Your comments on the farming blog I did over the weekend are interesting. Some women loved the beasts and said it was a good job women didn't go to market as we would like to make pets of them all; others said that it was a prejudice to discourage women from going. So I thought I would tell you what I feel is the situation regarding women and farming.
I can only speak for the countryside around North Yorkshire, where we live - but I suspect the same applies to all rural areas. There are a few women who attend the Auction Marts now, because there are some women who farm themselves, or are in partnership with their husbands; but as I see it the definition of roles in farming remains the same as it has done for generations. Maybe it is changing a little, but that change is slow.
And the roles seem to be divided thus:-
The man works the land, feeds the stock, sells and buys, maintains the machinery, does the heavy work around the farm.
The woman 'keeps house', cooking the meals, generally keeping the household in order, rearing the children, perhaps keeping hens or something along these lines.
You may well read this and feel it cannot possibly be still like this, it is all too archaic. But having talked to our Insurance Broker, who travels around many farms in the area this seems to be his view:-
Prices are low a lot of the time and the price of straw, silage and hay is usually high so there is often little profit to be made. From that profit the machinery of the farm - the tractors, the balers, the cattle equipment, as well as the vet's fees - all these have to be paid before there is any spare cash. Our Broker feels that this is one reason why the women round here no longer want to marry a farmer.
There is rarely spare money for dishwashers, modern kitchen equipment, big holidays, nice furniture and the like.
Now, whether this is true or not I don't know. But what I can tell you is that our farm is surrounded by farmers who are not married. Lovely men in their forties or early fifties who just have never found a wife. In most cases the parents are still alive but I look at these lovely men and think that in a few years time they are going to be on their own. Also I do know of two local young men in their twenties who thought they had found the right girl, only to be told by the girl that they would only marry them if they came out of farming, as it was too hard a life.
It is a sad situation - and I really can't begin to think of a solution. Any ideas?