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?”
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.