On Thursday my social media and favourite ABC radio programs were brimming with messages surrounding International Women’s Day. All the uplifting quotes, photos and stories got me thinking about my role as a women living on a rural property and the role of other generations of women in my family.
As a child I don’t remember ever being discouraged from trying anything based on my gender but there were certain farm tasks such as slaughtering sheep and welding that were just never considered to be women’s work. As a child I also remember my mum and grandmother both working on the property when necessary, mostly helping out with sheep work. The rest of their time was spent maintaining extensive gardens, keeping food on the table, raising and educating children and generally providing comfortable homes for their families.
My mother-in-law is a woman who can still shear a sheep, press a bale of wool, dispatch feral animals and do most other farming tasks that come her way. She also cooks, sews, works her sheepdogs and maintains a home.
Following in the footsteps of the older women in my family, my time is divided between paddock work and jobs closer to home. When it is needed I happily help out with sheep work, checking tanks and miscellaneous bits and pieces. The rest of my time is spent keeping food on the table and in the pantry, packing tuckerboxes and smokos, growing a garden, maintaining our home and of course, raising children. Photography and food projects fit somewhere in between.
Perhaps it’s an old fashioned belief but I don’t consider these domestic tasks as being lesser jobs than the traditionally male tasks such as building fences, driving machinery or installing pipelines. Our business and our life would be vastly different if there was nobody at home to keep the washing pile under some control and the biscuit tin (mostly!) full. So, while I am all for equality, big dreams and smashing glass ceilings I am also proud of my role on our property and I feel that it is a valuable part of our family and farming situation.
I encourage our daughter every day to pursue her goals and dreams. She loves the outdoors and farm work but she also loves to write, dance, draw, sing and daydream. I am delighted that she is practical and doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty but is also creative and enjoys the gentler side of being a girl.
I know some rural women who rarely venture into the paddock and others who spend the majority of their time doing farm work. Farming businesses are diverse and women take on different roles depending on their skills, strengths, location, family dynamics and financial situation.
If you are still with me you might like this piece recently written by my cousin Lisa Shannon. Lisa and I grew up on almost neighbouring properties and she has experienced the highs and lows of being a woman in an isolated and male dominated part of the world.
Are you doing traditional women’s work or perhaps like most women a mixture of roles?
Is some kind of domestic order important to you and your family?
Happy Sunday, friends x