Friday, July 6, 2012

Final Farmer's Wife Friday--And a REAL farmer's wife!

I can't believe that this is the final regular edition of Farmer's Wife Friday. Carla and I have some more progress posts planned. Because our project is not really finished. Not until our quilts are actually put together and quilted!

This week, I am foregoing the last letter of the book in favor of a very special guest blogger. Grandma G, as she is known to the blogging community, and I became good friends beginning a couple of years ago. Her daughter is Jessica Jones of How About Orange fame, the same Jessica Jones that designs absolutely fabulous fabric--some of my all-time favorite lines.
 Anyway. They carry on the most interesting and witty conversations in the comment section of Jessica's blog. I was intrigued to know more about Grandma G, wondering who she was exactly.  So I clicked on her link, which took me to her blog. I found out she is Jessica's mother, not her grandmother, and lives "down on the farm in Minnesota." And since Mark comes from southern Minnesota, I emailed to find out if she lived anywhere near where he grew up. Turns out she does--about forty miles! Several years ago on a trip to Minnesota, we met in the coffee shop in town close to her farm. She was the first blogging friend I met in real life, and honestly, that first meeting felt kind of like a blind date--where you are each wondering what the other person will really be like--and whether you will actually like each other. And horrors--what if you don't?? How awkward.

Fortunately, we had a great time at lunch, and then Mark and I drove out to her farm. We have been getting closer and closer ever since. Grandma G and I seem to have very compatible personalities--we cherish creative time alone, don't feel the need to do a lot of chattering--in fact, while we text each a lot, we never talk on the phone. And we're both completely good with that. She conquered the infamous Amy Butler Weekender Bag with precision.

And then she listened to me as I whined and complained through each and every step when I attempted the same bag. I would never have completed the Weekender if not for her.

We each have an adorable granddaughter, just a couple of months apart in age, each with curly brown hair. And we each think they make the best little models for some of our projects:
 Grandma G's adorable model
My adorable model (with the Weekender...)

So this week, we have a letter from a present-day farmer's wife!

I feel extra-honored to be invited to guest post on Cindy's blog, since I'm not a quilter!  I am, however, a for-real farmer's wife, so I guess that qualifies me to toss in my 2¢-worth.  Cindy asked me for “some insight from a contemporary farmer’s wife”, so here goes…..
I grew up on a farm.  In fact, I’ve lived on a farm for all but about five years of my life.  I love living on a farm, and as far as I was concerned, that was ‘the only’ place to live, so naturally I married a farmer.  I love being outdoors with the wide-open spaces and the privacy of no neighbors close enough to see me going out in my pajamas in the mornings to feed my cats or whatever else I don’t happen to want to be seen doing.  I love the fresh, smog-free air and the green and growing things all around.  I love the peace and quiet, especially at night with little to no traffic going by, and being able to see the stars with no street lights in the way.  I love watching the crops grow every year and seeing a bountiful harvest come in.  I even love getting up in the big machinery and sensing the power, although I don’t drive much more than a big lawnmower these days.
(I obsessively sorted the blocks in they order they appeared in the letters of the book...)
What’s not to love?  Well, there are some things… like the fact that farming is a gamble… a big gamble, depending mainly on the weather.  It’s heartbreaking to see a beautiful crop crushed to the ground by hailstones, or dry up because it doesn’t rain in time.  Prices are a gamble, too… you can bet that the machinery is going to cost a fortune, but you can’t bet on getting a good price for the crops all the time.  And then there are the long hours, usually seven days a week.  Being married to a dairyman, as I am, compounds that, because you can’t just up and take a vacation from milking cows.  They MUST be milked.  And sometimes that fresh air doesn’t smell the best, like when “fertilizer” (a.k.a. liquid manure) is being spread on the fields. 
(The last block in the block--not happy with the color choice on this one...)
Farming nowadays is so much different than it was at the time The Farmer’s Wife was written!  The machinery is humongous.  Planters can plant 24 or more rows at a time.  No one throws bales by hand anymore, as they’re all handled by machines.  Tractors, etc., now have cabs and air conditioning, and they’ve also gone electronic.  They have computers to monitor everything… and get this - tractors even have auto-steer, so the farmer can nap while he’s driving… umm… I mean plant his rows in exactly the right place every time.  The cows are milked by machines and their production is monitored by computers.
(But I really like the orange and white block!)
So you would think that with all the modern conveniences farmers have it pretty easy.  But they buy or rent more land to plant more crops to make more money to pay for the expensive equipment and still have some money to live on.  They milk more cows, and milk them three times a day.  So the hours are just as long, even though not as strenuous.  Essentially it takes a workaholic to make a good farmer… and a lot of patience to be married to one.

