May is the month where the flowers and trees are (hopefully) in full bloom, the weather is giving everyone a taste of what summer holds, and it hosts a day celebrating the mothers in our lives. In the spirit of Mother’s Day, I will be writing (and perhaps bragging) the mothers out there in agriculture!

The Invisible Load of Mothers in Agriculture

Up until three years ago I did not have firsthand experience of being a mother and a farm operator. The experiences I had were second hand through admiring my mom and other moms as they balanced keeping their kids fed, watered, and safe, while also attending to the needs of the farm. 

I remember being buckled into the old grain truck while my mom had supper wrapped up on the floor so she could take it to my dad, get the load of oats, and turn and burn to the bin yard. We would pick up the leftovers on the next load and drop them in the house on the way back to the bin yard. I remember thinking it was so fun to be along for the ride, completely oblivious to the mental and physical work that must have gone into both the meal and operating the grain truck. 

Fast forward 25 odd years and there are videos floating around of me blowing off our 2-year-old Red Angus bull with my then 5-month-old in a backpack carrier with earmuffs on. If my husband took pictures of more than just the plumbing and tractor parts he needs in town, his camera roll would be full of photos of our two kids sleeping in various tractors or trucks while we work to grow and bring in feed for our cattle. 

Do not get me wrong— I love this life—I am not complaining one bit (although there are times my husband may disagree with that statement). I love the challenge of making a hot meal while also working on the farm (bonus points if it’s hot and not burned). The farm has given me and my children so many opportunities to learn and explore, opportunities that you cannot find on a city block. However, there is an invisible mental load that mothers in agriculture carry as we try to balance the societal expectations of being a mother, and the realistic expectations of what it takes to run a successful farming operation. 

How to thank the mothers (ahem ALL WOMEN) in our lives

I know I have talked a lot about mothers and the superpowers they possess to keep it all together, but all women in ag (and there are ALOT, almost 80,000 according to a Stats Can 2021 survey) deserve acknowledgement for what they do. 

So, the real question all the men (maybe some of you women) out there want to know… how do you acknowledge the amazing women in your life? Well, every person is different, and I cannot speak to what every woman wants or needs. If I knew the answer to that I would be the richest person on the planet. But here are two quick ways to show some love and appreciation to the ladies in your life.

  1. Self Care- The act of improving or preserving one’s mental wellness. This one sounds like one that is on the mother/woman to do themselves, but you can support it by giving them the time and resources to truly do it. For example, my mother would never get a manicure or massage unless a certificate is given to her. Self-care looks different to everyone. Some people want to take time for themselves and others and like me, get the most self-care when I get to kick back with the people I love in my life and spend time doing things together (that do not include fencing, tractors, or moving cattle). Long story short: Self-care seems like an initiative a mother/woman needs to do on her own, but you can support her in the journey!
  1. Gifts- Hey I am not going to beat around the bush, people like presents! And for some your presence is a present, but sometimes you need to get off your wallet and treat the ladies in your life to something special! A meal, a night away, a gift certificate to be pampered (refer to above self care). Also, the gift does not need to be something physical. Acknowledgment, respect, and positive reinforcement go a long way and take no money at all. If you do choose to go the physical gift way— a word to the wise: avoid gifts of household items unless they are explicitly asked for. Very few women enjoy faking a smile as they receive a new mop, or toaster. 

“Happy Wife, Happy Rich and Meaningful Life” (or something like that) 

One last thing- and this applies to EVERYONE. I am sure we have all heard the term “happy wife, happy life”. There is truth in this statement, but the root of this saying is much deeper. We want life to have meaning and be worth something. In essence we want to create and live a Rich and Meaningful life

For some rich refers to money, but in this context, I am referring to a rich and meaningful life as creating a life that gives you purpose, satisfaction, and accomplishment. In our lives we must look within and ask ourselves, “What does a rich and meaningful life look like for me?”.  Ask yourself, “Who is in my rich and meaningful life? What does a day in my rich and meaningful life look like”, and ask yourself, “Am I doing something every day to get me to my ultimate goals in my rich and meaningful life?” “Am I surrounding myself with people that help fulfill me and my life?”. 

By knowing what you want out of life, and goals for yourself, you will be able to create a life you find fulfilling and fill it with people you can share the fulfillment and joy with. 

So, to all the women out there: I tip my cowboy (cowgirl?) hat to you. You may be an unsung hero behind the scenes, the face of the operation, or the entire operation. Whether someone has told you or not (if you have women in your life, I strongly suggest you do tell them), you are an incredible force. Me and the world thank you for all you do. Do not forget your worth, and your potential. After all, you can’t have rancher without HER.

by Kaitlin Anderson M. Ed. (G & C), 5th Generation Farmer

Stats Can (2022) Female farm operator numbers increase for the first time in 30 years. Website. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/96-325-x/2021001/article/00013-eng.htm

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Kaitlin Anderson is a ranch wife and mother to two fiery redheads. She lives on the farm with her redheaded husband, their dog, and the 250 purebred Angus cattle they own with her husband’s parents. Their children mark the 6th generation of Anderson’s of Anderson Cattle Co. in Swan River Manitoba. 

When she is not wrangling cows, dogs, and kids she is a teacher in town. She obtained her master’s in Guidance and Counselling this past February and is hoping to one day open a practice focusing on Agriculture centered therapy. You can find her on her recently created Instagram page “AgCounsellorKate”. 

Have you checked out our NFMHA Swag in support of farmer mental health? We have a fantastic ball cap, the sweatshirts are of high quality, super cozy and are perfect for those cool spring mornings and evenings. Proceeds go towards supporting farmers in rural communities in their mental health journeys. Follow the link in our bio to find the 'NFMHA Sho#FARMSTRENGTHr#farmstrongf#farmerselfcaree#BornToFarmb#farmingisinthegenesi#lovemyfarmerv#supportfarmerso#farmermentalhealthn#farmerwellnesse#AgMentalHealthn#farmersofinstagramfinstagram ... See MoreSee Less
Happy Thursday! Let's kickstart the day with some wellness habits for a healthier mind and body. Whether it's setting boundaries with a digital detox, establishing quality sleep or prioritizing self care, let's prioritize our well-being today and every day. You&#mondaymotivation #wellnesshabitst#selfcaren#mentalhealthtipsr#FosterUnderstanding##promoteresilienceg#raiseawarenessinmentalhealthr#nfmhallianceh#nfmha##ruralmentalhealtha#farmermentalhealth #farmermentalhealth ... See MoreSee Less
Today is National Child and Youth Mental Health Day and we would like to share some tip for children and youth going through difficult times. We hope they help you as you navigate life with the children and youth in your life. 01. Encourage open communication: Let your child know they can talk to you about anything without fear of judgment.02. Validate their feelings: Let them know it's okay to feel sad, angry, or anxious, and that you're there to support them.03. Teach coping skills: Help them develop healthy coping mechanisms like deep breathing, journaling, or taking a walk when they're feeling overwhelmed.04. Maintain routines: Consistency can provide a sense of stability during difficult times, so try to stick to regular schedules for meals, bedtime, and activities.Seek professional help if needed: If your child's struggles persist or worsen, don't hesitate to reach out to a therapist or counselor who specializes in#mentalhealth #childrensmentalhealtht#YouthMentalHealthh#ruralmentalhealthh#farmermentalhealthe#nfmhalliancee#nfmhaa#ittakesavillagee #nfmha #ittakesavillage ... See MoreSee Less
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