"A lot of our friends can't imagine working with their husbands. We have a fantastic working relationship because what he enjoys doing, I don't. And what I enjoy doing is really not high on his list. I like mindless work. I like to get in a tractor and just go. I don't want to be bothered by bells and whistles and, and having to consciously think of things. And he likes that. So, division-wise, physically, of course, if it's something physical, he's definitely doing it. But he does the planting of the corn and the row crop with the planter. I disc ahead of him and he plants the corn. He discs ahead of me, and I drill the beans…
     "With the drill, our drill is 7½ inches wide. It's a 30-foot drill. You fill it and it holds approximately 72, 50-pound bags of soybean seed at one time. You fill it and you drive. And you get to the end and you didn't have to raise it and turn around. But I have, I have no chemicals going on at that time. I have air pressure going on. You turn around and make sure your chains are running and watch that.
     "But I like mindless work. He likes technical work. So it's always been a very good division. He could fix things. He's not necessarily electrical, or engine-wise not probably his strong suit, but welding and fixing things, he's great. I can't fix anything. But I have a great ear and can tell if it sounds different. And I'll stop and [say,] 'You better come listen to this. This sounds different. I don't know where it's coming from.' I know I can't fix anything so I better stop before something breaks. And it's worked out really well. Another really interesting thing is that people don't think of this – small hands. Men have large hands and their hands don't fit places that a woman's do. So I can do a lot of things there that he can't. I may not be able to get it as tight as he does but I can definitely get it on there. And as far as a combine goes, I can fit up and over the rotor when they can barely stick their head so it works…
     "I honestly believe it's unusual for people to get along in the farming as well as we do. He's, I was taking some supper to a friend who had surgery. And something was said about the wells, and she said – now that Anthony was gone – she said, 'Who did you get to lay your pipe?'
     "And I said, 'Oh, David and I still do it.'
     "And she said, 'And you don't fight?'
     "'Why would we fight?' And she relayed a story how she tried to help her husband once, and she did it wrong. I said, 'Well, you know what? If he yells at me, I'm probably not going to help him do it the next year! And he's just going to be in trouble, so – .' Well, he's not a yeller, you know. Not to say that occasionally things don't go well. That happens but we get along real well in the workforce…"
[Question:] "Do you consider yourself a feminist?"
     "Oh, no! Oh, No! No, but by the same token, I don't – No, I do not consider myself a feminist at all. But by the same token, don't tell me I can't do something until I've tried to do it. Yeah, I enjoy having a gentleman open a door for me. I enjoy being treated like a female. I am not going to – The greatest thing in the world that we can do and you guys can't, I mean, let's face it, you guys are stuck! You will never have a child. We can do that. So why would I want to be? Why do I, why would I want to be either way? I don't want to think I'm better or you're better. But there's very little that, if I truly wanted to do, I don't think I could do. But, don't label me a feminist…
     "I don't really know a whole lot of women that do as much of the farming as I do. But we have our own way about us. We can't muscle something. I can't muscle that silly thing into place. So you learn to get by. But you also learn to – I honestly believe women take things much more, much slower, and much more easy. We can't fix it.
     "I mean, I name the combines, you know. I'm out there, and I pat her on the forehead and I tell her she's a good girl. And, you know, you can tell it's really pushing to get up that hill and do what she's supposed to… It used to be Millie, and now it's Helga. Millie was, was old. Millie was old and she was a Millie. I tried to name it Bertha, the new one, she's big. She's bulky. I tried to name her Bertha, but one of the guys had a drying fan named Bertha so I couldn't name her Bertha. So, it's Helga. She's big. Probably not quite as much personality as Millie. Millie you had to really baby along to get her to go just that next season – just one more season, you know. What starts off and you think, OK, it needs to last five seasons and you start pushing that tenth or eleventh season with something you knew wasn't going to make it five! Women tend to baby things. 'Just a little longer.' Helga's just a big brute, but she, she's a good girl, too… Guys treat it like a piece, it's a piece of, it's something to get the job done. We're going to live in it for a while. I'm going to treat it nice and call it a nice name and, you know, give her treats every now and then. But I think that's the difference in men and women and farming."

Heather Derr – Women on the Farm


Other Excerpts from Heather Derr’s Interview:

Their "Moderate Size" Farm
Government Subsidies
Choosing to Farm
Raising Kids for Export
Drugs in Rural America
The Miracle of Growing Plants
"Roughing" Weeds
Farmers are Conservationists
Using GPS Tools
Her First Tractor
Computers on the Farm