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Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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Farm Mom – A View from Here

Note from Mica: With our America’s Farmers Farm Mom of the Year contest in full swing with over 170 submissions so far, I asked my good friend and colleague Tami Craig Schilling to write a guest post for the blog, reflecting on what it means to be a farm mom. Tami is a full-time Monsanto employee, farm wife and mom, community volunteer and mentor for many of her colleagues. She’s one of those women that other moms’ envy (including me), and has us constantly asking, “How does she do it all and make it look so easy?”

From left to right; Marcia Craig, Dorothy Dilliner, and Tami Craig-Schilling. Three generations of farm moms and wives.

At a recent farm show, several farm moms came to the Monsanto booth and commented “that they weren’t deserving of Farm Mom recognition” because they weren’t very involved in the farm. When I heard that I smiled because I know all too well that the little things a farm mom does and shrugs off really do make a difference.

If I had asked my grandma if she was a farmer or deserved a farm mom award, she’d probably have smiled and said that my grandpa was the farmer. She was his wife and a mom and did what she could to take care of things. But like so many farm women around Douglas County, Illinois and the entire country, Dorothy Dilliner was a special farm mom.

Dorothy was not the principal operator of the farm or the farm equipment. She didn’t do the marketing or even keep the books…but she was the most important person in my grandpa’s life to ensure his corn and beans ended up at the elevator throughout harvest. My grandma was the regular grain trucker up into her early 70s, sitting at the edge of the field in a tandem truck waiting for my grandpa to dump the combine hopper and make another round. Then she’d be off to the elevator to dump and start the process over day after day each harvest. From the time she became a farm mom to three children, she had them enrolled in 4-H and was a regular fixture at the county fairs as they proudly showed their livestock (and she never missed one of her granddaughter’s show days either).

My mom, Marcia Craig, continued Dorothy’s tradition, but invested her time in keeping the farm records, feeding livestock of all kinds and offering encouragement to my brother and me around the amazing act of raising living things for ourselves and for others. Before my dad would leave for the Olney Livestock sale barn on Tuesdays, my mom would make cheeseburgers, slap them on a recycled Styrofoam tray and wrap them in aluminum foil. When she heard the truck start and livestock trailer doors clang, she would head out the door and down the driveway to lightly toss the sandwiches into the truck cab. For the extra efforts she took, my dad would have the nourishment to buy and sell livestock, working into the evening. It was the little stuff back then, and it still is. And without my mom making the effort, the farm wouldn’t have been the same. And I wouldn’t be the same either.

I’m a farm mom of a different category—one who decided she wanted to explore the off-farm working world for benefits and personal desire. There are many farm wives and moms these days in this category who probably don’t think they fit as a Farm Mom award candidate either. But, you’re a farm mom if…

  • You’ve ever held dinner a couple hours after you planned to eat because a hose broke on the tractor
  • You’ve ever picked up a crank shaft, gear box, planter part, disk blade or any other mechanical item from the local tractor dealer.
  • You’ve ever hauled your kids to a 4-H or FFA meeting, telling them that this was an important part of growing up and knowing how to be a ag leader and good citizen.
  • You’ve ever gotten ready to go to a party, dinner or outing with your husband, but had a change of plans once he heard the weather forecast.
  • You’ve ever gone to bed wishing for the rain to come or the rain to stop so the seed planted yesterday could make it out of the ground.

If you’ve ever done those things and so much more around the farm and your community, you are a farm mom. There are no standard specifications for Farm Mom. We come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and backgrounds. We might work full-time on the farm with our father, dad, brother, friend or husband. We might work off-farm by day and come home to the farm at night or we might have retired and moved to town to let the next generation assume the role of farmer. Any and all of these Farm Mom categories or more are Farm Mom-worthy. They have made American agricultural the most productive in the world and built rural agrarian values into all those who they have impacted through their life.

Tami is a fifth generation agriculturalist who started her career at the age of three showing livestock and continues it today as Director of Technology Communications with Monsanto. She has served as a Monsanto sales rep and conservation tillage specialist and worked in customer operations. She is most proud of the three children that she and her husband Rodney raise on their corn, soybean and wheat farm in southern Illinois.

