Letting your freak flag fly on the farm… Breaking the mold!

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November 28, 2011 by Carrie Mess

Nothing like blog posts going from cow report cards to body art…. Funny thing is, what a lot of people think of when they picture a farmer in their mind just isn’t how it is today. I just got a tattoo, it isn’t a tractor logo, a  cow or anything you may think of when you think about farmers. It got me thinking about how farmers today just aren’t the overall wearing, country music listening, slow talking, technophobes that some people may conjure up when asked what a farmer looks like.

This is my new tattoo. The words are from the cadet maxim. Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible. These are words I try to live my life by as a human and as a farmer.

 

I tweeted and posted on Facebook asking farmers to let me know how they break the typical farmer mold and post pictures if possible.

“Are you a farmer that doesn’t fit the stereotype? Instead of a truck you drive a VW.

You have more ink than the local newspaper. Your tractor blasts ICP or Ke$ha…

Tell me how you break the typical farmer mold. Pictures if possible!”

I wasn’t disappointed in the response from the farming social media world!  Wow, we sure have some freaks out there! I kid, I kid. Just like the 98% who do not farm, the 2% involved in production agriculture is pretty dang diverse. The other day I was chatting with a friend of mine who was getting ready to head to the symphony. Before he could leave his farm he needed to finish breeding cows. I bet most people don’t look around at the symphony and think that the guy sitting next to them just artificially inseminated a cow. A farmer that enjoys the symphony is by no means shocking, however it breaks the stereotype. Glen, another Wisconsin dairy farmer says his tractor is more likely to have Rage Against The Machine playing in it than the Big Joe Polka Show. Jeff a grain and fruit farmer marches to the beat of his own drum, wearing golf shirts and khaki shorts while listening to Ke$ha in his tractor. Sarah from Virginia says she loves Lady GaGa and heels but her Muck boots are her favorites.  Music tastes and clothing choices are personal and just because farmers have rural addresses doesn’t mean we all listen to country and wear overalls.

This was my 26th birthday present to myself. I had just left my office job and decided that there wasn't any reason I couldn't have pink hair. I loved it but it turns out dairy farming is pretty hard on pink hair so I went back to standard colors after a few months.

Some farmers have a practical reason for their tattoos. A ring on your finger around heavy equipment can soon lead to a farmer who can only count to nine, or worse. This is James' wedding band tattoo, he is a Canadian dairy farmer (@cashtwentytwo on twitter) and it's his only tattoo. As he says "hard to decide what to follow a tattoo so important with." Click on the photo for a link to his blog.

My friend the glamorous Emily, rocking big shades in the tractor.

Emily also rocks the fun Bogs boots in the barn. Her tattoo says Courage, Serenity. She lives those words everyday as a young dairy farmer starting out in the world.

Janet (@RLFarmWife) a former city girl turned Ohio farmer has this tattoo and another on her foot. Click on the photo to check out her blog.

Dwayne (@dwaynefishel) is a farm kid that now lives in town. He added the timothy grass to his body art to pay homage to his rural roots. You can take the boy out of the country ....

Danielle (@daniellemhayes) is a farm chick that really rocks her own personal style and I love it! She says that to her it's vital to value both parts of who she is, farm girl and glam girl. Click on the photo to check out her super cool blog.

 My posts asking for photos and input inspired some great discussion about what it means to be yourself when you are part of what can be an all consuming profession. I think it’s awesome that the people growing our corn, beans, apples and cotton, farmers milking cows feeding pigs and beef steers, raising rabbits and chickens are just as diverse as agriculture is. It reminds me that “it takes all kinds to make the world go ’round” and I am thankful to live in a country where I can have those choices. Even if in my county I may raise an eyebrow. The conversation has also lead to me thinking more about what people see when they look at me. What kind of first impression do I leave? I have worked a long time to have my actions reflect who I am.  Now I think it’s time for me to tackle the outside. I am challenging myself to step it up a notch and instead of wishing I had a certain look, going for it.

What do you like about your personal style? Is there anything you want to change about the first impression you leave? We all have stereotypes we could fit under no matter the profession, how do you break the mold?

27 thoughts on “Letting your freak flag fly on the farm… Breaking the mold!

  1. Dang…I missed my chance to send mine in! Great post though, Carrie!

  2. leanneveitch says:

    Great post, because we farmers – especially farm chicks – are stereotyped a lot.

