I was rocking my daughter to sleep the other night, thinking about the time I declared, with all the confidence of 20, that I’d never marry a farmer.
I spent my childhood summers always a little covered in dirt, sticky from the heat, breathing dust in fields across the western plains. I loved the hours I spent in the combine with my dad as we followed the wheat harvest north, listening to classic country and 70’s rock, whatever the radio gave us. Watching huge storms roll in across the Kansas sky, making friends and learning conversational Spanish in a small town Texas swimming pool, trying to tame an armadillo in Oklahoma. I was maybe a little feral as a summer kid; on the harvest run or horseback in the woods of northern Canada with my cousins. It was an unconventional way to grow up but I remember having so much fun.
My mom cooked for a full harvest crew out of the kitchen of our camper trailer. She’d load dishes and her pack of little children up every evening and take us out to meet the guys in the field. We’d sit in lawn chairs and on tailgates and eat our dinner, the wind blowing dirt into our mashed potatoes but we didn’t care. Those were some of my favorite meals, sitting there between the big open skies and the ground that fed us, there was so much freedom.
I got older and left my little Montana hometown for college 2,000 miles away. As I grew in experiences, saw more of the world, the stress of a life in agriculture became more obvious and less attractive. Unpredictable weather, volatile markets, long hours and equipment that always breaks right when you need it to run most. It didn’t seem worth it to me, I wanted a different kind of life, something more stable and not dependent on rain and dirt. So I told my friends and anyone who’d listen that I’d never marry a farmer, I thought I knew where I was going, and it was in the direction of downtown lights and cocktail bars. Far from getting covered in dust in a wheat field.
One thing that I did carry with me, that I appreciated despite my attempts to distance myself from them, were those harvest meals. I spent years as a young adult battling food and my body, unsure and deeply confused about what a meal actually meant to me. Swinging wildly from restriction to binging and purging to “I’m just living a healthy lifestyle” which was still disordered eating in disguise. In the midst of the darker moments I’d often think about those meals I ate as a kid. Sitting in a wheat field miles from nowhere, enjoying my dessert and not caring if it was clean or healthy, how much sugar was in it or how hard I thought I had to work for it. I felt connected to the land our food came from and it was all so simple and uncomplicated. Eating those meals represented a freedom I’d somehow lost along the way. As I did the difficult work towards healing my relationship with food I recognized their beauty and value and leaned on the light those memories held.
God heard my “I’ll never” but in his infinite wisdom he knew what I needed even if I didn’t…….and I did marry a farmer. I fell in love with the way he was quick to smile, making me laugh when I was too serious. Patient and supportive and deeply rooted; he’s been showing me why farming is worth the work and the risk. Now, under Montana skies, 100 miles east of where my grandfather first took his tractor and put a crop in the ground, I’ll raise my own farm children. We’ll worry about the weather and the markets, holding the tension and uncertainty but always leaving room for the good that comes with this life.
It feels redemptive; those years of my life that I spent finding an enemy in food are slowly being reclaimed. I fear my food less as I learn more about farming, as I connect to the land and the seasons and the effort it takes to get seed into the ground and harvest a crop. The more I’ve learned, the more freedom I’ve found, realizing what we grow is good and safe. Cooking a meal, feeding people I love, creating something beautiful in the kitchen, it’s life giving and I appreciate it on a deeper level now. The opportunity to write a new story out of what felt broken is a grace I’m deeply thankful for.
So here I am, married to a farmer, holding my baby. When it’s time I’ll load up my own dishes and my own daughter and she’ll eat harvest meals in a wheat field miles from nowhere. Sitting in lawn chairs or on tailgates, finding dirt in her mashed potatoes, connected to the land that feeds us. She’ll have her dessert and I’ll say a prayer that all she knows is the freedom of enjoying it, that she understands all foods are good foods, that I’ll have the wisdom and the words to teach her. I hope she’ll love these meals as much as I did as a child and appreciate the beauty in this life. She’ll be sticky and dusty and maybe a little feral as a summer kid, and I’ll be thankful every day that I married a farmer.
Julia Fisher is a wife, mother and part-time nurse who enjoys sharing about the joys and
challenges of rural life. She and her husband are grain farmers in north central Montana and are
excited to be raising another generation of kids in agriculture. She loves experimenting in the
kitchen and creating beautiful meals for friends and family, gardening, reading, and writing
about the hard and holy of everyday life. You can find her sharing snippets of life on Instagram.