For those of you who are aware~ my Mom and I are best friends. BFFs 4ever. Sisters. Compadres. Two peas in a pod. For those of you who weren’t aware, you are now.

I am an only child born to two of the most awesome people I will ever know in my life! Weighing in at a whopping 2 pounds when I was born, they say I was nothing short of a miracle. No short pun intended, though I do only amount to a staggering 5 foot 2 inches tall. My whole hand fit inside my daddy’s thumb nail when I was fresh out of the oven, to give you perspective. He’d hold my head in his hand and my little feet would end just shy of his elbow. Mom really didn’t like it when he held me like that.

I was raised a ranch kid. Down and dirty was the only way to get. I wrangled animals with the best of them and had the animal sounds down real quick, implying which I wanted to visit that day. Life was great as an only child. I had all the livestock in the world to talk to when I wanted to. Sometimes they even talked back.

I have a distinct memory that I love to remember about my childhood including my Farm Mom. Mom has always been the Egg Lady. As long as I can remember she’s had chickens in the coop. Paired with an occasional peacock or two every once in a while. But this specific time I was only two. Walking on my own two feet ready to take on the world. That day was the day I finally got to help collect the eggs! I stepped in the chicken coop, geared up with my teeny tiny mud boots, and she handed me two eggs-one for each hand. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself! So I clapped my hands together with joy only to have

my heart shattered like the bazillion tiny pieces of egg shell in my hands and tears began running down my cheeks like the gooey yolk running down my arms.

I was crushed. But Mom quickly came to my rescue wiping the tears from my face, wiping my arms clean on her shirt and placing two more fresh eggs in my eager palms. Whew. That was a close one.

I remember this so well, because it was my first shot at responsibility and Mom gave me a second try. It’s these little things in life that make living on a farm or ranch the greatest lessons you will ever learn.

This being said, in 2010 I discovered what I thought could be the greatest pay back for my Mom always being there for me, my Dad, and our animals. Each year, Monsanto sponsors a “Farm Mom of the Year” contest! I was so excited to nominate her for this prestigious award. I filled out the application and wrote her nomination, only before discovering that she didn’t meet the qualifications listed.

Here are the nominee qualifications as listed on the Farm Mom website:

1. Grows at least 250 acres of corn, soybeans, cotton, vegetables, and/or specialty crops (canola, sorghum, wheat or alfalfa; or

2. grows at least 40 acres of fruits and vegetables; or

3. raises at least 100 head of cattle or hogs; or

4. raises at least 50 head of sheep; or

5. raises at least 25 head of goats; or

6. raises at least 50 head of dairy cows; or

7. raises at least 20,000 poultry (broilers or layers).

You see, our ranch isn’t large enough for my mom to qualify for this award under any of these standards.

My Farm Mom’s qualifications are as such:

1. Cares for at least 25 chickens, half of which were recently eaten by what we think was a wiley coyote who tore open the chicken coop like a tin can, and one nasty, mean turkey who bites the hand that feeds him all the time; AND

2. Feeds, waters, and talks to 5 barn cats who she loves just as much as her two indoor cats who used to be barn cats; AND

3. Drove me to dance class, recitals, 4-H meetings, weigh in days, county fair meetings, FFA meetings, and really anywhere I needed to go for the first 15 1/2 years of my life with a smile on her face; AND

4. Feeds and monitors our 5 cows on our hobby farm, cleans out the water troughs when they get dirty, and sweeps the barn when it gets dusty; AND

5. Made my lunch for school and my dad’s lunch for work every day leaving sweet, little notes and treats in with the healthy food; AND

6. Works seasonally as part of the backbone of our county fair and local pumpkin patch so she could be a stay at home mom to be the best Mom ever for her only child; AND

7. Work with hands callused with love, devotion, humor, affection, and “want to” to serve as the most loyal, respectful, and caring woman I have ever met in my life.

No, we don’t have at least 100 head of cattle. No, mom’s chicken coop would never fit 200,000 broilers or layers. No, our ranch wouldn’t do with 25 goats. But what my Mom does have room for is the love of ranching in her heart and the care she has for her family above and beyond what is expected of her.

So here’s to my 2013 Farm Mom of the Year. Mrs. Maureen Bankhead.

before wynonna

If your Farm Mom meets the qualifications I listed above, please do nominate her for her dedication to the farm or ranch you live or grew up on here. 

And a huge congratulations to Debbie Lyons-Blythe, the 2012 National Farm Mom of the Year!

Thank you for reading about my Mom. Now go tell yours how much she means to you!

~Mal the Beef Gal