10 Responses to "Farm Mom – A View from Here"

  1. You summed it up totally Tami!! What a privilege it was to be raised on the Dilliner Farm with so much pride of the land that mom & dad showed. Many long hours with mom by dad’s side showed the strength they had to make the land productive. Besides the hard work they were always there for their children and grandchildren. Any farm wife that is standing beside her husband in the long hours and exhausting schedule deserves recognition of being a Farm Mom (especially grandma & your mom)!! God Bless the farmers and the “farm moms” of the world.

  2. Tami,

    I had to smile when I read your bullet points on what constitutes a “farm mom” — especially the last one. In 1998 when I was called to interview for a position at the new Monsanto facitily being built in Centralia, Illinois I was so uneducated about farming that my husband had me climb onto the back of his 4-wheeler so he could take me out and show me what a soybean plant looked like (up close). Well, I ended up getting that Monsanto job, and very soon I was that person going to bed at night either wishing it would rain…or wishing it would stop. Until you have actually participated in agricultural life in some manner, you don’t appreciate the impact it has on your life. I am so glad I have had the opportunity to work for Monsanto and learn how very important farmers and farm families are!

  3. Tami:
    I’ve been down this road as well when we lived on the farm and my parents did too. So true, yet the farm mom always seems to be reserved from accepting this compliment. Brings tears to my eyes, just reminising on the past and wondering how we all actually did get it accomplished. I worked off the farm and so did my mom, but when we were around, we were the truck driver, ran for parts, started milking while the guys were still getting field work done, ran the children to sports events or practice and pick them back up when it was over, feeling sad sometimes that we could not attend the sports event as we were home lending a hand, and still cooked and cleaned like a normal housewife would. Farm Moms should be very proud that someone is acknowledging them for “a job wel done!” Great article on your part!

    • Patty
      Thanks for the note…I too enjoyed walking down memory lane of my “growing up days”. I never thought I would live my mom’s life in so many ways…but I do and wouldn’t trade it – especially when I see my kids “get it” because they live on a farm.

      Take care.

  4. Fantastic ode to farm moms everywhere, past, present and future. Thank you for what you do here and for being a Farm Mom.

  5. Tami,
    To your list of what constitutes a farm wife, I think Roe would add- you are a farm wife if you have ever chased Cows off a road in High Heels and a dress. Mine always seemed to know when I was not around and she was headed to a meeting.
    Thanks for the great post, there are many ways to be a farm wife and all are important. They are what makes it possible for us to do what we do.


    Erika Forsbach

    Farms: Corn, Soybeans, Winter Wheat, and Grain Sorghum

    Savannah, TN

    “I am absolutely thrilled, excited and proud to have been chosen as the Farm Mom of the Southeast Region. I am sure there were many other well-deserving farm moms out there! It has always been our number one priority to provide our children with the best education and to encourage them to always strive to do the best of their capabilities, and when a child returns to the family farm after a good college education to carry on the tradition of a fifth generation in family farming and honors his mother with such loving words in this manner, I am deeply touched. It’s the ultimate compliment.” — Erika Forsbach

    Erika Forsbach is the backbone of Karl Forsbach Farms Incorporated located in Savannah, Tennessee. Her role in the family farm extends to every corner of the row grain operation. She often gets questioned about what consumes her time since both sons are out of school. Her reply, “maintaining detailed books,” does not even begin to cover her presence on the farm. My mother and father started farming in the early 1980s. They faced high interest rates, high land values, and fluctuating grain prices that required strong determination and support from both decision makers. Mom drove the tractor to help prepare the ground for planting, brought lunch and dinner to fields to keep the crew going, and perhaps most importantly, raised two boys that she is very proud of. Today, she doesn’t have to drive the tractor but her role is just as strong. Big decisions about where to construct pivots, what equipment is needed, and helping her son start out farming take up most of her time. She is also the chairman of Savannah’s renaissance committee, board member of the Chamber of Commerce, and travels to support the Tennessee Soybean Association and Farm Bureau events. She has a talent for decorating and volunteers her time to various community events. Erika Forsbach is a strong woman who has seen the tough times and the good times of farming. She’s a farming advocate and knows what it means to take a gamble in the river bottom. Her determination and work ethic are a direct reflection of what Karl Forsbach Farms Inc. has achieved today. As a family we joke that without our mom, dad would have given up many years ago. It’s beneficial that they make a good team because that is what takes for a family farm to endure. (nominated by Carl Forsbach)

    Vote for Erika to see her win AMERICA’S FARMERS MOM OF THE YEAR 2010!


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