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Farm wives do whatever it takes

Farm wives do whatever it takes


Women truly can do it all

In reading obituaries, I especially enjoy the ones where the husband and wife operate the farm as a team.

It’s no surprise to anyone around here that women drive tractors and operate grain carts.

One hard-working woman was Darlene Whalen of Wolbach. Darlene, who was 85 when she died, married Lloyd in 1954. “After their marriage, she spent most of her life as a farmer’s wife and mother to her children,” her obituary said. “She helped on the farm milking cows, raising chickens, planting and harvesting the crops and raising cattle.”

Another earnest farm wife was Elizabeth Grudzinski of Ashton. “Betty had a passion for farm life and was involved in every aspect of it,” her obituary read. “Her personal joys were raising pigs, milking cows, raising chickens and baking the most wonderful big cinnamon rolls for her family.”

Jeanne Mettenbrink of Grand Island got married in 1956. “She became the perfect farmer’s wife, working alongside her husband daily, helping him with everything,” stated the obituary for Jeanne, who died at the age of 83.

Women clearly aren’t afraid to get down and dirty.

Claudia Obermiller of Farwell was never a city person. She was “always a deep-hearted country girl and very proud to be a farm wife and livestock producer,” her obituary stated. “She enjoyed being outside with her cattle, horses and chickens. Her greatest passion was raising her purebred kittens for many years.”

Pauline Hemmer of St. Libory grew up on a farm. “She was very good at driving teams of horses to do field work,” her obituary stated. She and her husband eventually made their home on a farm near St. Libory. “They worked hand-in-hand from morning until the time they went to bed, doing chores, milking cows, working in the fields and raising kids,” her obituary stated. “Pauline remained on the farm with her oldest son, Jerry, until she left this earth” at the age of 94.

Jean and Gene Hawley started a dairy while raising three small children.

“A new grade-A dairy barn in 1969 was Jean’s station in life for the next 30 years,” stated the obituary of the Arcadia woman. “She didn’t seem to mind, as it was her way to contribute and she full-well knew the value of what she was doing. She was so sad the day the milk cows were no longer needed and were sold. The farm had grown to over 1,000 acres.”

Some women have absolutely no idea they’re going to wind up living in the country.

Norma and Bob Husmann, for instance, made their home just north of Chapman. “Though she never planned to be a farmer’s wife, she quickly adapted and was a strong and loving partner to Bob for the next 64 years.”

Women are good at adapting.

Evelyn “Louise” Fieldgrove was wed in 1953. “Once married, she became a full-time homemaker as milking cows was just more than she could handle.” But she was able to handle 11 children.

East of Cairo, Evelyn Panowicz “helped on the farm while nurturing her children. She raised chickens and was an avid gardener, canning much of what she grew. She enjoyed cultivating her flower garden and relished the results of her hard work.”

Nobody multitasks like a woman.

Not only did Evelyn raise chickens, but she also was an exceptional seamstress, creating bridesmaid dresses and outfits of all kinds.

Delores Valasek, who died in May, not only sold Sarah Coventry jewelry but she and her children also raised and dressed chickens for the entire Palmer community.

Louise and Jack McIntyre of Wolbach got married on May 28, 1950, “when the school year had ended and the corn had been planted.”

Louise and Jack “farmed and ranched together with gusto for the next 69 years,” stated Louise’s obituary. “Proud and happy to be a ‘farm wife,’ Louise enthusiastically cooked the family’s meals from scratch, gardened and preserved, cared for barnyard animals, dropped everything to race to a nearby town for equipment parts, and organized family cattle drives on horseback. In addition to her many daily and seasonal tasks, she was a full partner with Jack in growing their agricultural operations. All of this took place while she lovingly raised six children over a period of 36 years.”

Besides all of her outdoor work, Louise “taught her four daughters everything she knew about homemaking, which was a lot.”

Some men possess many skills. But I don’t know very many who can help run a farm, cook and sew a bridesmaid dress — probably all at the same time.

Jeff Bahr is a reporter for The Independent. He may be reached at

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