictable.

The day to day problems I face today are small compared to those farmers' wives faced two generations ago.

My beautiful maternal grandmother brought up four children in a small fibro type farmhouse on the bank of a river. I can't imagine she would have had much help. My mother can remember the huge excitement when she got her first electric mixer. One of my uncles bought it for her.  My mother was the youngest and she was in her teens by then.

My lovely paternal grandmother brought up two boys in a small farmhouse.  The district they were in flooded in the 1950s.  My grandmother delivered the neighbour's baby on the kitchen table as they were flooded in.  She had no nursing or medical experience but they all survived.

The Farmer's grandmother was one of the most stylish and elegant women I have ever met.  She brought up four children on a farm, made all their clothes and ran an immaculate house.  She told me that she used to have to drive to town each morning to do the "telephoning"for The Farm at the local post office.  Her husband died when her children were still relatively young.  With some help from extended family she ensured their farm continued and supported her two (then teenaged)  sons until they were able to manage it themselves.

Mains electricity came late to most farms.  They all had to have generators which were turned off at certain times to save fuel.  No one had air conditioning.  Water was scarce.

Me, I sit here in my big house. It is warm in winter and cool in summer. My kitchen and laundry have the latest appliances.  I have power, telephone, mobile phone reception and high speed internet.  The Farmer even gets his emails in the paddock.  I have my own vehicle and am able to come and go on a whim.

The truth is that sometimes life on a farm is still hard.  But not as hard as it could be.  I try and keep this in mind.

My Grandmother's Photo With My Reflection

27 comments:

Leanne said...

What a beautiful post! I think this can be applied to all aspects of our lives these days too. Even for those not on the land.

Thank you for a fantastic reality check this morning :)

Leanne xo

Faux Fuchsia said...

This post is excellent and your nana looks beautiful. I always think how physically easy my baby-life is compared to my mum's where she washed cloth nappies by hand and stuff like that....Electricity is my favourite invention ever. I never tire of it.xxx

Makeminemidcentury said...

AFW,
you have such a lovely blog. I really like your last photo.

You're right. We are all spoilt now because of technology and advancements. Imagine summonsing the strength and courage to help a mother give birth in the kitchen!

Georgie said...

I love this post. I know we have come to appreciate what we have here at SJW because of the lives of our parents and grandparents. Mr SJW has plenty of tough farm stories in his repertoire and my parents built their lives upon humble beginnings. That deserves to be remembered. gxo

Fiona said...

Beautiful post, it gave me goosebumps. We are so, so lucky in all that we have and we mustn't take it for granted. Those who went before us made what we have possible. Lest we forget.

Tania @ Out Back said...

I love reading stories like this. I often try to remember that my grandparents worked hard and did it hard (farmers too) to make my life easier.

We didn't get electricity on our farm until the early 70's, I remember dad going to start the generator about 4 in the afternoon. No TV before then! (and I dont think I was deprived, I had a great life)

Your grandmother is very beautiful, and she is with you every day.

Great post, thank you.

Sydney Shop Girl said...

What a beautiful post, AFW!

I genuinely admire you and the whole farming community for what you do and how you do it.

SSG xxx

Sydney Shop Girl blog

deux chiens et un garcon said...

Your grandmother was very beautiful. Having this history around for the farm children must add meaning.

Imagine what she would have written if she had her own blog?

LPC said...

What a beauty.

I'm So Fancy said...

Yes, even I was moved...:-)

Emma said...

So true. I try and remind myself of this often also, my grandmothers were all farmers wives and lived lives much harder than mine, more isolated and had to have guts, lots of guts and brawn and brains and spirit. Hats off to them.

Emma said...

As all the others have said... loved this post!! Your grandmother was so beautiful and the last photo of you reflected in her image is fantastic. x

MultipleMum said...

What a super post AFW! Loved reading it - the sentiment, the sense of history and time and your empathy. Fabulous stuff. There is always someone worse off than ourselves and this is a good reminder of that. x

A Farmer's Wife said...

Thanks everyone. Sometimes I worry I take too much for granted....

Joni Llanora said...

SO lucky you got those old photos to keep you on track. This is a very nice ode.

therhythmmethod said...

I think this is your best post AFW! And to think it popped up randomly on my reader (which seems to be possessed by the Anti-craft!)
Beautiful story-telling, just fantastic. And so true, there is always someone who was worse off than us. It's so important to be mindful of this.
Thank you for sharing.

Annette Piper said...

Life was certainly different then, we've got it very easy in comparison!

Amanda said...

I love this post and meant to comment earlier. Everything you say probably applies beyond farm life too, but the contrasts between generations are much starker, aren't they. My maternal grandmother had a tough farming life too, the eldest of many kids (and acting as the "mother" of most of them) and in comparison I should never complain about anything! Anyway, beautiful post. (Came from the Fibro!)

Cath said...

It is these stories and images that keep those real people (our ancestors) alive in our hearts. Thank you.
(Rewinding from the Fibro)

Sarah Mac said...

Such a lovely post, the photo with your reflection is beautiful.

Voluptacon said...

My maternal grandmother was also a farmers wife. But I have a photo of my dad's mum that I love, and reflect upon constantly.
Great post.

Rachel Faith said...

What a hauntingly beautiful image and post. Few better places for quiet reflection than a family farm. Off to go look at old photos now...

JinxyPinxy said...

Really lovely post :)

(And the picture is beautiful!)

Maxabella said...

Wow, all that and she was absolutely drop-dead gorgeous too.

Loved this post so much. x

Kellie said...

Really well written and such hauntingly beautiful photos. What a lovely way to remind yourself to be grateful for what the world has to offer us today. Those mums of generations previous were certainly inspiring women!

Seana Smith said...

Really enjoyed reading this post AFW, it's so true for all of us. My paternal grandmother had a very hard life and yet turned herself out well and was so houseproud. I can even remember my mum using a mangle to wring clothes in the 60's. We do have it easy these days, certainly here in the city suburbs. Tougher on a farm, but still lots to be so grateful for. Lovely post.

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

Superb post, as always. Love your way of looking at things.

Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro.