You can be anything you want to be. Except a Farmer.

Growing up you always tell your kids that they can become anything they want to be, they can do anything they want to do. And when you tell them those words, you mean them, even believe them. Most of my play days found me with tractors, trucks and combines in my hands, not exactly the typical toys for a brown eyed, curly headed little girl.

This week I found myself browsing Oklahoma’s largest indoor farm show, in Tulsa. Thursday was a moderate day, but lots of looking and not much buying. As I walked down the isles I started to make a bet with myself. I passed booth after booth where vendors would glance at me, then continue to scan the crowd. I wasn’t who they were looking for. Not companies specializing in technology, not big machinery dealers, not even the Scentsy or LipSense ladies gave me a nod.

Granted, I am a college student who currently has $14.37 in her wallet. But, I am more than that. I’m the future of Agriculture. I’m a part owner in a 2500+ acre farming operation and irrigation business that services all of the state of Oklahoma. But, I’m a girl. And, a young one at that. I don’t fit the mold. I don’t have 50 years under my belt, my jeans aren’t Wrangler brand and I don’t wear an old co-op cap.

About 3 rows into the exhibits, without a single pitch or “Good Afternoon”, I made myself a bet. I walked out to my pickup and found a $20 bill. Walking back in I slowed my pace and let my eyes pay more attention to each booth, trying to make eye contact with the vendors. If one of them pitched their product, the $20 was theirs. My stubborn streak kicked in and I was ready to prove a point.

Half-way through the exhibits, still with no luck, I paused at a booth here and there, even picking up brochures on possible additions to our operation. Still nothing.

I made it through the entire farm show. Every booth. Every equipment display. The only interaction was with family friends that stopped me to catch up on family and farming. Not a single pitch. I didn’t fit their mold.

I can be anything I want to be. I can become a lawyer, a senator, an accountant, an astronaut (okay, maybe not with the current classes I’m enrolled in..), ANYTHING, even a farmer. I have every intention of following the passion I have for agriculture, I intend to follow it all the way back to the red soils of Caddo County. I know I am capable, I know I can put in the work, but there are still many bridges I must cross, beginning with the one that requires me to break the mold of what a farmer looks like. Let’s face it, I’m probably not gonna rock overalls on a tractor, and Red Wings just aren’t my style. But then again neither are hot pink work gloves (Seriously?! Am I working flamingos?! {No offense intended for flamingo farmers}).

I am somewhere in the middle. I’m young. I’m female. I’m the future of Agriculture. I’m one of many like me who will be putting food on your plates for the next 50+ years. At least try to sell me a tractor, I’m gonna need a few.

P.S. The $20 that I got to keep bought me a pretty good steak for supper. Pitch to the young female. She might just buy your dinner, she might even raise it.

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20 thoughts on “You can be anything you want to be. Except a Farmer.

  1. Yes- thank you! What’s horrible is I think it may have actually gotten worse when I got married. Most of them don’t even look at me now. Even if I am wearing Redwings AND Wranglers (which I would think would be enough). I’ve come to like being underestimated, makes it even easier to exceed people’s expectations. I will say though, find the folks who want your business and stick with them. They are out there and they’ll make your life so much easier!

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  2. Absolutely love this. It’s very true about not fitting the mold. I see it every day at work. I can say something that is 100% right and makes perfect sense but there is always 1 guy in each barn (I work in pigs) that just doesn’t believe me. Until I bring my boss along on a site visit and he then says the same thing I’ve been saying for weeks. Or the farmers just go completely over my head because there is no chance I know what I’m talking about, right? It can be frustrating being a female in her mid-twenties in ag. Feel your pain! But I’m glad you got a nice steak dinner out of saving your $20 🙂

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  3. My Sister Starr Spencer had the same problems back in the late 80’s
    I will pass this along to her 🙂
    Thank You Brittney for telling us your story.

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  4. This is exactly where I find myself. I’m in a very similar position to yours. I’m a freshman animal science student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a background on my family’s farm/cattle operation that I plan to go back to after I finish school. It seems that so many people underestimate us as women and believe that we’re not capable or able to do the jobs that our fathers and grandfathers do. I have a younger brother who has little interest in coming back to the farm after he finishes college but I do and a lot of people don’t seem to understand that. I absolutely loved your post.

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  5. We’re four women in ag. The first year, the big farmers all took bets on how long we’d be here. After horses, sheep, cattle, a pig or two, chickens, rabbits, duck; we finally settled on goats. That and two large greenhouses that are the envy of the valley.

