The Heart of a Rural Sister: Bonnie

Heart of a Rural Sister: Bonnie

I have had the privilege to get to know Bonnie through The Rural Sisters' Community! She is one amazing lady. She is driven, loyal, a lifelong learner and has the heart of an entrepreneur! I know you'll be inspired by her story just like I have been. Thank you Bonnie, for sharing your story with me and allowing me to share it here!

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and your Ag operation!

My farm wife journey started 33 years ago when I married my farmer. We live in northeast Nebraska and live on our farm. It is 11 miles from where I grew up. We raise corn, soybeans, alfalfa and black Angus cows. We have a son and daughter. Our son farms and we share ground and equipment. Our daughter is also married to a farmer and lives about 17 miles away. They grow crops similar to what we raise. My daughter also recently opened her own yoga studio and I joined her by recently getting certified to teach yoga.

What is/was the most challenging part of farming?

I had no idea what I was getting into when I married my farmer. My husband wanted me to stay home and be a stay-at-home farm wife so that's what I did. But my interest in learning was never quenched so I learned all the things I could about farming. How to drive a tractor, and straight truck. The knowledge I gained and the learning that I got to do was very enjoyable. Once we had our kids, my mother-in-law took care of them and brought the food out. Then at that point I learned even more skills, such as discing, hauling grain, and ran equipment when needed. Around that same time, I began to have this aching need for more learning, that grew stronger after we had our son and daughter. I have always valued being independent and an entrepreneur since I was very young. I really wanted a professional presence and purpose. I wanted to contribute more. So I started taking a one night a week college course learning how to use a computer. This was around 1990 when home computers were just becoming more prevalent. I loved the class and I loved learning about the computer. I just love to learn! So I began using the computer to set up our farm records. I continued my schooling, so that I'd have something to fall back on if the worst was to happen. I spent one night a week at school for two years. Once my daughter went to school, I went to school during the day while she was at school. I began working towards the original data processing/computer processing degree. I taught myself how to use applications and use email. A passion to teach what I was learning began to grow. I really wanted to be able to help people learn the same things. The first teaching opportunity I had was to teach computer applications in ad. I went from a trial basis, to a part-time job to full-time job at Northeast Community College. I went on to be the first woman on the Nebraska Agriculture Technology Association Board(NEATA) and several other boards. I continue to work full-time as an agribusiness technology instructor and taught classes about modern technology in agriculture and GPS variable rate technology. I have since retired but continue to desire to empower women involved in ag. Now I consider my role to be "on-call farmwife, mom and grandma”. When they need me I'm here. I love this role very much!

Heart of a Rural Sister: Bonnie

(When I was talking with Bonnie before our over the phone interview for this post, I asked her to email me a picture of herself doing something that depicted her role in their operation. This is what she sent me! I just love, Love, LOVE it! She works alongside her husband and supports him, their children and grandson in any way she can!)

Many rural women in Ag struggle with isolation and loneliness at different times throughout the year. Do you or have you faced similar struggles? How did you deal with that?

In my early years as a stay at home farm wife and mom I did face that loneliness. At that time I dealt with it by making sure I was involved as much as possible with the farming operation and spending time with other farm wives that had little ones the same age. I also felt the need to have something more that I could offer personally so I took college classes to learn skills that would help us with our farm record keeping. I no longer feel that isolation or loneliness in the sense of not being able to get out and about like it was back in the day. I also have grown to like spending time by myself and enjoying time to do something creative.

What are the unique ways you find to keep your love and attraction alive with your hubby?

My farmers' love language is having the person he cares about spend quality time with him. So I make sure I show him my love by being present with him and working alongside each other. We both appreciate our alone time, but when we can work on projects together it keeps that connection.

Would you mind sharing with us how you made it through challenging times or the most challenging parts of farming?

The most challenging part for me is staying positive when it seems like I am always dealing with the negative. Some days I just have to say, “Ok God. I'm doing this for you today nobody else just you.” I have to make that my focus especially when doing something I don't want to do mainly dealing with others negative attitudes.

Do you have any daily self-care non-negotiables? (For some this might be reading the Bible daily, others it's getting up a little bit earlier than the rest of the family to have a bit of quiet time, others it might be getting their nails done, journaling, etc. Why are those important to you?

My quiet time in the mornings with my coffee and God's word. It keeps me grounded and gives me strength to give more grace and patience when needed. It reminds me to take one day at a time and to keep God with me.

When life is at its busiest do you have a go to recipe or two that you wouldn't mind sharing with us?

My go to recipe when things are really busy is simply a roast with carrots and potatoes!

What is one piece of wisdom that you would share with another woman in ag?

Find ways that work for you. Consider your health. Stay positive and overcome any self doubt that creates fear.

Knowing what you know now about life and farming what would you tell yourself 10-20 years ago?

Take one day at a time.

Many women in ag are looking for creative ways to supplement the farm income. How have you found ways to supplement your income?

I am a Director with Thirty-One Gifts. I don't do it full-time and I don't make much money from it. But I love to help other people and I see it as a way that I can have fun and give back. I call it “being on call for me that need for ‘bonding time’ with other women". I want to empower women to contribute and make what they want out of it. You can't give too much.

As a business owner what advice would you give for the women in Ag, that are starting their own businesses?

Consider what you love to do, that you could offer to others, and create a business out of that. Reinvent yourself. Think outside the box. My daughter did just that and I'm enjoying working with her in her yoga studio. Consider taking a career planning type of course to learn more about what you love to do! Search out online classes or going to a college near you.

Last but not least, what do you believe are the three most important qualities in a farm wife?

  1. Always challenge yourself to learn something new. Be a lifelong learner.

  2. Believe in yourself and know that you are an important part of your farm/ranch no matter how little or how involved you are. Work to overcome self-doubt.

  3. Make it fun! Even if they think you're crazy. For example when I send food out to the field I always take a selfie even if nobody looks the way of the camera. Write "love notes". For example, I always include in my packed lunches a "made with love by Bonnie", "make it a great day" or some other encouraging phrase.

Heart of a Rural Sister Bonnie

I hope you enjoyed and were encouraged by Bonnie's story as much as I was. Her entrepreneurial spirit, determination and drive to keep learning is so inspiring.

If you'd like to connect with Bonnie, follow the links below:

Bonnie's Blog: Facebook: Facebook business group: LinkedIn: Instagram: @bonniekayes Twitter: @bonniekschulz

Bonnie is also an active member of the Rural Sisters' Community! You can join us in this supportive and encouraging Facebook community for rural women in Ag, here!

If you have enjoyed reading this entry of "The Heart of a Rural Sister", you might also enjoy reading the last interview with Kacey! You can read it here!