Invisible Woman

Photo courtesy of Todd Elhers under a Creatives Commons license.

I have stumbled across a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy here at the farm. Case in point: I have cleared by hand over two acres of land, built a garden, pruned fruit trees, scraped the corral clean of manure, trimmed the shrubs by hand with a machete, repaired and laid water lines, cleaned the cistern from a top ladder rung, trained the dogs, and begun to sell farm produce in the market. All are tasks that no one to date was doing at the farm. Also these are tasks which for the most part are traditionally done exclusively by men. The result of my boundary crossing?

My friends certainly can’t stop singing my praises and all that I am trying to do (one of the reasons why they’re my friends, of course). My in-laws? Total silence. When they talk among themselves about the farm, all comment about how much work there is to be done, how hard it is for one person to do it all. True enough. Ironically, I know that the “one person” they are talking about isn’t me–it’s my husband.

My husband does work the farm, but he also works long, long hours at the family store. It’s hard for him to find the energy for large projects on his 1.5 days of rest on the weekends. The way I figure it, if the work has to get done then it can’t wait for a man to come along. This farm is just going to have to settle for my feminine hands.  There are some jobs that require four hands or more shoulder strength than I’ve got, and those are saved for Sundays.  But I work really, really hard to keep the “Honey-Do” list as short as possible.  The poor guy’s got enough on his plate.

My work goes noticed, but unmentioned. When family comes to visit they see the changes, and yet we chat about the weather, admire the plants, maybe talk about the garden or my latest crochet project. Don’t ask. When visitors come to see the farm they admire the land and examine the callouses on my husband’s hands. No one points out my equally impressive set. Don’t tell.

Annie Lennox’s “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” happens to be among my “toetapper” playlist that usually accompanies my farm work. I move with an extra energy and determination every time it comes on. In my college days it was a jubilant, celebratory song. Now it moves in my life with a deeper rhythm.

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