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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Mid Summer Hay Harvest by Women Farmers

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Bright sunlight glinting off golden grass in farm pastures paints a picture of America's farmlands in mid-summer, a time for hay harvest. 

Trucks laden with huge rolled hay bales driving through uncut hay fields is a common sight in mid-summer as farmers gather hay for their livestock to eat during the long winter months to come. 

Years ago, the hay bales were smaller rectangular bundles lifted by hand by strong-muscled men who pitched the bales onto trailers pulled by tractors. Hard, back-breaking, sweaty, itchy work each summer turned teenaged boys into strong men. 

Family farms were run by men and their sons. The more sons, the more workers to manage the farm. My maternal grandfather and grandmother had six children, five boys and one girl (my mother), and were cotton sharecroppers. 

Yes, men were the backbone of any farming enterprise, but women on small farms also worked long hours in the fields. My grandmother chopped cotton and picked cotton along side my grandfather and uncles. In addition, she grew a L A R G E family garden for food. In the summer, she prepared fresh vegetables for meals and canned large quantities for the fall and winter months, insuring food for all year.  

What about families without sons, only daughters? Like my sister-in-law. She is the oldest of four girls and no boys, born to a full-time farmer in Alabama. She grew up farming with her dad and mom, as did all three of her sisters. 

All of the girls in the family have held jobs other than F A R M E R, but all know how to farm. 

Look closely. That's one of my sister-in-law's sisters running that tractor with an attached hay loader.  

Cute, blonde ponytail... uh-huh.

That tool box on the tractor? ....  

Yes, all four... five including their mother... of those WOMEN farmers know how to use the tools when needed. Hard, back-breaking, sweaty, itchy hay harvesting turned the teenaged girls into strong women. 

Modern farming equipment allows for larger hay bales, but the work is still hard, hot, sweaty, and itchy. 

The hay barn is filling, but there is still more mid-summer hay to harvest. 

So, who do these strong farming women call when something goes wrong?

Like, when the hay bales rolled off the trailer earlier this day into the low-water creek over the pasture road? 

Why, one of their sisters, that's who! 

A hard-working blonde with a ponytail and B I G smile called her older sister for help... 

She came... 

They got the bales back on the trailer truck and at the end of the day, all the hay bales were in the hay shed. 

All in a day's work for strong women farmers who come from a long line of women farmers. 

My grandmother would be proud. 

Do you have any women farmers in your family?


  1. I was complaining about the work of cooking a turkey for a recent holiday meal. My mom said it was nothing next to her mother who would raise, kill, pluck, and then cook the turkey for their meal. That shut me up.

  2. I often forget that I now live in the bread basket of the nation, that I grew up in the salad bowl of the country, and that I went to school in one of the nation's earliest educational systems (Minnesota, California, Boston, respectively). And with all that said, I often forget the PEOPLE who make things run. Whether it's traditions and generations of farmers from the midwest or immigrants picking our daily produce, it's PEOPLE who make this place run.

    Gorgeous post, honoring the women who feed us.

  3. I'm a female farmer and LOVE it! Also prefer the small bales of hay over those rolls. The best part of working on the farm is when we did it as a family. Now days I enjoy working beside my husband as we prepare for a new journey. Farm life has made me a more thankful and better person. I couldn't imagine living any other way. Absolutely enjoyed this and your photos are terrific.

    Carole @ Garden Up Green

  4. I grew up on a farm, but was too little to do really hard work, but remember throwing bales, (rectangle ones) around a hay loft on July 4th when I was around 7 with my mother and older sister. HARD work!!

  5. I too grew up on a farm in Ga. where I still live today. When I was young my dad was a tobacco farmer. I try to tell my children about the days of mule drawn sleds of tobacco being pulled to the barn where it took hours of hot work to get it in the barn for curing! Moon pies and RC colas were a delightful snack break most mornings!
    What a wonderful post!

  6. Yes! I grew up with four sisters and no brothers on a farm. We worked in fields, tended to livestock, grew a huge garden, and canned food. Yes, we are all cute blondes, and yes, we all grew up to be strong independent women! Two of us married farmers and continue to help run farms. A good life.

  7. I am loving this post. One saying keeps running through my mind when I see this.

    Girls rule, boys drool!

  8. No farming in our family (we are big city/suburban dwellers)but I have the utmost respect for the families that toil in heat, cold, rain, snow etc. to provide food, grain, cotton etc. for us. A truly heartfelt thank you for all you do!!

    Marilyn (in Dallas)

  9. I love this post and it made me smile! Honey, I was raised a farmer! Lots of hard work, sweat, tears and more comes with the job. When I got married the farming life slowed down to a garden so we could can and freeze veggies. As I have gotten older our garden is something we piddle with because it's in our blood. But I have the most highest respect for and women! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  10. Fun take on farming, Judith. I didn't grow up on a farm, but lived in a small rural farming community where many family members and friends were farmers. It's hard work! Thanks for sharing this great post.

  11. Oh, I loved this post too! I want to say WELL DONE to these beautiful ladies! I think they are SWELL! Hugs, Diane

  12. This was such an awesome and inspiring post Judith! Thank you for linking up to Thoughts of Home on Thursday. We really appreciate you! Have a wonderful weekend!

  13. I grew up in a production woodworking shop. It was also hot, sweaty, itchy noxious work, but wherever my Dad was, I wasn't more than 3 steps behind! I learned to run the equipment as soon as I was tall enough to see over it. We also had a big garden for canning to provide winter food. Our midmorning/mid afternoon treat was watermelon...all summer....even the dog got his share :^)
    Girl power is great!

  14. Chère Judith, bonjour! Thank you for visiting my garden and for pinning the photo! I really appreciate that, as I have found that my photos don't seem to get much interest. Thank you so much.

    We are now enjoying the wild deep blue of the delphiniums! Oh, my favorite flower in July!

  15. I'm impressed that the girls run the tractor.

    Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  16. Such an informative post. I salute all farmers. Where would we be without them? I am amazed how so many women farmers. Thanks for featuring them and their hard work.

  17. That's great Judith! I was raised on a farm but, it was very traditional. The women fixed the meals and the men did the farming. Lol! Thank you for sharing at Home Sweet Home!


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