i can be set off for whole days by people coming over and talking about « p’s farm ».
yes. p. is a cattle farmer. he has been running a successful farm enterprise for over four years now. the cattle he pastures sells out quick and he is staying on top of countless infrastructure projects all the while managing two separate herds and a dairy duo on our 270 acres. he is awesome at what he does and i am awed by his creative problem solving daily.
but this is our farm. regardless of whether or not i become a big « F » farmer (regardless of whether i become more comfortable moving fences for forty large and hungry mammals, regardless of whether or not i staff the tractor half the time or know which insulators to order) coming here and calling it his makes me feel like this is the 1950s and that i am also his. or that i’m just along for the ride and don’t really matter.
and the truth of the matter (and the reason it really gets to me) is that i’ve had a hard time accepting that this is also mine, that we’re partners, equal stakeholders despite my very limited knowledge of farming. but i’ve gotten there. because it takes more than someone working with cattle to run this place. because we’ve taken on this massive debt together. because this is a shared life project.
the previous owner used to come around and ask about p’s tractor, p’s fields, p’s cattle, p’s sheds. we were just settling in, i was trying to find my bearings, and it almost did me in, almost sent me packing (« how can we raise progressive, feminist, kind-hearted children in a place where people think a woman on a farm is a lodger, is a house worker, is expendable?! »). he’s since seen how ridulously large (and successful!) the vegetable garden is, has seen me working tirelessly, has seen p. caring for our child and taking on reproductive work, and he has reeled in the comments. i breathe easier now when he shows up.
an unfortunate side-effect of all of this is the depreciation of all work and crafts traditionally done by women. all of a sudden it’s more important to learn to drive the tractor than to meet up with le cercle des fermières to learn about working with looms. or i temper my desire to take up sewing projects because i feel the need to be non-traditional and make the neighbours bite their tongues. it’s the exact same as foregoing pink for both girls and boys in the quest for ‘gender neutrality’ in children’s clothing. erasing all traces of femininity as though there’s something inherently wrong with being a girl, as though pink is specific and blue is not.
i aspire to not giving a shit about what people say or think about my role here. it’d be so nice though if people didn’t make sweeping, sexist assumptions about people’s roles, especially when a business is tied to a place and to a family. because it can be all the more alienating then.