The doubtful look on his face said it all. I sure he was thinking ‘they’ve sent a girl to do a man’s work’. As he skeptically asked me questions about my knowledge and experience, I could see the wheels turning in his mind. Would he give me a chance? Or would he look for a more capable farm hand? I kept my fists balled tight in anticipation as he deliberated. Finally, he said, “Let’s see what you’ve got.”
The summer of my sophomore year, I decided it was time for me to get a real job. Babysitting always helped to put money in the gas tank, but college was approaching fast, and I knew that I wasn’t close to being financially prepared. When I started looking for a job I naturally applied at places that interested me. My main focus was farms. I was practically brought up on my uncle’s farm, and was going to 4-H meetings long before I started preschool, so I thought that working on a farm would be a perfect choice.
Our community is full of farming folks, so I knew that it was only a matter of time after I spread the word that I was looking for a job as a farmhand before I would get a bite. One of the teachers at school called me up one day and said that her husband had a farm, and he was looking for someone to help during haying season. I jumped on the chance right away. Within days I was out on the farm, determined to get the job. As soon as I stepped out of the car I could tell that my teacher had neglected to tell her husband the details about who was coming to work that day. “Are you Sam?” he asked with a confused expression. “Yes, I am.” I said, hopefully sounding more confident than I felt. The farm was bigger to the farms I was used to, and slightly intimidating, but the view was fantastic. I knew that I would love the place, if only I could convince the owner that I could work just as hard as a boy.
That day I put a fair share of sweat into my work: stacking hay, feeding animals, milking cows, learning how all the elevators and feeding systems worked, and cleaning out calf pens. I learned alongside another farm hand, Matt. He was a twenty-one year old guy with years of experience and bail lifting muscles that I didn’t have. We talked as we worked, and I learned more about the farm, the owner, and the other guys that worked there. Notice I said other guys. Yes, that’s right. The owner had never hired a girl before, and I was determined to break that trend.
By quitting time, I was thoroughly exhausted and quite overwhelmed, but I knew that I had done my best. As I was taking off my barn shoes the owner approached me with a calendar and said, “When can I expect you back?” I was so giddy I could have jumped up and hugged him, but of course, that wouldn’t have been the most “farm hand”-like decision, so I settled for a big smile and said, “How ’bout tomorrow?” He gave a nod of approval and explained how I should write down my hours, what my starting pay was,etc, but I barely heard a word. My head was filled with my own little victory chorus.