Overalls. Boots. Red barns. Old tractors. These are a few of the things that might come to mind when imagining farmers.
While tending to animals and crops is a huge part of the job, there are many other aspects that go into farming—just ask Dee Sandquist, a Niman Ranch hog farmer from southeast Iowa.
The Home Farm
Dee and her husband have been farming together for more than a decade, but it’s something that’s always been a part of their lives. They both grew up on farms and took up farming early on. After a few years, they made the decision to stop—but eventually, life led them back to the fields.
“We made a business decision to do something else since we weren’t on a family farm, and interest rates were high. It was the worst time in history to start farming,” says Dee. “But in 2009, we moved back to my family’s farm to help my mother manage things.” Dee and her husband gradually began farming again, and the rest is history.
“A typical day depends on the weather, the season, and the age of the pigs,” Dee remarks. “This past winter, we had a lot of very cold days. Extra care was needed to make sure the pigs were comfortable.”
Modern Farm Management
Today, Dee’s role is multifaceted. She helps with the fieldwork and livestock as needed, but she’s also in charge of land management and finances. To top it all off, she has an off-farm job as well.
“Most ‘farm wives’ are involved in the farm management even if they aren’t a part of the day-to-day farm work,” says Dee. “Not enough has been written about our involvement until recently. Nearly half of all the farmland in Iowa is owned or co-owned by women.”
When it comes to why Dee loves farming, it’s all about care and preservation. She’s dedicated to respecting the land so it’s here for future generations.
“If I could tell the world one thing about farming,” says Dee, “it would be that farmers are always looking for ways to preserve soil health and improve water quality. We care about our land and livestock.”