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Two-bucket farm wife: Janet Guidry

Progressive Forage Writer Carrie Veselka Published on 23 November 2016
Janet Guidry and hay baler

What’s a two-bucket gal? A two-bucket gal is a woman who can do two or more things at once: helping on the farm, no matter what the job; wash the family’s greasy clothes; have lunches ready; run the tractor, grain cart or whatever needs running; manage the house; and be the glue of the family.

Somewhere in the vicinity of Dickinson, Texas, you’ll find Humble Camp Peach Farm, and somewhere on that farm, you will find Janet Guidry perched in a tractor, surrounded by peach trees or taking care of the donkeys, goats, chickens and other assorted animals that make up their menagerie.

Janet is a pharmacist by trade, and never set foot on a farm before she married her husband, Jim. When they decided to leave the town life behind and start their own farm, Jim, who had grown up in the ag business, quickly adapted back to farm life, but for Janet, life on the farm meant starting from scratch. “She turned into a heck of a country girl,” Jim laughs.

The Guidrys, who have been married for 26 years, grow peaches and blackberries and run a small hay operation as well. According to Jim, Janet threw herself into the farm, tirelessly trying to learn everything about the farm, how everything worked and how to do everything by herself, which has definitely paid off. “She does basically everything that I do,” Jim says. “I taught her to run all of the equipment – the hay baler, the rake, the cutter – she runs all of the basic farm operations. She’s completely equal as far as doing everything that I do.”

Along with Jim, Janet maintains the trees and irrigation systems and during harvest makes sure the peaches get to the local farmers market and attends to the farm stand in front of their property where they also sell their crops. “She’s actually a far better money handler than I am, so I let her handle all the money and I make sure the produce gets on the table,” Jim laughs.

Janet’s latest achievement, learning how to bale hay for the couple’s small hay operation, is the biggest and best accomplishment so far. “She kind of got tired of watching me go out and have a good time on the hay, so she wanted me to teach her how to run the baler, and she learned,” Jim says. He runs both a round and square baler and says she has mastered handling both.

“This is just another time that we get to spend together when we’re out in the field, instead of me going out in the field and her staying home,” Jim says. “She’s good, and she loves doing it.”

Jim says that Janet’s involvement in haying makes her unique among the farm women he knows. “Of all the farmers we’ve talked to and all the folks that I know of that do hay around here, I’m the only one that has a wife that actually runs the equipment.”

Jim says it’s been interesting watching Janet learn how to run the baler. “My wife’s a little small person – she’s about 5-foot-2 – and I have a pretty good-sized tractor for our type of operation. It’s an 85-horsepower John Deere, and she runs this thing like I do, like anyone, so size is not an issue for her. She also learns very quickly how to operate equipment; she has a very soft touch.”

Jim finds that “soft touch” impressive, especially in someone with no previous experience with farm equipment. “She knows when something is going wrong; she knows when she needs to stop and get help because she feels something different or something doesn’t really look right or smell right. She knows how to read the land and the equipment to make sure that it’s a smooth day in the field.”

Jim says Janet is very conscientious about learning the equipment and learning how to read the conditions. “I think that’s very unique about her,” he says. “She’s not a gearhead by nature, but she does very well at understanding the way the equipment works, and she also helps me troubleshoot any problems that we have. You whip the manual out and she interprets it better than I do.”

Jim says there are two major struggles Janet has fought and won. One was learning to master the square baler. “The square baler was a bit of a challenge for her because she learned the round baler first. She got a little frustrated a few times, but she’d climb back up, I’d explain what went wrong, and she’d keep going,” Jim says.

The second was a deathly fear of snakes. “We live out here on the coast, and we have our fair share of snakes. We actually have two sets of rat snakes that live in our barn, and she’s actually learned to control her fear pretty well,” Jim says. Janet has overcome her fears and even learned to differentiate between poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes, which has come in handy. “Once, she grabbed my pistol and killed two poisonous snakes in our yard,” Jim says. “She’s done really well; it was a real struggle for her. She was one of those people who would only need to see a picture of a snake and she would shiver. Probably her biggest challenge was learning how to control that fear.”

Jim loves having Janet at his side as an equal partner in the farm work. “Janet is completely fearless and revels in a good day of work in the field. She feels like every moment that she gets to spend out on the farm in the fields has added to her life, as opposed to a regular job where it sucks the life out of you. She loves the farm work,” Jim says. “I haven’t found a thing that she won’t do at this point. She’s all-in on the farm, for sure.”  end mark

Carrie Veselka
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PHOTO 1: Janet Guidry’s favorite thing to do around the farm is run the baler. Photo by Jim Guidry.