Wanna be my friend?: An honest look at being a harvest widow

August 2016 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

Kali-MartinBy Kali Ramey Martin

Harvest widow.

It sounds like a dramatic term but I’m guessing it feels pretty darn accurate for a lot of us around here these days.

My first season as a harvest widow was hard, sure. I marathon-watched old episodes of Pioneer Woman before going to bed by myself, took dinner out to the field most nights and spent a lot of weekends walking the dog and getting used to the sound of the ever-present silence.

But I felt like things went pretty well, we did our best to cope with the absence and exhaustion, and by October were back to our happy old selves.

But this year… this year has been a whole new ballgame.

Instead of going into harvest all rested up, we went in after four months of new parenthood, being massively sleep deprived. Now, instead of finding ways to occupy my time, I have to find a way to get everything done that needs doing, all by myself. Having a little guy around means that I’m on call 24 hours a day, and there’s no one else to hold him so I can switch the laundry, watch him while I do the dishes or step in to give him a bath or change a diaper. It’s on me to feed three people (and one puppy), keep us clothed, clean and healthy.

I adore my husband and love being mama to our sweet boy, but this summer has been nothing short of exhausting.

And in that exhaustion, I’ve found myself thinking about the other farming families in this community.

Wondering how the other “harvest widows” are getting along.

Thinking about the other mamas collapsing into bed at night, only to get up a few hours later with a crying babe. The ladies whose piles of dirty work clothes are their only evidence of a husband. The women who stand strong to support their farmers all summer long, only to get them back in the fall run completely ragged, depressed about crop prices and feeling like their hard work was all for naught.

I think I imagined that moving to this small community where everyone seems to know each other meant that I would quickly get to know everyone.

But it’s kind of felt like everyone already knows or knows of each other, and I’m not sure where or how to break in.

I guess I had a somewhat idealized image of the connection between local farmers and their families. More potlucks, more picnics. More mamas with babies hanging out at each other’s houses, sharing stories and meals and warm summer nights. I imagined getting to know other harvest widows, going through the same thing at the same time, able to share their understanding, solidarity, support.

Perhaps it’s silly to have such an expectation, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the best at making new friends.

In fact, I haven’t made any new friends that I’m not related to since moving here in 2014.

I’m not super comfortable involving myself in group activities. I’m introverted, probably a little too blunt for my own good and being a young mama, spend most of my days at home, making it difficult to meet new people.

But I love cooking and farming and babies, hiking, fishing and Little House on the Prairie.

And I believe in the idea of harvest widows banding together, helping each other make it through busy season, perhaps with a little bit of fun to be had.

Wanna be my friend?

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