Women in Beef: Marnie Caldwell
What I Am by Marnie Caldwell
What I am is as much a product of my mother as of my father. Most people in agriculture will say they learned the trade from their father. My Momma kind of threw that notion to the side. My mother was a stay at home Mom. And while that title for many implies staying at home and raising children, for us it simply meant we were drug from one farming event to the next. The seasons dictated where we "hung out". In the spring, we played in the lambing barn while my Mom took care of the sheep. In the summer, we played in the bed of a truck, shaded by the trees along the hay fields my Mom raked. In the fall we had chute side sword fights with sorting sticks on castrating and de-horning days, while Mom doled out vaccines and worked calves. As we got older, farming became less of a spectator sport and a whole lot more of "hey, come over here and do this." My sister and I were the oldest of our clan, so we graduated to these responsibilities sooner than our brother and our younger cousins. I know that it was because of my Mother's hard work that my Dad saw no difference between my sister and I and our brother. He only saw that our legs were long enough to reach the clutch.
I can remember the first time my Dad set us loose on our own doing field work. My sister and I were around 12 and 10 and Dad had two haybines and a big hay field. He took us each twice around the field and left us to it, while he went and moved all the other equipment in place. I don't know where my brother and cousins were, probably antagonizing a cat some where, at least it wasn't us. Since then I have worked for several different outfits, and while at first they may have thought "oh, this gal won't last long at all". I'd like to think that I changed a few perceptions about women in agriculture and I hope that I am teaching my daughters that anything is possible. I hope that they are learning that you don't have to complain and make a fuss to get attention, just do your job and do it well, soon enough they'll all stand up and take note. Women aren't as physically equipped for this job as our cowboy counter parts but my Momma taught me that effort trumps strength every day of the week.