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Woman at Work: Zeena Weedman, Farmer, Mom + Fisherman

Farming is honest work.
It is so poetic to reap what you sow.
What’s a day in your work like?

As the wife of a fifth generation wheat farmer and mother of two boys, mornings are hectic! During the harvest season is when I get the most action. We start early by getting chores done and lunches packed. My husband is already out fueling equipment and making sure everything is running. I load the kids up around 6:30, and head to the field. Waiting for us are three combines, two tractors with bank out wagons, and the semi-trucks for hauling grain. I drive one of the tractors that pulls a large bank out wagon alongside the combines. I pack blankets, toys, snacks and activities for my four-year-old, and he rides along with me all day.

In the field, communication is key. We have two field bosses that happen to be my husband's business partners, and amazing women. My sister-in-law Whitney is in charge of the bank out wagons, and her cousin Erin manages the combines. Between the two of them, they manage logistics in the field so that we can be as efficient as possible. The bank-out wagons determine which combine needs to be emptied first. I drive alongside the combine that is full, while the driver swings an augur over my wagon to fill it. I then drive over to the waiting semi-trucks and empty all the grain using my own augur. The trucks then take the harvest to the silos.

There is rarely any down time during the day unless we have a breakdown, which happens. After a long day of cutting and hauling grain we empty our lunches, eat a late and simple dinner, shower and catch some sleep.

Tell us about the farm.
Weedman Ranch Inc. is a fifth-generation family-run wheat farm that manages around 24,000 acres,including owned and leased ground. This includes pasture ground for cattle, farm, and CRP (conservation reserve program) ground.

We are dry land wheat farmers. We rely on mother nature to bring the rain after the seeds are planted in the fall. The wheat grows over the course of the winter and spring, also known as winter wheat. We use a variety called soft white for the majority of the crop. Soft white wheat is used to make flour for bakery products, and pasta. Managing growth of noxious weeds in and around the fields is a year-round task.

What are the modern challenges farmers face?
Regionally, fires. Most of the local farmers equip their flatbed pickups with a tank full of water and a hose that can shoot the water a long distance. This allows them to quickly and effectively put out any fire they come across. The nature of this land is dry grass and high winds, a recipe for disaster when a fire erupts. It truly is incredible to see all the neighboring farms come to the rescue with their own firefighters to help save a crop/or house in danger.

As a whole, farming and ranching are the backbone of our society– it’s desperately important to support local organizations such as FFA, and4H. In order to support an industry, you should first understand it.Take the time to attend a fair. Learn about how farmers and ranchers affect the local economy. Support farmers at stands and markets. Join the conversation by checking out #thankafarmer.

What do you have to sacrifice to be good at what you do?
A small amount of individual identity. Working and living on a family farm comes with an expectation that you adopt their way of life without hesitation. Also, working alongside your spouse comes with its challenges. I have to compartmentalize my emotions at work. If it's been a hard day, it can be difficult to “leave it on the field” when we come home. That being said–I love being part of a legacy that will be here for generations to come.

What do you want people to know about being a woman in your field?
There is an enormous amount of room for women in this line of work. The farming industry has come leaps and bounds in equipment and technology. Anyone from any skill level can operate large equipment.

Who’s a role model who helped you in your journey to where you are?

My sweet late mother has been my role model. She grew up as a refined city girl. She traveled the world,living in multiple countries as a youth. She spoke many languages, and familiarized herself with different cultures. When she reached college age, she met and fell in love with a farmer. This farmer (my dad) had a big dream, a dream bigger than his bank account, as it turns out. Four kids later, my mom fell into some serious challenges. She faced these many challenges with grace, grit, faith, class, and somehow joy. She was a force of positivity, class and encouragement. She rebuilt from the ground up and inspired me in so many ways.

What is your favorite aspect of farming?

Farming is honest work. It is so poetic to reap what you sow. We get to see our family every day. It is truly unique to see sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, and grandparent regularly. We work together, and play together. We go through life together, thick and thin. That is pretty special.

What does workwear designed for women mean to you?

It has truly touched me on such a deep level. I did not anticipate this at all. I have always enjoyed being feminine, I have also always enjoyed getting my hands dirty. Since I was a young woman, I felt silly putting makeup on, and then "work clothes”. Work clothes, to me, used to be ugly, ratty, clothes that I didn't mind ruining or staining– clothes that would definitely rank dead last in the fit and flattery category.

I would get relentlessly teased for wearing makeup while "working" by both men and (sadly) women. Wearing workwear designed to make me actually feel good, attractive, and practical has changed the way I feel in my own skin. It has boosted my confidence level tremendously. It's very empowering, and makes my place in whatever I am doing feel more relevant.

What are you doing when you’re not working hard?

Fishing, fishing, fishing.

Follow Zeena here for outdoor adventures and life on the farm.

"Wearing workwear designed to make me actually feel good, attractive, and practical has changed the way I feel in my own skin" - Zeena Weedman

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