Of course farm wives have it a lot easier these days, too, what with all the modern conveniences.  But many farm wives are working outside the home and/or alongside their husbands, plus raising kids and a garden, etc., so their lives are just as busy as back in “the old days”.
I still love living on a farm and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.  Would I want my daughter to marry a farmer?  Well, that’s kind of a moot point, because she’s already married.  I just wanted her to marry a good man that she’d be happy with no matter where they lived, and she’s done just that.  And they live in a very big CITY. 

Thanks, Cindy, for inviting me to guest post.  I’m so impressed that you and Carla have completed all those blocks!  I can’t wait to see what the quilt looks like when you get it all put together!

Thanks so much for this present-day insight! It was a pleasure having you here today.

Now (drum-roll, please!), here they are. All 111 blocks, in the order that they appeared with the corresponding letters:
Make sure you stop by to see all of Carla's blocks. Isn't it amazing how different our blocks look? That's one of my favorite things about quilting. I'm seeing Grandma G soon--I'll be spending some time trying to turn her into a quilter. And maybe some of her bag-making expertise will rub off on me!


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Elizabeth Dackson said... #

Congratulations!!! I am so impressed that you and Cindy have finished all of these blocks, that is so amazing! And I love that you had Grandma G give the modern farmer's wife perspective today, that was definitely fun to read about :)

Susan said... #

Oh, how wonderful do those blocks look!! You are also going to have a family heirloom to love and cherish when you finally put these together! Thanks for sharing Grandma G's insights too! So interesting!

Anita said... #

Congrats, they look so good and you're so organized! Can't wait to see them put together and quilted :)

http://thankfullga447 said... #

Farming is a difficult career love the interview. The quilt is beautiful, I have this quilt on my bucket list.

Lucy | Charm About You said... #

Oh Cindy it looks fabulous! I really like the colours in the last block (and of course the orange one too!!). The interview was a great idea and I loved hearing her story and perspective.
Looking forward to seeing you and Carla finish up but I'll be sad it's finished. How are on earth are you going to put them together and will it be the world's biggest quilt?! x

giddy99 said... #

It's a wondrous quilt! So amazing! And a very interesting guest post! :)

Grandma G said... #

Aha!! Now I know why you're coming... you're gonna try to convert me! That should be fun. ;)

I've been wondering something about this quilt for a while, and seeing all the blocks together reminded me to ask. Maybe my non-quilterness will show up here, but why are there 111 blocks? Obviously they're not going to make a nice rectangle... so do you put the extras on the back... or what??? :)

Patti said... #

Congratulations on finishing all the blocks;they look spectacular together. Loved reading Grandma G's view of farm life as well.While I live in a city, we are in the middle of farm country and every conversation begins and ends with discussion of the weather and how it is affecting crops!

The Luedtke Family said... #

Norah and I just enjoyed looking at all of the completed blocks. We saw trees, baskets, spools, snowflakes, windmills, pinwheels, flowers, and she liked the dark ones! Her comment was, "I want to sew those".

What a great quilt this will be! I've enjoyed following along on FWF. I especially enjoyed the last 2 interviews.

Becky and

beaquilter said... #

wow! you finished them all! that's awesome, now make a mono chromatic one :-) fun to have a real farmers wife post here..... I feel for farmers.... it's tough. also because of their food contracts with the big companies like monsanto etc...

