The snow is beginning to disappear and the flowers are starting to come out of the ground. Up here in Wisconsin the weather is slowly starting to warm up. We're expecting sunshine and 60's all week! For me, that means gardening season is right around the corner. My daffodils and iris' are starting to come up and bloom, and I'm working on building a retaining wall to help hold one of my flower beds in.
As much as I love being outside and playing in the soil, warmer weather means seeing less of Darren. His job takes him across the Southern and Central parts of Wisconsin servicing planters and installing new technology. The installing portion of the job started after Christmas—fortunately those installs were done in heated sheds! Now as things start warming up, all farmers are starting to pull things out and get them ready for planting, which often means Darren is starting to do installs outside and sometimes in dirt floor sheds.
Being a typical farm boy, Darren has just a few pairs of jeans, a handful of company shirts, and lots of socks. And these aren't fancy Justin or Buckle brand jeans, these are $25 boot leg style jeans from Farm & Fleet—his favorite store. When we started dating back in our early college days, Darren LOVED the big and wide, white washed Farm & Fleet jeans with a holder for your hammer. To be quite honest, I had never seen a pair of these as my dad had an actual tool belt he would strap on his waist to carry tools. I thought Darren was such a nerd with a hammer holder in his jeans ! During one of our Farm & Fleet date nights in college we stopped by the jean section and I convinced him to buy these nice, $30 straight legged jeans that didn't include a strap to hold his hammer. And he hasn't looked back to those other jeans since!
The trick with those jeans is that while they look nice to me, and to his customers when he visits their farm to sell or service something, he still needs them to be practical for work.
Darren comes home every day absolutely filthy, covered in dirt from head to toe. We're talking looks like he's gotten a dark tan after sunbathing in Mexico for two weeks dark (which is not possible—have you seen Darren's fair skin?)! Some days he's so dirty he strips at the back door and walks his clothes straight to the washer. It reminds me of the days as a child when my sister and I would play in the yard after a big rain and our mom would make us strip at the back door and then hose us off. But since Darren is an adult, he's trusted to walk himself to the shower and not touch anything as he gets there so I don't have to hit him with a hose before entering the house. (:
Because he only has a few pairs of jeans and a handful of company shirts, I'm doing a small load of laundry every day. Fortunately, he designates one to two pairs of jeans and a few of his dirtier shirts as his "install clothes" every spring. The shirts are stained with dirt and the jeans have holes in them—most of the time in the knee, but sometimes in the butt, too!
With all of those holes, I've been trying this year to patch them up before they get too bad in the hopes that he can make it through the rest of planting before having to buy new jeans. The system is simple: buy new jeans in June, the old jeans become work jeans and the new jeans stay nice. Come planting, the worst work jeans are turned into install jeans first and we cycle through those until they're bad enough to be tossed—hopefully the cycle lasting until June when install and planting season is over.
My favorite part about the work jeans Darren comes home in is what I'll find in the pockets after they've been washed. A few weeks ago I shared a photo on the zip ties I found in the washer in a Facebook post on my personal page. It was so fun to read other people's comments on the post with things they'd found in their husband's pants. My favorites included box cutters and bolts!
It can be hard going through planting with Darren so busy. Most day's he's up before the sun and home after sunset, which leads to a lot of me time—also known as cleaning and binge reading a James Patterson book. All farmers wives know this lifestyle and some even happily celebrate being a "planting widow" every year. There's something fun and romantic about the eagerness you have waiting for your husband to come home and having a hot dinner waiting for him and sharing updates from each others day. Or getting his favorite snacks and making his favorite cookies for him to pack in his lunches everyday.
Being a planting widow is definitely hard and can feel like it's never going to end at times, but this is one of my favorite times of the year. It's my annual reminder of how hard working my husband and others in the industry are. It's a time for pause, reflection and gratitude for not just those in the industry, but the other significant others and their families that are patiently waiting for their farmers to come home. Even if more time is spent making sure things like jeans and lunches are put together for my farmer, I know I'm blessed to get to live this kind of life.