Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Coral Lipstick and Broken Fences

We are nearing that time again. 

Though I just unpacked a suitcase last night, I can hardly wait to re-pack my carry-on in just a few days. Coming up is the annual trip Momma and I take with her best friend and her daughter....a Girls' Weekend Off the Farm. Momma works so hard for BSG year-around; I know she looks forward to this relaxing girls' weekend, just as I do. 

Speaking of her work ethic...

Monsanto held a contest this Spring honoring America's Farm Moms. Not only did I receive emails asking me to submit an entry on behalf of Momma, I actually received in the mail a cut-out newspaper article outlining the contest from a fellow Hoosier - asking me to nominate her. If that doesn't speak volumes about what people think of her character, I'm not sure what will. Below is my nomination. Win or lose, it's nice to know I'm not the only person who thinks Linda Bowman is one hell of a lady....

I nearly fell off my porch swing when I read that Monsanto was taking nominations for America's Farmers Mom of the Year Award. It was my understanding that my mother, Linda Bowman, already held that title...consecutively, for many years. 
Mom left her nursing career 26 years ago to be a homemaker for three toeheads. Since then, a life-long dream of my father’s, to own a purebred Shorthorn operation, has come true. 

Instead of wearing white hose, a white cap and white nursing uniform, Mom now drains hoses so they won’t freeze, sees that caps are securely fastened onto vaccine syringes and dresses in Mucks and hooded sweatshirts. 

Though it’s quite handy for us grown children to still live close to our family operation come calving season and weaning week, each of us, including my father, have jobs off the farm. 

Everyone, except for Mom. 

She reads her daily devotions while watching for heat and watching the sun rise across the Indiana sky. She plans her meals by leafing through cookbooks as she waits for water tanks to fill in the hot July heat. Mom brings freezing calves into her warm home, wrapping them in blankets, checking them throughout the night. She told me once that as much as she hates the thought of hooves scraping up her (once clean) linoleum floor, there’s no better sound than the shuffle a new calf does when she finally finds her feet after surviving a questionable night. 
Mom stays home alone, managing everything, while the rest of us travel to Denver and Canada annually to promote our operation. We’re thankful to have a strong mother that isn’t afraid to drive through snow drifts to get to the cattle, run an auger or call the vet when one person simply isn’t enough. All with coral lipstick on. 

Mom serves the community by volunteering at the county fair and sitting on township committees, as well spending a week in our county seat teaching local urban elementary students about the dire importance of animal agriculture; during this week she loads up a young calf to show the students. Through that experience she’s learned that many local third graders know little about beef....
Mom: Ok, let’s talk about the products we use everyday that come from cattle. Who knows what almost all of us wear daily, that comes from cattle?
Student 1: Cotton!
Mom: No, cotton is a plant; it is grown in soil. What I’m thinking of is on your shoes. 
Student 2: NIKE!
Mom: No, Nike does not come from cows. 
Student 3: Hey farmer lady, is that a Rottweiler?!
Mom: WHAT?? No, this is not a Rottweiler - it's not even dog! This is a baby calf.
Student 4: Wait, cows make the rubber on our shoes?!
Before she had a coronary, Mom revealed to the kids that leather is actually a byproduct of cattle.
Through the close calls, late nights and intense frustrations that go into raising cattle, Mom never gives up. While I was out living the life in Washington, DC, I heard her heart break through the telephone line as she told me the calf she had been checking on every hour didn’t make it through the night. I’ve seen her miss Homemaker Extension club meetings because the cows got out. I’ve watched Mom shower and get ready for a dinner with her best friends in 23 minutes because we asked her to  stick around and help tag calves.  If Mom wasn’t so selflessly dedicated, I say confidently that we wouldn’t have the farm today.
I remember following Mom down a worn, dusty cowpath when I was a young girl. In true Jean fashion, I was very careful not to step directly in her footsteps, but rather stepping a bit in hers while also making a new track of my own. I knew I wanted to be involved in agriculture my whole life, but I didn’t know if I could care for a husband, children and a herd of cattle in the way she did: by sacrificing so much with such grace, unrest and irreplaceable determination. At that age, I liked the thought of lavish vacations to Disney World. 

I’ve grown now and realized, not only that Disney World is more like Misery World for a girl like me, but because of the work ethic and values she’s instilled in me, there is no other Farm Mom I’d rather fall into the footsteps of than Linda Bowman herself. 


  1. This is a great tribute to you Mom - Good Luck!

  2. Great post! love the leather story!

  3. Keep us posted on the contest! If only my position in corn research had any pull! :-)