Needled Mom said... #

I enjoyed reading the modern farmer's wife's words. Although I, too, live in the city, I know of what she writes. It is NOT an easy life and is full of the unknown.

Congratulations on finishing the blocks. I can't wait to see the whole quilt.

Carla said... #

What a lovely post, Cindy. I enjoyed the interview very much and always look forward to running across one of Grandma G's clever comments. Your blocks look so fabulous and it was fun to see them all in order...unlike my chaos!!

FlourishingPalms said... #

Another great guest post! Her autobiography is a good reminder of our different circumstances and how we share living differently on the same earth. It was fun to see how you put each block into its corresponding page in the book. And all the blocks together? What can I say? I'm beyond mere words. This whole project has been a testament to dedication, and you have it with a capital "D." In my book, there's a five-star rating next to your name!

verykerryberry said... #

What a wonderful achievement for you and Carla! It was an ingenious touch to end with modern farmer's wife!

Mrs Flying Blind... said... #

Wow congratulations Cindy, and Carla - your patience and commitment beat mine hands down - I cannot wait to see these blocks all pieced.

Lovely to hear Grandma G's take on the farmer's life xxx

Archie The Wonder Dog said... #

Congratulations on finishing your wonderful blocks! I'm looking forward to seeing how you arrange them and I loved hearing from a modern farmer's wife!

Jen said... #

Congrats! They look amazing. It was so much fun to follow along and remember all the great letters you blogged about.

felicity said... #

BRAVO! What an undertaking but with absolutely breathtaking results. I can't wait to see these blocks put together.

Question that you may already have answered - how did you choose your colours for each block?

Margaret said... #

Awesome job. As for Granny G, I live in dairy country in northern Michigan. I am not married to a farmer but all my neighbors are farmers. I am married to the man who repairs and installs your milking equipment. He works for a company just just down the road. He is on call 24/7 and with milking three times a day he can get called at any time. He works long hard hours but he loves working on the farms. I love living in farm country and yes it is not so pleasant when they spread manure on all four fields around my house.

Carla said... #

Good for you! They look fabulous : )

Katy Cameron said... #

Woohoo, they look great, well done!

Quiltedpony said... #

I met you at the 2012 Spring Bass Lake Retreat. I was sitting behind your table making the scrappy little purses, working on the scrappy foundation quilt blocks, lots of scrappy things. You might remember me as the one with all the fabric and stuff. hehehe Anyway, I found your blog and have really enjoyed it; reading it, the many ideas and seeing all the links. Thanks for sharing!! It makes me feel so much better to see so many others out there that have so many projects going at one time. Laura
p.s. I'm a farmer's wife also, and grandma to 12.

Amanda Jean said... #

wow! those 111 blocks are amazing. my hat is off to you, my friend!

i loved reading the guest post by a modern day farm wife. being related to farmers, i found myself nodding my head a lot. what a great wrap up post for the blocks!

i hope you are enjoying the rest of your vacation! i miss you already and i'm soooooo thankful that i got to retreat with you this past weekend. i'm so thankful to be able to call you a friend.

quiltedpony said... #

Oh gosh, my bad!! Earlier I sort of introduced myself so you might remember how we met, but I didn't comment on how lovely your 111 blocks are. They are wonderful!

CitricSugar said... #

You've MET GrandmaG? Wow. Congrats on being done the blocks stage of your quilt! I'm very curious to see how you are going to put all these together...

Aw, no more Farmer's Wife Fridays... :-(

Jennifer said... #

I'm in absolute awe of your blocks. They are just beautiful! I can't wait to see this quilt finished... it's going to be an heirloom for sure!

Jennifer :)

Terriaw said... #

What a wonderful post! I love learning more about Grandma G and the life of a modern farmer. I can relate to many of those same things, loving the fresh air, wide open spaces, peace and quiet. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

Your 111 blocks look so fabulous! What a great accomplishment!

Shocking Hocking said... #

wow - that looks sensational - I haven't picked up my farmers wife for ages....fabulous guest post :)

Mama Pea said... #

Absolutely stunning. I love it. Well done, my friend!