Now, she reaches out to others lacking the knowledge or confidence to stipulate conservation practices on the family farmland, through WCL. Their comments below, from a WCL meeting, reflect their conservation concerns about the farmland that’s now their responsibility:

  • “My husband died in 1991; he did not teach me a thing about the farm, and I want to learn more about it.”
  • “I used to be my dad’s helper as a girl, but he never told me why I was doing what he told me to do. Now he’s passed away, and it’s been a long haul learning which seed to buy, which fertilizers, weed control, etc., to buy. It’s now my land, and I want to make intelligent farming decisions.”
  • “My brother and I inherited the farm; now he’s passed, too. So I am starting over. We have a great renter, but need to know more about the decisions he’s making.”
  • “I’ve been married to a farmer for 62 years. I’d like to know more about soil testing, and how to know the health of our soil.”
  • “I’ve been a farm girl all my life, but I don’t know much about farming; my chores were always indoors. We are blessed with good soil, but I hate to see it blowing and floating away. I’m here to learn more about conservation.”
  • “I grew up on a dairy farm, but farming today has changed a lot since then. My in-laws have passed away, and now my husband and I are part owners of the family farm. I came to this meeting to develop some contacts and to learn.”
  • “My husband and I have four adult siblings who disagree about what to do with the family acreage we are about to inherit. Most of them want to sell it, and my husband and I want to rejuvenate the land but need to learn more.”
  • “Growing up, my two brothers did the farming, then my husband; I never knew much about farming. At age 64, he died and left me with the livestock and all of the land. I sold the livestock and crop-shared it for a while. When I switched over to cash renting, things got so much easier because I don’t like the bookwork. But still, I’d like to learn more about soil health, cover crops and soil testing.”
  • “I like our tenant, but every year the grass waterway gets smaller and smaller. I’m afraid to bring it up because he is so very helpful in so many ways.”
  • “I am one of six siblings in a family with a lot of land. I grew up being told to ‘put the lever at 6,’ but not knowing why. I love my farm heritage, but it has limited decision roles for women. I want to make informed decisions for our land. Recently I had one tenant play chicken with me on cash rent, and he was surprised when I did not play ball with him on that.”
  • “When you crop-share, it’s your farm, you’ve paid for the inputs, you watch it grow, and you need to market it. So my sisters had to learn how to market grain, and a few of them just say, ‘Yeah, whatever you think is best.’ For years their husband did it, and then he dies.”
  • “One of the worst experiences of my life was seeing my farm fields out my kitchen window, knowing I was responsible for that, but not having the knowledge to manage it responsibly.”

There are no stupid questions, says Carol Schutte, WCL program assistant. “We are here to connect women landowners with learning resources to make educated decisions.”