    So…does composing choral music in my spare time count? :-)

  3. Brian says:

    Great post! I don’t fit the mold either. http://bit.ly/htC7vp

  4. Charlotte says:

    Love your post! As a rancher I can relate, especially being a ‘chick’! I had a really nice down filled pink jacket that got a grease stain on it (have no idea how). I was going to toss it in the cat house to keep them warm thru the winter (very cold here in Alberta, Canada) and my husband said I should wear it for doing chores. The thought had not crossed my mind – it was too nice of a coat to wear feeding cows….but I’d let the cats sleep on it! ;)

    Let’s just say I had some interesting looks when I went to different ranches to help out wearing my pink down filled jacket…but is it ever warm!!

  5. Loved this blog post and its so true! So much is differenty that the typical stereotype of a farmer. I love that though…also I have a couple tattoos! :o)

  6. Wait. You mean I’m friends with people who don’t fit the typical farmer stereotype? And YOU DAIRY CARRIE have ink? Not sure I can handle the surprise LOL!

    I’m guessing a rockin red convertible isn’t what people typically think of when they imagine what sort of vehicle would have an agriculture license plate! But on a beautiful day going to visit a cotton farm, the smiles are always enormous! http://jplovescotton.com/2010/10/17/cool-chicks-cruising-cotton-convertible/ Oh, and you know when I found out Jeff Fowle & Ray Prock would be in the room with Chammillionaire I went nuts! See for yourself — http://jplovescotton.com/2010/09/20/140conf-los-angeles-lineup-includes-several-notables/

    I think there are a lot of eclectic farmers & farm bloggers out here…. showing that there isn’t a single profile is one way to help people understand we are all regular people…. and that means no cookie cutter approach! :)

    • DairyCarrie says:

      Janice believe it or not… This is my first tattoo! I love your fantastic red car and I am sure the guys get a big kick out of it pulling into their fields. I love how diverse we all are and love even more to shine a little light onto what connects the 2% to the 98%. Sounds like more of our Ag friends are going to do similar posts too! Way cool.

  7. Great blog post.

    And for the record, Farmer D is pretty traditional, but plays jazz in the tractor.

  8. Jon Lundgren says:

    In my younger days I played bass guitar in a punk/grunge band and also sported a green mohawk for a time. Not enough hair up there anymore to do that, but the punk still resides in me. Maybe I can dye what little hair I have left green for old time’s sake.

    No ink on me, as I always figured I’d hate whatever I get after a few months.

  9. oregongreen says:

    I love it! Great post!!

  10. I have to smile….I’m a farmer…just picked out my tattoo…thought I was the only one! Thanks! :) Yours looks great!

  11. [...] stereotype. From tattoos to fashion, the answers were amazing! I was so honored to be included in this post because though my involvement with ag may not be in a traditional way, I still have an ability to [...]

  12. [...] The Adventures of Dairy Carrie… I think I Need a Drink! My life as I live it as a farm girl, wife and friend. Random, hectic, occasionally booze soaked…. HomeAbout ← Letting your freak flag fly on the farm… Breaking the mold! [...]

  13. [...] Tattoos! Love them or hate them… Lots of folks are out there looking for their perfect “Farming tattoo”. [...]

  14. [...] you think those two things don’t belong to the same kind of person, read Dairy Carrie’s Letting Your Freak Flag Fly on the Farm…Breaking the Mold. And as a bonus, you’ll get to see a picture of me naked. (Don’t worry Mom, it’s [...]

  15. I think the stereotypical farmer died out long ago. In 1967 I sent my farmer/boyfriend (now husband of 42 years) a really neat (groovy) Peace sticker. I thought he would put it on his 67 Mustang Fastback but instead he put it on his 1100 Massey Tractor which hauled all the grain to the local elevator. He got lots of negative comments….. (damn hippie)

  16. Love this post Carrie!
    I’m ‘inked and farm’ also. My brother pd for my tattoos for my 30th birthday, my kids help pick it out.
    People seem shocked to hear I love to rock out to classic rock (louder the better!) and play with power tools and farm…..I’m not sure why. I always hear the comment “Oh you must love country music then”
    I prefer to be outside around our animals all day or working in the barn over being anywhere near the city.

  17. Shari Thomas says:

    Hee, hee, we don’t fit the stereotype either. Here we are, already retired from long careers other than ag, We buy a piece of property on an abandoned farm and proceeded to figure it all out.
    When you see us, we’re a motly crew. All four of us have short hair, some of us shorter than others. We’ll most likely be in jeans and boots, or tennies. A couple of us wear hats, a couple don’t.
    When it comes to music. The music of the 60′s is my choice, Cindy likes the 70′s, Bev likes the 80′s, and Mom, well if she could hear it, anything from desert flute, to big band, to symphonic.
    No ink, no holes, no joke.

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