On my refrigerator is a clipping from the local weekly newspaper recognizing a neighbor couple’s 50th wedding anniversary. The clipping features a picture of an attractive young couple cutting a wedding cake along with a photo of the same couple, much older, but evidenced in the wide grins, a very happy couple.
My wedding anniversary, as well as my parents’ and Jim’s parents’ anniversaries are all within the next few days, giving me cause to sit back and think about the significance of this partnership. I would never suggest that a marriage for those who live and work in production agriculture is “better” than the marriages of those who are not. I am most familiar with those whose “home base” is on a farm.
I recently visited with a couple that I know from Sangamon County, Illinois. Their marriage has spanned many years and there is some talk of turning the farm over to the next generation. She told me that she could not imagine not having had the opportunity to work with her husband all of these years. She said, “We weren’t always together every day. I may have been in one field and he was in another, but we always had something to talk about at the end of the day.”
My parents have farmed together for many years. They are not operating as many acres or managing hogs and cattle like they did when there were 4 kids at home, but their partnership – on the farm and in their marriage – has lasted nearly 54 years.
My mother-in-law held a job off the farm for most of her life, but she has always been a partner on the farm as well. Early in her marriage, she would come home over her lunch hour to “check heat” in the dairy herd while Bill was busy planting. Bill and Cleo have been married 57 years.
Over the years, covering county farm bureau, beef association or pork producers meetings, I came to know so many wonderful “farm couples.” Not every wife drove a tractor or fed hogs. In some partnerships, there were defined responsibilities for each person. Although the tasks may have been different, they were still working together toward the same goals. Those goals usually included raising a family and building a business that would support them throughout the years.
I’ve talked with so many of you whose “farm marriages” have overcome the crisis of the 80’s, droughts like the one we are experiencing this year, floods, hail damage, rising fuel, fertilizer, and iron costs, and PRRS. You’ve somehow managed to communicate with one another when you were on opposite sides of an issue and to keep up with the overwhelming demands and daily challenges of complicated and stressful lives.
I salute those of you who have worked together in partnership on the farm and in life whether it be for 5, 15, 50 years. You are setting a good example for others.