I just read an interesting article titled "Breaking the Grass Ceiling: On US Farms, Women are Taking The Reins." This article stated that between 1982-2007, the number of women farmers have doubled and there are about 1,000,000 women farmers here in the U.S. That doesn't include the numbers of women joining the ranks of Veterinarians both small and large animals. When I go to Oregon State University (OSU) Veterinarian Hospital, it is rare that I see any male students anymore. The vast majority are women studying in the field, at least at OSU. Farm life for women is so popular that is is quickly becoming a growing genre for novels where women are buying novels on farm life more than the traditional "chick lit." I know I'm one of those that prefers and enjoys reading the joys and challenges and humor of living on a farm. I laugh harder at some stories because I've been there done that!
Saturday I'm attending a workshop on Chainsaw maintenance and proper usage. It is being hosted by the Willamette Women's Farm Network (WWFN) which is organized out of OSU. This is such a great group for us women farmers in Oregon. They are an amazing resource of information, workshops, marketing ideas and support. I am always inspired after being around these women and all they do. Such a diverse backgrounds as well as farm interests and businesses. It is an absolute wealth of information and knowledge coming from all these farmers. It is great to once in awhile get off the farm to be around others that totally get my passion for my niche of farming with alpacas.
WWFN reminds me a bit of the time when I was in the Women's Executive Leadership Program when I worked for the government. I was surrounded by another very diverse group of women from all agencies in the government from Health and Human Services to all the various branches of the Department of Defense, FBI, the Department of the Interior and Education Dept just to name a few. It was another part of my life where I was working to break that proverbial glass ceiling. I worked for the Navy and dealt with a very antiquated mindset at times being one of the few women engineers working at my base. But being around like minded, career minded and highly capable women, inspired me and gave me much confidence. And WWFN does the same for me today.
Being an introvert, I admit I'm not much for groups and I was reluctant to join WWFN. But after being around these women, I'm so glad I did. I come away feeling energized and excited all over again. It helps keep the flame and passion going for my alpaca farm business and I get new ideas for trying to break through the tough economy or being more self-reliant on the farm. I am reminded that it is a great time to become a Woman Farmer! I chose alpacas because I felt they were doable for a woman. They are easy to manage and handle and they so fit the other activities I enjoy doing with my spinning and fiber arts. I get to be outside each and everyday and no one cares if I am in my sweat pants and faded old blue jeans. I work hard and it feels like I have accomplished something good each and every day. And, it is a career that I feel like I'm giving back to the environment and society that I love so dearly too. So for you women out there looking for a possible career change. You might want to check into farming. It is a great "growing field!"