Like parenting, farming high-stress, hard
On the Farm column
Most of you know that I am an organization director for the Farm Bureau, serving Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull counties. Quite frankly, the job can be hectic and crazy stressful. More often than not, I find myself with too many late nights and too many 15-hour days.
But with that comes a job that allows me to engage with the community, work with members to identify issues affecting an industry I hold near and dear to my heart, and coming up with ways to fix those issues — or at least try.
I get to share my passion for agriculture, educate our youth and consumers, and while it may be small, I do my best to make a positive difference in my community and that includes starting the conversation that many people are not comfortable talking about — and that includes me.
On top of working a full-time job, I am a wife and a momma to a 5- and almost 2-year-old, and I’m a woman who dreams of growing our little farm and having lots of cow-calf pairs to add to our chaos.
I had a busy week again last week, I was sick on top of it, and as I spent Friday finishing up a million tasks, I couldn’t wait to get home and crawl onto the couch with my kiddos for some quality time.
Anyone with kids want to guess how our Friday night went? Crying, tantrums, fighting, more crying, and finally me screaming at them. I threatened to take away every fun thing for the rest of their lives, and when I couldn’t take any more, they were put to bed.
As I folded laundry after putting them down, all of the things I have been stressed about and struggling with suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks, and I cried and cried. I felt guilty for being a working mom, frustrated that I don’t have the farm I so badly dream of, irritated that I don’t balance my home-work life better, and it’s my family who gets the short end of the stick, homesick because I haven’t spent much time down home with my family.
Why couldn’t I have been more understanding with them? They are little people with big emotions living in this chaotic world that I sometimes struggle with.
I then sneaked back in their rooms at the risk of waking the beasts and placed kisses on their foreheads and apologized for being a bad mom.
Later as I scrolled through Facebook, an article popped up at the perfect moment titled “Dear momma, you’re not doing it wrong, it’s just that hard.” After I read it and finally got myself together and the tears to stop flowing, I thought, “Wow, this really applies to farmers, too.”
Farmers give so much of themselves to this life they love, which directly contributes to the health of the industry, making it number one in Ohio. They face many factors that are out of their control, making it even more stressful. Weather has been a huge factor for stress this year, with planting season being delayed, and now praying that harvest yields will be high, and that prices improve.
Farmers often spend long hours working alone, which can directly affect their farm family.
We live in a high-paced, high-stress world. Did you know that farmers today have the highest suicide rate of any occupation in America? It’s about five times higher than the general population and twice that of veterans, according to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That same year, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that farmers also have the highest rate of death due to stress-related conditions, ranging from heart disease and hypertension to ulcers and nervous disorders.
Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services, The Ohio State University alongside several others ag entities have partnered to provide resources to the rural community through the “Got Your Back” campaign.
The website provides farmers and farm families with where to find help, family support, other resources and even resources for citizens of the community to recognize and intervene when they see someone struggling — and ya’ll, we all struggle.
I shared my experience from Friday because I spent an hour thinking there was something wrong with me.
Thank God, I have mom friends who shared their struggles with me and made me realize I am not a terrible mom, that being a mom is truly that hard, and that we all struggle.
Social media always shows the perfect little families, and not the struggles and triumphs we face. Same goes for farming.
You are not alone. And remember: You are more than your farm.
Orahood is an Ohio Farm Bureau organization director serving Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull Counties. She can be reached at aora hood@ ofbf.org