    It’s been 10 years now. It’s a bet that we won.The John Deere Rep now talks to us. We bought hay locally for several years, watching it go double over 8 years. We’ve found a source out of state where it stays constant and is packed in 50# bags.

    We can now go to the auction and not expect someone to lean over our shoulder and scoff.”Ya’know they dock your for tails on your sheep. Oh and black. those never bring a very good price”. We took the highest price at the auction that day.

    Yes, we women can do anything.

    Oh, and WE built a commercial kitchen from a 20′ storage container for the product we make with the milk our goats produce. Yes, you can do anything!

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  6. I quit going to farm shows. We had loan approval to buy baling equipment and even when I asked for help, no one was available. I drove 2 hrs to a different state to buy my equipment because the locals won’t wait on women. I’m an over 50 gray haired women and I’ve been putting up with this crap since I started farming 20 years ago. Even the feed mill closest to us make it clear it’s a bother to help women…unless they are attached to a man. It’s time the ag industry wakes up and realizes that women of all ages are the new face of farming, and we’re not leaving.

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  7. Don’t give up on your dreams because you will make them your life’s work. As the only girl on a college livestock judging team many years ago, I can speak from experience. it may be a rough road at times but that will only better prepare you for the challenges that lie ahead. I am proudly raising 3 girls with the same philosophy my dad use on me – if there is a job to be done, you do it and it doesn’t matter if you are male or female. It will take a while to soak in for some good old boys in the industry but women are great leaders, very organized, smart and just as passionate about feeding the world as men so keep up the good fight and don’t let someone else’s narrow mind restrict your hopes and dreams!

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  8. Don’t waste your energy and time on being a victim of sexism, it will only distract you from your very worthy goal. You create your destiny, no one else creates it. Speaking as woman of 50+ years I can tell you your life will be less complicated if you don’t wait for someone to acknowledge and validate you. If you want a tractor go pick one and buy it. Women have been farming since the dawn of time. If some vendors aren’t smart enough to realize this, maybe their lost commission will help them understand when they see you purchasing from their competitor. You didn’t mention any female sales reps being present at that show – that speaks volumes about changes that are needed in the industry.

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  9. As a mother of a young woman who has found her passion in Agriculture I must tell you I love your story! There are so many times I wish my daughter would’ve decided to follow a career in something less physically demanding, but when I see her come in from milking on the 400+ cow dairy where she works, and she is covered in… (Well, poo of course), I see the twinkle in her eye and the smile on her face. With that my mothers heart is full, because isn’t that what we all want for our children? To find their passion, to find what makes them happy!

    I commend you for bringing to light your experience at the farm show, and you know what I say about each and every one of those vendors?
    I say your loss!
    Your loss for not noticing a strong, smart exceptional young woman! A woman who has a passion in her heart to follow a path to be a agricultural advocate!
    I say your loss for not recognizing that in order to be a farmer with 50 years of dust under the belt, you need to start somewhere.
    It is so unfortunate that each of those “sales people” couldn’t see you for the amazing person you are!

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  10. Pingback: The "Farm Wife" - The Beef Jar

  11. This is great. Interestingly enough, I’ve found this to be the case within my own generation from women of my age. (30’s). Most of them are the “industry type”, which is fine by me (only so much room at the water trough), but they frown upon the interest and passion I have for farming. A lot of them complain about the farm and don’t want anything to do with the actual farm—just collecting the paychecks that their companies pay them. Little do they realize that us farm girls are paying their salaries. They become jealous, underestimate me, and roll their eyes at my ideas. Few years after being in business, I can say our business is doing great and only going to be getting better.

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  12. I LOVE your post. Growing up I was told I could be anything. That I worked harder than my brothers and the hired hand. I couldn’t get a summer job unless I could also help on the farm after hours (for no actual wage). BUT when I was 23 I was told I could basically ‘volunteer’ my time but I was no longer concidered for paid hire, or ever to have anything passed down (my brother never wanted to farm, and my other brother was deemed to sick to farm). So that day I took a male dominated job in the oil field. AND I rocked it. I was asked to come back farming when I married…

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  13. The odds are moreso against you if you weren’t born into a farming family. Being a woman puts you at less of a disadvantage than being from outside of a farming family. It’s too difficult to raise the capital to become a serious farmer without it being passed down through the family. I know many women who play a large part in their farming operation because they were born into it. But I know very few who made a living by farming without inheriting a serious amount of resources

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