Women in Agriculture

By: Courtney Lassiter
By: Courtney Lassiter

The numbers are showing women aren't afraid to get "down and dirty" on the farm!
The number of women enrolled in Ag at Western Kentucky University has risen 80% in the last 10 years.
Of almost 2,000 students at UK's College of Agriculture, 58% are women.
"The biggest part of our income is the dairy. Sometimes my husband doesn't like to admit that, but when we put pencil to paper, he realizes (laughs)."
Gail Ballance not only follows traditional American motherly roles like --cooking.
"We made chicken and broccoli casserole, yeast roles and fruit salad."
And, care-taking...she's also a farmer!
"Dairy is more hands on, being with animals and they (men) don't have the patience is what it is."
She does it all.
"I'm mixing up the calf milk for the babies."
And like any nurturing mother, gives her calves the "T.L.C" they need.
"I think it's a mother's instinct really something we're born with."
But, her job is harder than it looks.
Baby calves are on the bottle between 6 and 8 weeks and they can be stubborn.
"This is a newer one sometimes you have to work with them a lot to drink. They seem like they can do a little better eating when I can get them to their feet."
And twins can only be twice as troubling.
"This little fella had a sister born after him but she didn't make it.
This is where a guy doesn't have the patience i just make 'em drink 'till they can't drink no more."
The only thing that could slow Gail down is a bad back.
She had surgery on a Herniated Disk which makes it difficult for her to deliver a calf on her own, but that's the only part of her job where she needs any help.
"The cow puts so much pressure, in that instance Bill needed to push calf back into the mother and here she is pushing against you with all her force."
More than 20 years of field work has given her enough experience that she can say, she's only lost one calf in her career.
In fact, even the male farmer's admire her gentle ways. Mike Bullock is a long time family friend of the Ballance's.
"The men around here, they look to her a lot of times for information."
As a member of the Kentucky Dairy Development Council, Gail represents just a few women actively involved in agriculture in South Central Kentucky.
"When I go to farm meetings now I'm like one of 2 ladies that go."
"A lot of farm men know the family and are tickled to have her as an asset to community."
Bullock and others know Gail is living out a life long passion of caring for her family... and her farm.
"I'm just doing it because i love it."
"It's raised four kids and put them through school."


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