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What I wish I knew before I became a farmer’s wife: I was sold a lie

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Before I moved to rural Tasmania to start a farming business with my husband, I was hooked on TV series that covered country life.

From food, travel, and reality shows, I inhaled everything mainstream that focused on farming. I believed I was looking at my future.

But I was sold a lie. I often joke that I’d love to have a few words with the producers of shows which depict what is widely known in rural circles to be an unrealistic and highly romanticised representation of life on the land.

While watching city slickers flock to farms in the hopes of becoming a ‘farmer’s wife’ is highly entertaining, the successful contestants really have no idea what they’re in for. They remind me of me. Me three and a half years ago.

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Stephanie Trethewey. (Stephanie Trethewey)

When I gave up city life after marrying a country boy, my expectations, along with my rose-tinted glasses, were quickly shattered.

If I had a time machine, here are six realities about running a farm and raising kids in rural Australia that I wish I could go back and tell myself.

Dear future farmer Steph,

1. You will never kiss your husband in a field of sunflowers or have a romantic date while sitting on top of a hay bale with fairy lights twinkling in the background.

2. Annual leave? haha, what’s that? Paternity leave? LOL. Your husband will be back at work on the farm the day after you give birth to your baby.

3. Be prepared to do a lot of solo parenting. Farming is a seven-day-a-week gig, and it’s never, ever going to be 9 to 5.

4. You will compete with cattle and machinery for your partner’s attention because the fact is, you’ve married the land too. The farm often comes first, and that’s going to take time to accept.

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Stephanie Trethewey (Pip Williams)

5. A ‘bad day at the office’ can be exceptionally brutal. From putting down a sick animal, to navigating a horrific weather spell, the household mood can be as volatile as the season. Oh and it either doesn’t rain enough, or it rains too much, or it all just happens at the wrong time.

6. You’re going to need to work really hard not to let farm life consume you during the tough times.

Just like motherhood, it can be isolating, relentless, and frustrating, and you will need to find your own coping mechanisms.

Stephanie Trethewey struggled when she became a mum (Supplied)

But for every challenge, there will be countless more upsides.

  • The shows do get it right, sometimes. Seeing your man in an Akubra and watching him muster cattle like something out of Snowy River will in fact set your ovaries on fire.
  • Country people are kind and generous in a way you’ve never experienced before, and they will soften your hardened city nature.
  • You will ditch the daily makeup and designer clothes and learn to love yourself in all your natural, unedited glory.
  • Your kids will see exactly where their food comes from and develop a connection to nature that no classroom can ever teach them.
  • You’ll slow down. Just a little bit. Enough to soak in the sunrises and sunsets and marvel at the hundreds of acres you now call your backyard.
  • The land will slowly seep into your bones. The sounds of traffic, horns beeping, and the hustle and bustle of the city you used to call home will fade away. They’ll be replaced with the sound of a tractor, the mooing of a cow, and Sam’s ute roaring up the dirt driveway.

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Stephanie with her husband Sam.
Stephanie with her husband Sam. (Stephanie Trethewey)

This life isn’t what you thought it would be.

But it’s real and it’s raw. It’s home.

Goodluck and Godspeed.

Steph xx

Stephanie is the founder and CEO of Motherland, a charity that’s on a mission to eliminate the crippling isolation so many rural mums face. In late 2021, Stephanie launched Motherland Village, Australia’s first online rural mother’s group program.

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