Too many responsibilities, environmental and social influences, and stressors placefarm women at high risk for depressive symptoms (link to research article). When guests come to our farm, they often are jealous of the slower paced, stress free lifestyle that we live. You’re so lucky! They tell us. We wish we could live a life like this. Of course as soon as you ask them if they want to join in chopping wood or butchering, they often decline in order to take a nap while you go do the chore. And good for them, that’s what a relaxing visit is supposed to be, but unfortunately that’s not what farmlife is lol!!
Farming is actually one of the most dangerous occupations in the world-more dangerous than a police officer or a pilot. Women seem to be at a much higher risk ofdepression in the farming world as they try to juggle all the roles of mother, wife, farmer, marketer, accountant, risk manager, and so on that are required by farm life. Farms also tend to be isolated and the social relationships that one has in city life is cut down to sometimes nobody. This is one of the reasons we decided to start a guest ranch. We were sick of never having people over. We’ve also put more effort into fostering relationships with our neighbors. Women also tend to take on more and more of the responsibilities on the farm so that their men (husbands/sons) can have off the farm jobs and make more money. This can lead to increase in fatigue and isolation.
Financial stress is probably one of the biggest predictors of depression in farmwomen (well, anyone really). And boy is there a lot of financial stress in farming. Unlike other product production, you can’t force your chickens to lay eggs or your geese to hatch or your cows to put on weight. You can’t force your crops to grow. And the time it takes to farm makes it super difficult to have enough time to find customers for when everything actually is working (and that never happens-at least not everything at the same time, there’s always SOMETHING going wrong on a farm). Then when you do have customers, they often balk at paying the price of your product because everyone is so used to purchasing food that is subsidized by the federal government and is being sold at below the cost of producing it. Sigh….not that I’m depressed or anything.
But seriously, it’s hard to live on a farm. It’s wonderful too, but if you want to farmthen you need to look at the realities of farm life and you need to really plan on how to deal with the stresses that are there. How are you going to keep yourself from being lonely? How are you going to keep from being overwhelmed with all your responsibilities? How are you going to keep from stressing over the fact that your ten year old is driving a tractor that is responsible for farmer deaths all over the country? You can’t be a helicopter parent when you’re raising a farm kid. Living on a farmcan be the most wonderful or the most horrible thing in the world. It all depends on how you look at it.