Mothers do so much for their children and their family. I know my mother has had to take my brothers and me to school every day, she made sure that we were always safe, and she did her best to set us up for success in our future. My mother and many other farm mothers are particularly special in my opinion. Since we’re just past Mother’s Day 2012, I would like to give farm mothers some special recognition for mother’s day this year.

I don’t think that anyone appropriately expresses how much they appreciate their mothers. This is particularly true when it comes to mothers whose family farms. Farm mothers often go above and beyond to contribute to the happiness of the family and the success of the farm.

Recently, I interviewed Ruth Hambleton, founder of Annie’s Project for farm women. Annie’s project for farm women is a 32 state program designed to educate and empower farm women to improve as business partners in a farm business. Annie’s Project offers classes across the country to provide general information about finances marketing and estate planning as well as several classes that go in-depth into specific topics. Annie’s Project actually was named for Ruth’s mother, Annette Fleck. When describing her mother Ruth said, “She grew up in a small town and spent the weekends on her grandfather’s farm outside of the edge of the town and that is where she fell in love with the idea of being a farmer… She was the one who held the farm together, the family together. She was the center of the whole operation.”

Ruth recognizes that in different farm families, the mother has a different role, but all of the possible roles of a mother on a family farm deserve great recognition. Whether the mother is actively involved in the day-to-day operation of the farm, keeps the farms records, provides supplemental income to the farm by working at an off farm job, acts as a mediator for conflicts between family members, or serves any other sort of role on the farm, she deserves recognition for her indispensable contribution to the farming operation.

It is important for every mother to know how valuable they are to the farm. Some mothers may mistakenly believe that their contribution to the farm is minor if they spend most of their time working at a job away from the farm. This could not be farther from the truth. Ruth Hambleton put it this way, “Every dollar that they bring in for family living is a dollar that gets to stay within the farm. It is retained capital. Women who contribute to the family living through their off farm jobs have a huge contribution to helping these farms grow.”

I believe that most farms could not function and grow as they do if they did not have that farm mother holding everything together. I thank my farm mother who contributed to the farm through an off farm job as a speech pathologist at the local elementary school. I also thank all of the other farm mothers. No matter how you contribute to the farm, what you do is truly indispensable to your family’s farm business.

Nick Suess
Southern Illinois University student

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