Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Second Tuesday on Franklin Hill Farm: Women farmers

I am but one

By Bettina Sperry

As a woman who owns her own thoroughbred racehorse farm and raises a few head of cattle, I am always wondering how I’m doing – individually as a business and comparatively across the board. Not short of a strongly competitive nature, I look for ways to grow the farm business. How are my finances? What are my earnings per acre? How do my statistics stack against other farms? I don’t mind asking the hard questions, which include examining the farm’s efficiency and finding ways to leverage greater growth and income without necessarily creating a lot more work or putting the business at risk.
    Yes, I read the top business books and have done so for many years. I keep up with most recent research in varied fields to ensure I’m staying abreast of information that is so readily available – to include articles on racehorses, cows, and a few other interests within the farming literature. I readily reinvest my earnings in the business, thus also staying abreast of investment literature and the market. I am an avid reader and have been for many years – in many different fields. I do the best I can to put that knowledge to work to my advantage.
    So, statistically, what does it mean to be the sole owner of farm? What does that mean when combined with the term woman? According to the USDA, nationally, I am one of 306,200 farms in which the principal operator is a woman. I am part of a smaller group of that 306,200 that has yearly earnings above $10,000. I like that.
    I’m a goal-setter and pretty much always end a year having accomplished my intentions, only periodically thwarted by the unpredictability of what life throws at me. I can also be an intense planner. As an example, after waiting several years to get my florals up and running –one reason I purchased this farm – I am planning to start growing the roses and lavender that I so love and admire. I have a small orchard planned for the farm and will be looking for other ways to express my long interest in botanicals.
    Yes, I have a green thumb, inherited from the many generations of the women farmers from whom I come. While having a wide array of interests, and being well-read, I am also an extremely focused individual once I determine what I choose to accomplish. Hopefully next spring and summer we’ll be looking at large-scale gardening and enjoying the smell of success through the perspective of petals and blooms.

In the months ahead, there will be lots to talk about relative to farming. In the shorter term, we’ll soon take a look at horseracing, women in horseracing, and other women in the farming industry. For now, please read along with me and enjoy three selected articles about women farmers:

Copyright © 2015 by Bettina Sperry


  1. Bettina, what a nice branch your column is taking, to discuss the role of women in farming. Of course! We look forward very much to learning more about this.

  2. Hi Bettina,

    I enjoy your articles on making a living as a woman farmer, a story of managing nature by a concerned, modern person.
    The articles you cite are interesting, as they point out that women's approach to farming is more humane than that of men and that women's farm ownership is fortunately rising.